Suing a Trucking Company For Negligent Acts?
Who is liable for Florida trucking accidents? After a trucking accident in which a victim sustains serious injuries, a Personal Injury consultation is a must. A Personal Injury lawyer with years of trucking accident experience can determine the amount of damages recoverable. A lawyer lacking trucking accident experience may send the client out the door with insufficient compensation! While some lawyers claim they handle cases as large as Florida trucking accidents, they never see them to verdict.
This article includes the following points found in Florida trucking accidents:
- What is the principle of ‘Respondeat Superior’?How does the “scope of employment” determine compensation?
- How does the “scope of employment” determine compensation?
- What is intent in trucking accident cases?
- What points of Florida trucking accident law differ from other states?
- Why is employee liability and independent contractors’ liability different?
- When is emphasis on the trucking carrier?
How does “scope of employment” determine trucking accident compensation?
“[…]Actions of an employee which further the business of the employer and are not personal business, which becomes the test as to whether an employer is liable for damages due to such actions under the doctrine of Respondeat Superior.”
Next, let’s look at how this applies to Personal Injury practice. In order to successfully obtain compensation for the pain and suffering of a client, the lawyer must determine what constitutes an act. What lead up to and caused the accident, specifically? These acts must fall within the “scope of employment”.
This happens during Discovery, and can be a lengthy process if the lawyer is unfamiliar with trucking accidents. Younger lawyers sometimes find themselves with this problem.
Be mindful of lawyers who advertise their ability to try trucking accident cases, but have no successful results on their website! Always check a lawyer’s website for successful results before agreeing to their representation.
What is the legal principle of ‘Respondeat Superior’?
“[…]A legal doctrine, most commonly used in tort, that holds an employer or principal legally responsible for the wrongful acts of an employee or agent, if such acts occur within the scope of the employment or agency.”
That’s to say, ‘Respondeat Superior’ is being able to determine under the law, whether the carrier that employs the trucking operator is responsible for the trucking accident. Was there a level of ‘intent’? A Personal Injury lawyer must determine whether this was the case before the claim proceeds to the next step: pursuing compensation.
What is “intent” in Florida trucking accidents?
There is an exception to the general practice that a carrier upholds liability. This occurs in situations where accidents are the fault of an employee under FMCSA. Under normal circumstances, a trucking company will not be liable for “intentional tort”. Intentional tort can mean: kidnapping, assault, and other violent acts an employee may commit.
The principle of ‘Respondeat Superior’ is not met when the acts of an employee are not in relation to the trucking company.
Why is employee liability and independent contractor liability different?
The first thing a lawyer must determine is whether a truck driver is an employee of a company. This determination falls under federal regulations such as FMCSA. If the truck driver is an independent contractor, laws are different. The Department of Transportation does govern independent contractors, however the regulations are not the same. The difference lies in who determines how the work is carried out.
It’s important to note that a Florida trucking company is not usually the one liable for acts of an independent contractor. Independent contractors have more autonomy than a driver working for a corporation.
Hours of Service violations happen when an employer deliberately alters logbooks or suggests a truck driver skip mandatory breaks. These actions are illegal. Thus, there is potential for further damages.
What parts of Florida trucking accident law differ in other states?
While the Department of Transportation (DOT) is an office with federal regulation, there are state laws governing trucking companies and their drivers in every state. This is because a truck drivers’ main duty is transporting goods across state lines. So, what differs from state to state in regard to truck accident law?
- Employee intent (did the employee act in a reasonable manner? Did they violate federal law?)
- Hours of Service and properly maintained logbooks
- Time and place of negligent conduct
- Job the employee was hired to perform
- Incidents which the employer can reasonably expect of the employee
- How much freedom is enacted upon the employee when performing his or her assigned job
What is a good example of a Florida trucking accident scenario?
A truck driver may rear end someone while out on an assigned task, such as a delivery or pickup. In this example, the trucking company is liable for the pain and suffering of the other driver because the employee was acting within the scope of employment.
This is just one example, and there are many things that factor into a case in which liability is the cause of the accident. During consultation and beyond, a Board Certified Personal Injury lawyer will look at the details of the case and determine who needs to be pursued, specifically, in order to recover damages on behalf of the client.
When is emphasis on the trucking company?
The question is “does a company have the right to determine how employees perform work?” For example, the company may have control over the end result, but not the work to achieve the end result. This delineation establishes an independent contractor relationship between the company and the contractor hauling cargo.
However, a driver may work for a carrier that upholds FMCSA standards. Therefore, Hours of Service require corresponding logbooks. Work can be: specific steps to securing cargo, maintaining logbooks, training other employees. These actions would make a truck driver an employee.
Experience, trust, Credibility
It’s important that those who sustain any type of injury in an accident seek a lawyer with Board Certification. Lawyers with Board Certification are the only ones who can advise clients on the specifics of a Florida trucking accident case.