How Trucking Accidents Can Impact Small Businesses and Independent Contractors

There are millions of commercial vehicles on America’s streets and highways. These trucks play a vital role in sustaining and preserving our access to important resources. While trucking plays an important role in the fabric of American society, what happens when a truck accident occurs? Specifically, what legal rights do other motorists have when they are hurt in a truck crash?

The answer to this question depends upon many factors, including why the crash occurred and who is legally responsible. Truck accident cases tend to be complicated and it may take some time to sort out all the events surrounding the collision itself. For injured victims looking for answers, it is always best to turn to a skilled national truck accident attorney to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Here, we will provide some information on who might be responsible if you were injured in a truck accident.

United States Truck Accidents  How Trucking Accidents Can Impact Small Businesses and Independent Contractors

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 500,00 truck accidents took place in the United States in 2021. As a result of these crashes, about 155,000 people sustained injuries nearly 5,800 were killed. It is estimated that about 70% of these victims were motorists in the other vehicle involved in the crash.

Commercial truck accidents can cause devastating effects for victims and their loved ones. In cases where an innocent motorist is injured, medical bills for post-crash treatment can quickly skyrocket. Victims may be unable to work and support their families, creating financial stress. To make matters worse, emotional and psychological trauma from the accident can lead to worsening mental health conditions.

It goes without saying that seeking legal advice following a truck accident is of the utmost importance. Negligence is a leading cause of many truck crashes in the United States. Negligent truck driving may be caused by any of the following:

Holding the appropriate party accountable for their actions is vital to obtaining a full recovery following a commercial truck accident. These cases can be complex and may involve multiple defendants, all of whom share legal responsible for the crash.

Holding Small Businesses Accountable

Trucking companies may be owned and operated as a small business. Typically, one person owns a small to medium size fleet of trucks. The owner then hires a set number of drivers to work for them as employees. These drivers are paid to drive certain defined routes for the owner and their small business.

When an employee of a small trucking company causes a crash, the company itself can be held liable for the injuries that were caused. Under the legal theory known as respondeat superior, an employer is generally liable for the negligent actions of their employee. This is true even if the employer did not directly participate in the conduct that caused the harm. For instance, if a speeding truck driver causes a rear-end collision on the highway leading to injuries, the injured victims are normally able to look to the business owner for compensation.

Typically, business owners purchase commercial liability insurance to cover the costs of claims made against their employees. These policies are available to injured victims where a truck driver who is an employee causes an injury crash.

The Liability of Independent Contractors

Not all truckers are considered to be employees of a company. Instead, they may be known as independent contractors. An independent contractor is a truck driver who may work at the direction of multiple employers. Typically, independent contractors are differentiated from employees because they have more direction and control over the routes that they drive. They may also own their own truck and even have a business registered in their own names.

When an independent contractor causes an accident, victims normally look to the individual driver for compensation. Again, even as independent contractors, truck drivers are required to carry liability insurance in order to offset injuries caused to other motorists.

In some cases, it is not always clear whether the driver is an independent contractor or an employee. For obvious reasons, trucking companies would prefer to classify the driver as an independent contractor. There are a few things that must be analyzed when the role of the driver is at issue, such as:

  • Whether the driver was free to determine which routes they drove
  • If the driver was allowed to make independent decisions about their work
  • Whether the driver was paid wages using a W2 form or if they received 1099 tax forms
  • Whether the employer exercised a certain amount of control over all aspects of driving
  • If the driver was using their own truck or a truck provided by the company

These and other questions must be fully answered in order to determine if the trucking company may still be held responsible despite claims that the driver was an independent contractor.

National Truck Accident Attorneys

If you have been involved in a truck accident, you need tough and aggressive representation. Truck drivers and trucking companies are almost always looking to lessen or avoid their liability for a crash. This includes attempting to blur the lines between employees and contractors. You shouldn’t simply accept the trucking company’s answer that they are not responsible for the accident. Instead, you should seek out an attorney who can obtain the answers on your behalf so that you know you are protected.

Here at Burg Simpson, we pride ourselves on providing the best legal representation for our clients. We know that this is a difficult time in your life and we are here to help you get the compensation that you need and deserve.

Our consultations are always free for all potential and prospective clients. Do not speak with the insurance company until you have an attorney by your side. There is no obligation unless we obtain a recovery on your behalf. To schedule your appointment with a national truck accident attorney, please reach out to us using our online intake form or give us a call at (866) 695-2112.

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