The Impact of Truck Accidents on Small Businesses

The trucking industry is extremely vital to the viability of the American economy. Each day, trucks travel distances both near and far to transport crucial supplies and items that sustain our way of living. Truckers handle everything from food supplies, medical equipment, industrial and electronic materials, gasoline, livestock, and more. Without a robust and active trucking industry, our country would look extremely different than it does on a day-to-day basis.

When considering the industry as a whole, the reality of truck accidents must also be taken into account. According to the National Security Council, about 5,788 people were killed in truck crashes that took place across the country in 2021. In addition, another 150,000 individuals suffered injuries. More than 60^ of these victims were in passenger vehicles or other cars at the time of the crash. Many truck accident injuries are serious in nature, leading to extensive legal claims when trucker negligence is to blame.

While we commonly think about the impact that truck accidents have on the individuals who are directly involved, we tend to forget that other entities that are indirectly involved are also affected. This includes trucking businesses and companies. In this article, we will take a look at the law and how a truck crash can impact companies that run trucking operations on a daily basis.

If you or a family member have been affected, you should reach out to a skilled national truck accident attorney as soon as possible.

Organization of the Trucking Industry  The Impact of Truck Accidents on Small Businesses

According to statistics, about 3.5 million Americans are employed in the trucking industry. These drivers are collectively responsible for the operation of more than 4 million trucks. Commercial trucks haul more than 10.5 billion tons of freight each year. As a whole, the industry contributes more than $700 billion in annual revenue to the American Gross Domestic Product each year.

Of these truck drivers, many are employed by trucking companies or carriers. Statistics indicate that more than 1.2 million trucking companies for hire operated in the United States as of 2023. The number of long-distance freight companies was more than 570,000, a number which has been increasing at nearly a 5% annual rate since 2018.

With these statistics, we can conclude that the industry is a large part of the American economy and that many truckers, either short-haul or long-haul, are employed by businesses that hire truck drivers.

Truck Accident Legal Responsibility

When a truck crash happens, the first thing that victims often want to know is who should be held legally liable for their injuries. Under the American legal system, this is often a multi-tiered question. The first thing to be determined is how the accident took place. Ordinarily, truck crashes like other types of accidents are caused by the negligence of one or more parties involved. Some ways that negligence occurs in a truck accident include:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Distraction
  • Drowsiness
  • Impairment
  • Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo
  • Brake or mechanical malfunctions
  • Weather conditions

When one of these events occurs and blame can be traced back to the truck driver, the driver can be held legally at fault for the injuries that occurred. However, what if the driver was employed by a trucking company at the time of the collision?

Vicarious Liability for Truck Companies

If the driver was operating a truck on behalf of a business or truck company, the company generally may be held responsible under a theory of vicarious liability, or respondeat superior. Under this theory, the trucking company becomes liable for the negligence of their employees that occurred while the employee was carrying out their employment duties. Liability applies even if the trucking company technically did not do anything wrong, the employer-employee relationship is enough.

Vicarious liability does apply when the driver is an employee. However, many trucking businesses will hire drivers are 1099 employees or independent contractors. In that case, the company may be able to escape liability in the event of a crash. In some cases, the issue of whether the driver was an employee or a contractor is up for debate. Some things that a court will look at to determine the issue are:

  • Did the driver regularly drive for just one company or many companies?
  • Was the driver free to accept or decline driving assignments?
  • Did the driver have taxes withheld from their paychecks?
  • Did the driver have the ability to make independent decisions about their employment?
  • Was there any communication between the driver and the company clarifying thier role?

All of these factors will be considered in deciding whether the trucking company may ultimately be held responsible if there is an issue as to the status of the driver involved.

Negligent Hiring and Training

In other cases, a legal theory of liability is not based solely on the employer/employee status. Instead, victims may assert that the company negligently hired the driver in question or failed to provide them with adequate job training so that they could safely perform their jobs.

In cases of negligent hiring, a truck accident lawyer will look at the record of the truck driver in question. Their driving and safety history as well as their criminal records may be examined. If there were indicators that the driver had safety or employment issues in the past, the trucking business may be held responsible if they could have foreseen the possibility of an accident occurring.

Similarly, trucking businesses have a duty to train their drivers on the risks and requirements of their jobs. If this training is not given or is somehow inadequate, a company may face legal liability for giving insufficient training.

National Truck Accident Attorneys

A truck accident is a devastating and catastrophic event for victims and loved ones. All parties, including truck drivers and trucking companies, may bear legal responsibility when a crash occurs. At Burg Simpson, our national truck crash lawyers are here during your time of need. We will perform a full investigation and determine the best way to proceed in your case.

We are standing by to speak with you now. To schedule your appointment with one of our attorneys, please reach out to us using our online intake form or give us a call at 866-696-1750.

 

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