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How might vicarious liability apply to truck accidents?

Any accident that involves someone working for another party at the time it occurred raises the possibility that the accident was job-related. This possibility brings into consideration the legal concept of vicarious liability.

For example, let's consider truck accidents. If a truck driver causes an accident resulting in injuries, vicarious liability makes it possible for his or her employer to also be held potentially accountable.

One advantage of vicarious liability is that it allows for multiple defendants to be named in a lawsuit. Often the truck driver will not possess considerable resources from which to pay a judgment, and if the plaintiff’s injuries are severe and require expensive medical treatment, that could pose a problem. But if the truck driver’s employer, and possibly others, can be held at least partially responsible for the accident, then the prospect for financial recovery improves.

If you have been involved in a vehicle accident in California that involves a commercial truck, some factors that may trigger vicarious liability include:

  • Did an employment relationship exist between the truck driver and the company that owns the truck?
  • At the time of the accident, was the truck driver “on the clock” -- that is, performing work for his or her employer?
  • Did the accident happen because of a maintenance failure? For example, did the truck’s brakes fail possibly because of an act or omission by the trucking company in checking and maintaining the vehicle?
  • Does the trucking company have insurance on the vehicle involved in the accident?
  • Might anyone else have some responsibility for creating conditions that led to the accident?

Vicarious liability may not always apply to truck accidents. If the driver’s use of the truck was unauthorized at the time of the accident, or if the driver was an independent contractor and not an employee, these may make vicarious liability claims inappropriate.

Each truck accident has its own facts and circumstances that must be investigated, so what you read here should be taken only as a general source of information when it comes to whether vicarious liability exists.

If you want more information on the topic of trucking accidents and what legal options exist for pursuing a legal claim, it may be wise to speak with an attorney familiar with personal injury law.


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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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