The busy roads of California are made up of interstate systems like I-5, I-10, I-40, and more. This means that thousands of commercial vehicles and large trucks use these roads to maneuver goods from A to B. Unfortunately, truck accidents on California roads are not uncommon, and the size and weight of these vehicles can often have fatal consequences.
Determining liability in a commercial trucking accident isn’t always straightforward. In many cases, liability immediately defaults to the employer if the driver was working for the employer at the time of the crash. There are varying degrees of responsibility depending on what caused the accident, but the employer is almost always liable in some capacity. Of course, there are limitations, and the unique circumstances and laws will determine exactly who is liable on a case by case basis.
The Theory of “Respondeat Superior”
Respondeat Superior can be translated from the Latin as “let the master answer.” This legal doctrine is based upon the rule that a company should be legally responsible for the actions of their employees. However, different states uphold this to varying degrees and will take all the evidence into account before deciding how much responsibility an employer should bear. If, for example, the employee was conducting an activity that would be reasonably expected of them within the scope of their job, this could influence whether liability falls with the employer or employee. If the employee was acting outside the scope of their role or taking part in illegal activity that the employer could not have predicted, the business is unlikely to be held accountable. The attorney for the business can also argue that the employee was an independent contractor rather than an employee of the company for liability purposes.
Federal Regulations That Affect Trucking Companies
The commercial trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If a trucking company whose employee is involved in a trucking accident is found to have failed to follow the FMCSA’s code of regulations, they could be found to have acted negligently, and the company would, therefore, be liable. If the vehicle is not maintained in accordance to the FSMA’s strict rules, the drivers are found not to have passed the proper driver requirements, or there are any other safety or regulation breaches that could have caused the accident, this increases the likelihood that the company will be found liable over the individual driver.
If you have been injured in a trucking accident, it is crucial to understand who is liable. Contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Karlin & Karlin for a free consultation, and we can make sure that your rights are protected and you get the compensation you deserve.