Full-size trucks are about four times the length and size of a typical car. This makes it harder for a truck driver to assess if another vehicle is in their blind spot. Additionally, trucks operate with unique inertia, which makes it significantly longer for them to brake than it would for a smaller car.
These are just some of the factors that make trucks more susceptible to accidents than typical four-wheel vehicles. Of course, driver negligence, weather, and roadway conditions are also leading causes of commercial truck accidents.
No matter the cause, liability is always a primary concern when a hired truck driver is involved in a road collision. Holding the right party responsible for any property damage or personal injury is essential to properly recover from the incident and avoid further legal trouble.
Insurance policies vary wildly. But generally, if your employer invested in commercial auto insurance, the provider will pay all proven valid claims as long as you were using the truck properly, and no reckless driving was involved.
Typically, your employer is responsible for directly communicating with the insurance company. You might be called to answer questions or provide sufficient evidence that will impact the insurance company’s decision.
Determining who’s at fault
In most employee vs. employer cases, judges tend to rule that employers are responsible for their employees. The bigger issue is whether the employee was operating within “the scope of employment.” Actions that fall under the scope of employment are those explicitly authorized by the company or are closely related to an authorized act.
For example, a truck driver on his way to deliver or pick up goods during business hours collides with another vehicle. The employer will be directly liable because the driver was acting within the course of his duties. In this case, the company’s insurance will cover property damage and provide the necessary compensation to the driver. In legal terms, this responsibility falls under “respondeat superior,” or “vicarious liability.”
But once drivers are proven to use company vehicles outside of their professional duties, they are responsible for any injuries or property damage. In this case, auto insurance might refuse to cover the incident, leaving the driver to pay from his own pocket.
The same goes for truck drivers who cause accidents due to undisciplined behavior. This includes drunk driving or going off-route to run personal errands during business hours. Such actions do not fall under the scope of employment.
Minimizing accident risk
Being a professional driver is inherently risky. Serious accidents can have a tremendous impact on you and your family’s life. Head injuries, including skull fractures, comas, and concussions, will cause not only physical trauma but also long-term emotional and psychological stress. If you have been involved in a company vehicle accident, the first thing you should do is to consult a reliable truck driver rights lawyer to ensure you get the right compensation.
Additionally, educating truckers on safe driving practices and road risk awareness means fewer road accidents. Employers should invest in driver training programs to better protect both their employees and assets.