Obtaining Compensation in Eighteen-Wheeler Wrecks

In many large truck collisions, proving liability is not much of a problem. Common carriers, like truck drivers, taxi drivers, and Uber drivers, have a high duty of care. So, what might pass for an accident with a non-commercial driver is negligence where commercial operators are concerned.

Obtaining compensation, however, is a different matter. In many catastrophic injury cases, such as a spinal injury, the medical bills alone might be over a half-million dollars. Ongoing care could be even more. SInce Texas has very low auto insurance minimums, even for commercial carriers, many drivers do not have enough coverage to pay fair compensation.

Fortunately, a Weatherford personal injury attorney can leverage third-party liability theories to obtain this compensation, no matter how much insurance the tortfeasor (negligent driver) had. This compensation usually is not limited to economic damages, such as medical bills. It usually includes money for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, as well.

Respondeat Superior

This Latin phrase means “let the master answer.” Employers are legally responsible for the negligent acts of their employees if:

  • Employee: Owner-operators and independent contractors are both “employees” in this context, even though they do not qualify as such for other purposes. Employer control over things like hours worked, cargo carried, or route travelled is sufficient.

  • Scope of Employment: Similarly, any act that benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. That could include driving an empty truck around town. In those cases, the employer benefits from the free advertising.

  • Foreseeability: The wreck must be a foreseeable result of the employer-employee relationship. If the employee steals a vehicle from the garage, the wreck is probably not foreseeable.

Other employer liability theories include negligent hiring and negligent entrustment. These doctrines often apply in cases where respondeat superior does not apply, such as nursing home assaults and other intentional torts.

Negligent Entrustment

This theory applies if owners allow incompetent drivers to operate their vehicles. So, even if the wreck did not occur within the scope of employment, liability may still attach. Evidence of incompetency includes:

  • No drivers’ license,

  • Safety-suspended drivers’ license,

  • Poor driving record, and

  • Driving in violation of license restrictions (e.g. not wearing required glasses).

Commercial negligent entrustment cases, like U-Haul trucks and Enterprise rental cars, work a bit differently, because of the Graves Amendment.

The tortfeasor may not be the only party that’s responsible for damages. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.