Is Your Small Business Responsible In A Trucking Accident?

Disclaimer: The contents of this article should not be taken as legal advice and should only be used as a resource to provide information about what you can do whenever your business is involved in a trucking accident. You should always seek for the services of a lawyer specializing in tracking accident cases to give you a more in-depth view of this matter.

You have hectares of lands with fruit-bearing trees.  Because of this, you’ve started your business and eventually, your business expanded. After a few years, you’re now supplying fruits to your local supermarkets. small business trucking accidentYou started supplying fruits for two local supermarkets and then, three, four, and now, you’re happy that in your area, you’ve been the only supplier of fruits there. Your business is gradually growing and to continually keep up with the demands, you decided to purchase a truck for your business. You think that this will help your business in a lot of ways and a good investment, too. However, your truck was involved in an accident. Your truck severely damaged another vehicle, but no one was hurt. As a business owner, what happened scared and stressed you out. This is the first time that something like this happened and you don’t know what to do.

Unlike accidents concerning your private vehicle, there are different considerations to keep in mind once your business was involved in a trucking accident. Since you still don’t know the next step to take, you may use this article to give you the information you need:

  1. Do you even know who’s liable for the trucking accident?

Whenever a trucking accident involves a business, expect that there will be an ongoing debate as to who will be responsible for the damages.

  • Yes, you might argue that your driver was the one behind the steering wheel when the accident happened, but because it took place when he was working for you, you’re not off the hook from paying the damages your driver occurred.
  1. When is a truck driver personally liable for the trucking accident?

Don’t conclude that you’re solely responsible for the trucking accident. Sure, you might want to pay the damages immediately to save yourself (and your business) from the stress but don’t do that – you might be wasting good money. You should take the time to look into the details of the trucking accident to determine who should pay for the damages. The truck driver is held liable for the accident if:

  • The driver is an independent contractor: Working with an independent contractor for your business means that your driver will have their trucks, pay for their gas, repairs, and license. They might deliver your supplies to different locations, but they can choose when to work with you. There are a lot of pros and cons in this kind of set-up, and this can benefit you in times of trucking accidents. If your driver is an independent contractor working for you, they can be held liable for the trucking accident.
  • The driver takes deliberate actions: There will be possibilities where your driver’s emotions can significantly influence his actions. Because your driver was clouded with anger for example, he might not be able to think straight and make quick decisions while he was on the road. For example, if your driver was enraged because of a personal problem and deliberately crashed into another car, your driver might be liable for the accident. However, if you had an idea that your driver will have this kind of reaction (because you probably caused the rage), you’ll not be off the hook from paying the damages.
  • The driver was acting outside the scope of employment: Once it was proven that your driver was acting outside the scope of employment – like taking the truck for a “joyride” without your consent at all – then, you’ll be safe from paying anything. But before you can have this relief, keep in mind that proving your driver was acting outside the scope of employment is a long and tedious process.
  1. When is the trucking company (a.ka. you, as the business owner) liable for the accident?

Starting a business entails responsibility for you, and trucking accidents are one of the situations where you’re expected to show full responsibility. You’re considered directly liable for the accident if:

  • There was negligent truck maintenance: Regardless of where your business is operating, certain state laws require you as business-owners, to have your trucks routinely checked and maintained. If you fail to do this and your negligence have caused the trucking accident, this is bad news for you. Once proven, you’ll be liable for all the damages.
  • There were mandatory hour violations: Driving is a tiresome job which requires full concentration of the driver. This is the reason why drivers should have ample time to rest and take breaks between working schedules. As an employer, if you fail to give this necessity to your drivers, you’ll be held responsible for the trucking accident.
  • There was negligent hiring from your part: Your hiring process was full of flaws, and because of this, you hired a driver who’s not capable of doing the job right. You didn’t know your internal processes would cause harm in the long run, but it did. And you have to take full responsibility for your errors.

Starting a business will never be easy as you will experience challenges along the way. And no matter how you try to be careful with your actions, accidents will happen. But you don’t have to fret as there are options for you to take when you’re faced with this situation. All you have to do is to be keen on the information and the details presented to you. Be careful about what actions you take and be sure to work with an experienced lawyer if you’re truck was in a vehicle accident. Once you consider all of these, you’ll know how to handle the situation better.

About Benjamin Washington

Benjamin Washington is a promising young law writer currently writing for Stewart Guss. He hopes to apply his years of study into helping explain legal issues to the public. Benjamin loves cooking and often cooks for his family during weekends.