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Who is liable in a tractor trailer accident?

An accident between a motor vehicle and a tractor trailer can be frightening for everyone involved. Tractor trailers outweigh other automobiles dramatically and they may carry materials that are hazardous or even flammable. If a driver or passenger in a vehicle has been injured in a tractor trailer accident in Dallas, it may be possible to pursue a lawsuit to recover damages for injuries suffered.

In pursuing a lawsuit following an accident with a tractor trailer, the question is often - who is liable? An inattentive or drunk truck driver certainly may be liable, but the driver may not have sufficient funds to compensate a victim. A trucking company, in contrast, may have the means to provide compensation.

The law recognizes this difference and consequently may allow a trucking company to be held liable for a person's serious injuries. If an employment relationship between the truck driver and the trucking company is shown, legally the trucking company may be held liable. Therefore, the trucking company may bear financial responsible to compensate the injured driver. Even though it was not the trucking company actually driving the truck that injured someone, employers can be held liable because they are deemed to be directing their employees. Just as employers reap the benefits of an employee's work by profiting from it, they may also have to share in damages an employee causes.

Unfortunately, if a truck driver is an independent contractor, an employment relationship may not exist, and the trucking company may not be deemed to be legally liable. However, if a trucking company exercises a great deal of supervision over the truck driver, an employment relationship may be shown to exist which could lead to establishing the legal liability of the trucking company.

Whether a trucking company can be held liable will be specific to each particular accident. An attorney familiar with personal injury law may be able to provide information so that an injured person can understand the legal landscape following an accident.

Source: FindLaw, "Truck Accident FAQ," Accessed April 9, 2015

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Jerry D. Andrews, P.C.
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