Driver Negligence Theory
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Theories of Liability in a Truck Accident Case

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Every time you head out on a highway or rural road, you’re bound to encounter at least one of the three million semi-trucks on the roadways. And when an accident occurs involving one of these trucks, severe damages, injuries, and death are possible.

In a majority of cases, the truck is at fault. If you or your loved ones have been involved in a truck accident, it’s essential to be aware of the legal theories of liability in such cases in order to seek compensation for medical bills and other expenses.

A truck accident attorney with Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., can help you determine which liability theory fits your situation. These liability theories include driver negligence, vicarious liability, and negligent hiring and training.

Driver Negligence Theory

While all drivers must follow specific rules of the road, truck drivers need to adhere to more specific regulations created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations require a truck driver to exercise a legal duty of care to passenger vehicles on the roadways. If a driver breaches this duty of care, your lawyer can argue the theory of driver negligence.

Driver negligence is the most common form of liability proven in these types of accidents. Speeding, distracted driving, including texting behind the wheel, and disobeying or disregarding traffic signals and signs are all common forms of driver negligence.

Another form of negligence found when fatigued truck drivers are behind the wheel. While FMCSA regulations are intended to reduce fatigued driving by limiting cumulative driving hours, company policies often force tired drivers behind the wheel.

The deadliest accidents involve big trucks. Even if there are no fatalities, these accidents cause a high number of injuries and extensive property damage. To ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible, work with an experienced personal injury attorney at our law firm.

Vicarious Liability Theory

Vicarious or secondary liability is another theory often proven in truck accident cases.

This type of liability falls most often on the truck driver’s employer, the trucking company.

For vicarious liability to apply, the employer is determined to be liable for the truck driver’s conduct while under their employ. For example, if the truck that hit you was speeding while on the clock, the employer can be held liable. However, you can expect the company’s insurance company to get involved in disproving any vicarious liability.

There are a set of factors that need to be established in this liability theory, including whether the employer had the ability to mitigate any of the events leading up to the accident. If the driver is classified as an independent contractor, vicarious liability may still be established based on an additional set of factors that experienced truck accident lawyers can identify.

Truck Accident Case

Negligent Hiring and Training Theory

Truck drivers must obtain a special CDL (commercial driver’s license) and pass and maintain specific certifications. Additionally, the hiring company must conduct a background check to ensure the potential employee has taken all the steps required to become a commercial truck driver.

The FMCSA also provides a Pre-Employment Screening Program, which shows crash and inspection history. If the company fails to conduct this full background check, they may set themselves up for a lawsuit if that driver is hired and causes an accident.

Another area where the trucking company may be held liable is in negligent training of their driver. A few areas of this training include reacting in inclement weather, loading cargo safely, and inspecting and maintaining their truck. When a company fails to provide full training, the company may be held liable for any accident involving the untrained driver.

Contact a Michigan Truck Accident Attorney Today

Truck accidents can be devastating, and when one happens, you need to know your rights for compensation and who could be held liable. Scheduling a free consultation with one of our experienced truck accident attorneys here at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is the first step in determining which liability theory applies to your accident.

We value our attorney-client relationships and are committed to helping you receive the best settlement possible. Call us today at 866-MICH-LAW to discuss the merits of your case and how to move forward.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Emily is a writer and legal professional with experience as a law firm paralegal and non-profit legal administrator. Prior to her legal career, Emily earned her Bachelor's Degree in International Affairs and worked with a government consulting group out of Washington, D.C. Today she splits her time between the Florida coast and the North Carolina mountains.



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