Accident with a work truck? Attorney Michael Grossman can help.
When a work vehicle is involved in an accident, it's possible the employee can be held at least partially responsible for the accident. Being able to do so depends, however, on whether the driver was performing the duties of their job at the time, and whether they were treated as an employee by their employer. The rest of this article will explain these concepts in more detail.
Questions Answered on This Page:
- Who do you sue in an accident: the individual driver or the company they work for?
- What are some common defenses employers make after a crash?
- What constitutes a work vehicle?
What Constitutes a Work Truck?
By "work vehicle" we're referring to any kind of small-to-medium sized commercial vehicle used to transport equipment or goods, not a long haul vehicle like an 18-wheeler. Examples of these kinds of vehicle include: pickups used for gardening and landscaping, oilfield vehicles, construction vehicles, etc.
Why does it matter if it's a work vehicle? Well, a commercial vehicle accident claim involving doesn't function the same an one involving passenger cars. When someone is working for a company and causes a collision, there's a decent chance that their employer is responsible for their actions by extension.
Employers are Generally Liable For the Negligent Acts of Their Employees
The legal doctrine of "respondeat superior" originated with English common law and was introduced to the United States during the foundation of the United States. Respondeat superior literally translates into "let the master answer," and it's the primary doctrine that allows injury victims to hold employers responsible for the actions of their employees. This is a huge advantage for injury victims, as most companies have extensive assets and/or insurance policies, where the average individual employee generally doesn't.
Assume, for example, that someone's car was totaled and they suffered moderate injuries after a pizza delivery driver negligently ran into the back of their car at a stoplight while delivering a pizza. Unless one of the exceptions discussed below applies, the injury victim will likely be able to hold the driver's employer - the pizza company - liable for their injuries.
What employers will say
Too many times we've heard employers argue that they can't be held responsible for their employee's actions because they were technically a contract worker and not an employee of the company. This is true as far as it goes. However, the law has detailed standards for how employees have to treat employees and contractors respectively for them to be considered as such. If a contract worker is treated like an employee, in that they're held to a specific schedule, enjoys most of the same benefits as actual employees, and so on, then the employer can still be held responsible for an accident involving this worker. That's because the law realizes that if the employer is reaping all the benefits of having an employee, they also need to be held responsible when that employee is negligent or is involved in an accident.
Employers might also try to create as much distance between their company and that errant employee. We've heard statements like, "They were on their lunch break.", "We've been telling them to correct that behavior", etc. They're trying to create a situation where the attention is drawn away from the company and the finger is pointed only at the other person. It takes an attorney with experience in situations like this to make sure the accountable party is ultimately held responsible.
Why you should call Grossman Law Offices
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident with a company vehicle, Grossman Law Offices may be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys and staff have represented injury victims for over 25 years. Give us a call at (855) 326-0000 for more information regarding accidents with company vehicles and to have a free and confidential consultation based on the facts of your case.
You may also want to read:
- Types of commercial vehicles
- Common injuries in truck accidents
- Accidents involving mail delivery trucks