Truck accidents leave devastation in their wake. While passenger vehicles can be completely destroyed in these wrecks, so, too, and victim’s lives. The sad reality is that those who are involved in truck accidents are often left with catastrophic, disabling injuries that reshape the way in which they live their life. The physical and emotional toll can be unbearable, making it hard for these victims to see a hopeful future.
But there can be hope for these victims. That may come in the form of legal action that seeks to hold accountable those who are responsible for the accident and recover compensation for damages suffered. The best way to ensure the fullest recovery possible, though, is to pursue a claim against both the negligent trucker who caused the wreck and his or her employer. But when building a case against a truck company, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
What is vicarious liability?
In short, vicarious liability is a legal theory whereby an employer can be held accountable for the negligent actions of its employee. In the trucking context, this means that a truck company can be sued if one of its drivers causes an accident while on the clock and performing his or her job duties in accordance with his or her employment arrangement. That might sound pretty straightforward, but truck companies aggressively defend against these claims. Let’s look at how they do that.
Frolic and detour
One common defense that truck companies raise is frolic and detour. Here, a truck company essentially argues that the trucker who caused the accident was operating outside the scope of his employment at the time of the accident, and therefore it shouldn’t be held vicariously liable. Evidence under this defense may include a trucker’s texting and driving, trucker intoxication, and deviation from an employer-approved route. Some trucker’s might even run personal errands in their rigs, which would constitute frolic or detour.
Another common tactic utilized by truck companies is raising the issue of contributory fault. Under Illinois law, a car accident victim’s recovery of compensation can be barred entirely if he or she is found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident in question. Even if he or she is less than 50% at fault, any award will be diminished by the victim’s allocation of fault. This means that truck companies can get aggressive in trying to lay the blame at your feet. As a result, you need to be prepared to defend your driving actions.
In multi-vehicle accidents, truck companies oftentimes try to shift the blame as much as they can. While this might mean that you’re on the receiving end of those allegations, so, too, can third parties. Allocating fault in these circumstances can be challenging, which is why it might be helpful to have an accident reconstruction conducted. These reconstructions can give a clearer sense of how an accident occurred and who is to blame.
Factors outside of negligence
Sometimes truck companies try to argue that the accident wasn’t caused by negligence at all. They might claim that weather or road conditions led to the wreck, which, if you’re not careful, can quickly derail your case.
Craft the compelling personal injury case that you deserve
As you can see, there’s a lot to contend with when pursuing a personal injury claim against a trucker and his or her employer. But you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed with the process. Instead, you can be proactive in building the compelling legal arguments that are needed to position your case for success. If you’d like a more in-depth analysis of your unique set of circumstances as well as guidance as to how best to proceed with your case, then you may want to reach out to a legal professional who is well-versed in this area of the law.