Texas Department of Transportation reported 487 accidents involving semi trucks in 2022 on the state’s roadways. Some of these accidents were the fault of the truck driver, which brings up a common question.
In a truck accident, does the trucking company have any liability? The answer depends on a few factors.
The foundation of trucking company liability is the employment relationship with the driver. When the driver is an employee of the company, the company may be responsible for the driver’s negligence while on the job.
In cases where trucking companies classify their drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees, they may not be liable. However, liability can still occur in certain situations. For instance, if the company exerts significant control over the driver’s actions or fails to properly vet the contractor’s qualifications.
Ownership of the truck
Trucking companies are accountable for maintaining the safety and upkeep of their vehicles. If the company owns the truck, then it can be liable for mechanical failures, like faulty brakes, that lead to accidents.
Training of driver
Proper training and supervision of drivers are important for safe operations. Trucking companies must ensure that their drivers have the right training and oversee them properly. If inadequate training or supervision plays a role in an accident, the company may face liability.
Additionally, trucking companies have a duty to hire qualified and safe drivers. If a company negligently hires a driver with a history of unsafe practices or fails to address a known pattern of risky behavior, they may be responsible for the consequences.
Compliance with hours of service
Federal regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can spend on the road and mandate break periods. Trucking companies are responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with these regulations. Failure to do so can lead to liability if an accident occurs due to a fatigued driver.
Trucking companies must ensure that trucks do not run overloaded and there is secure fastening of cargo. Accidents resulting from overloading or improperly secured cargo can result in company liability.
The safe dispatching of drivers is another responsibility of trucking companies. If an accident occurs due to unreasonable schedules or dispatching decisions that lead to risky driving behavior, the company could be liable.
Trucking company liability is a complex matter, with specific details varying based on the unique circumstances of each case. Federal and state regulations also have a significant influence on trucking company liability.