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How can vicarious liability apply in a truck accident?

Commercial truck drivers are on the road at the behest to someone else, commonly for their employers. Whenever a truck gets into an accident with another vehicle, the question frequently arises as to how the employer of the truck driver may also be liable in a negligence-based legal claim.

The starting point in this inquiry will always look first to the driver of the truck. How was he hired? Did he behave in such a way as to make his conduct behind the wheel unreasonable? Was he distracted? Intoxicated? Fatigued? Was there a problem in his training might have contributed to him or her getting into the accident?

A big rig or an 18-wheeler is a complex piece of equipment. How it is manufactured and maintained may have a bearing on fault for a truck accident: was it made defectively? Was there any missed maintenance that may have led to a dangerous condition in the truck? What about the maintenance personnel themselves, were they properly hired and trained properly?

All of these questions, and more, form the basis for an investigation of whether additional parties may share in the responsibility for an accident involving a commercial truck, and fall under the legal concept of vicarious liability. This post only introduces the topic of how vicarious liability works, and should not be considered to be an exhaustive examination of the subject.

The question of who may be at fault under Tennessee law for a truck accident is not always easy to answer, but it is an important role of a personal injury plaintiff’s attorney to carefully investigate the facts to identify all possible defendants. Having multiple potential sources from which to recover a damages award for injury or property damage can significantly improve the plaintiff’s chances of receiving full compensation, either through settlement of joint and several liability after a trial.

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