Victims of trucking accidents typically have tremendous losses, often in the range of six figures or more. Additionally, victims may need to change jobs or stop working altogether. Many truck accident victims need to bring a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for these losses, where the basis of such a lawsuit may be the negligence or recklessness of the truck driver.
In some cases, the negligent truck driver has violated a federal regulation, and it is the violation—such as an overloaded truck or failing to take a necessary rest break—that causes the accident. In some states, it may be appropriate to sue not only on the basis of negligence but also negligence per se. Under the latter theory, negligence will be inferred when the truck driver violated a safety statute, the victim is a member of the class the safety statute was designed to protect, and the violation is the cause of the accident. This inference can make it easier for a plaintiff to prove his or her case.
In addition to suing the truck driver for negligence and negligence per se, an accident victim can sue the trucking company under several different theories. A truck driver’s employer can be held indirectly responsible under the theories of vicarious liability or respondent superior. These theories allow a truck driver’s employer to be held accountable, even when the employer did nothing wrong, if an employee caused the injury in the course and scope of employment.
When a trucking company knows it is hiring a driver with a record of drunk or negligent driving or maintains the employment of such a driver, it may be held directly responsible under theories of negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or negligent entrustment. Trucking companies owe the public a duty to properly train and supervise the truck drivers they put on the road. This includes making sure that their drivers are not falsifying their log books and are getting enough rest. When they do not meet their duties to others on the road, trucking companies can be held directly liable