Most people assume only the truck driver is responsible for the injuries he or she causes. But the truth is the trucking company can be held accountable for damages you suffered. Generally, the employer is liable for the truck driver acting in the course and scope of his or her employment. However, holding the trucking company liable is not always that simple because they try to hide behind “independent contractor” agreements.
If you were involved in a commercial truck injury accident, determining who is responsible can be a complicated. You need an experienced truck accident attorney on your side to uncover the true relationship between the truck driver and the truck company.
In seeking compensation for your damages, payment of medical bills, and wage loss in a truck accident, your case is usually not as simple as filing a claim with the truck driver's insurance. Usually, the circumstances of the accident are complicated, and the trucking company has dispatched a litigation team before the accident scene is cleared. If the accident involved multiple parties, the truck accident fault can be hotly contested putting blame on other vehicle drivers.
Truck drivers have special rules that apply to them because of the size and commercial nature of the activity. State and Federal law regulates truck drivers, in hopes of improving public safety. However, commercial vehicle driver’s commonly break the federal motor carrier safety rules such as:
The trucking company may be liable for failing to adequately maintain the truck or improperly training their drivers. Sometimes, a parts manufacturer can be liable for a defective product installed in the truck or failing to recall a defect truck part.
In Michigan, you have to show you are less than 51% at fault for the accident to be entitled to pain and suffering compensation. MCLA 600.2959 states:
“In an action based on tort or another legal theory seeking damages for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death, the court shall reduce the damages by the percentage of comparative fault of the person upon whose injury or death the damages are based as provided in section 6306 or 6306a, as applicable. If that person's percentage of fault is greater than the aggregate fault of the other person or persons, whether or not parties to the action, the court shall reduce economic damages by the percentage of comparative fault of the person upon whose injury or death the damages are based as provided in section 6306 or 6306a, as applicable, and noneconomic damages shall not be awarded.”
Notice, you can still be entitled to economic damage even if you are more than 50% at fault. The experienced truck accident lawyer will figure out who is negligent in a truck accident, especially since the best and most successful trucking accident lawyers are familiar with trucking accident safety regulations, case law, and the nuanced law surrounding the unique facts of your case.
If you were injured in the commercial truck accident, you are most likely trying to focus on the life that has been turned upside down, your health and medical treatment, which makes it very hard for you to investigate and formulate a winning truck accident strategy. Therefore, you must hire the Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, one of top award-winning truck accident attorneys in Michigan.
Commonly, the truck company will put up the "Independent Contractor" defense to shield itself from being liable for the negligence of the commercial truck driver. Historically, truck companies tried to shield themselves from being held accountable by leasing trucks and drivers, putting up a wall between the truck driver and the commercial trucking company. Often times, this is simply smoke and mirrors. The trucking company improperly classified the truck driver as independent contractor. U.S., Congress passed a law to prevent trucking companies from hiding behind this deceitful tactic.
Accordingly, the law now holds that any trucking company leasing a truck must have written lease, exclusive possession, control, and use of the trucking equipment for the duration of the lease. The trucking company must not control the truck driver or his activities such as where the truck driver works exclusively for one employer. The trucking company must also take complete responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the equipment. Needless to say, the "independent contractor" defense has been misused and abused by trucking company in truck driver negligence claims for decades.
Almost always, the trucking company defense attorneys still try use the independent contractor defense in court.
All of these reasons should make crystal clear why it's crucial to hire an experienced trucking accident lawyer on your side who can quickly dismantle the trucking company’s affirmative defenses.
The short answer is, follow the money. If the truck driver is working exclusively for the trucking company, the financial records will bear out the financial control. The means and methods used will point to the trucking company. Unless the trucking company itself caused or contributed to the accident by failing to maintain or repair the commercial truck, the trucking company will only be held liable for an accident if the truck driver was acting in the course and scope of the employment with the trucking company at the time of the accident. Most courts, including Michigan, will look to the state agency law to decide what the relationship is. The Courts will use some of the following factors:
Obviously, if the truck driver is acting outside of the scope of employment with the trucking company, when the accident occurs, the court may find only the truck driver is liable.
A well trained and experienced truck accident attorney should anticipate all of these issues and develop a strategy to fight them.
In the truck accident world, establishing liability is just a small part of the complex process involved in filing a personal injury truck accident lawsuit. Often commercial trucks cause or contribute to devastating injuries, and the truck accident is a complicated area of personal injury litigation, you are always best served by seeking legal advice from a professional trucking attorney.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck crash, contact The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, preeminent Michigan expert truck accident attorneys today for a free consultation.
Call us now for a free confidential consultation at 248-352-2110 or Toll Free at 866-447-3563.