Many serious auto accidents involve a truck driver or another motorist who is working as a paid driver when the accident occurs. These commercial drivers are held to a high standard when driving, and they are assumed to have the training necessary to be able to safely operate their vehicles in all types of circumstances. Often, when a commercial driver is found to be at fault, it is because they lack the necessary training or support that should have been provided by their employer. In such cases, the driver’s employer may also be held liable by anyone injured as a result of the driver’s negligence.
Employer liability will not automatically be present in all cases involving a paid driver. There must be some act of negligence on the employer’s part. For instance, this could be a failure to train the negligent driver, or a failure to maintain the truck in a safe working condition. It could also result from an employer’s failure to provide the necessary support for the driver. In each of these cases, a court may determine that both the driver and their employer are at fault in the accident.
Court Upholds Employer Liability in Fatal Truck Accident
Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a case against a trucking company owner. The court determined that the employer was also at fault in the fatal accident, and that the jury’s verdict in the amount of $3 million should be applied against the employer as well as the truck’s driver.
The accident occurred when the employer hired a relative to haul logging equipment across state lines. A part of that journey required that the truck pass over a narrow bridge. Rather than call the sheriff to close the road ahead of the truck, the employer went ahead to “close” the road himself. However, the employer failed to stop a car from entering the threshold of the bridge, and the car continued toward the truck that was towing the logging equipment. As the truck driver saw the car heading toward him, he moved over to the other side of his lane. However, in doing so, the logging equipment struck the side of the bridge and came loose, crashing into the oncoming car. The driver of that car was killed, and his family sued both the truck driver as well as the driver’s employer.
The employer unsuccessfully argued that he did not owe a duty of care to the deceased motorist and that even if such a duty did exist, he did not breach it by failing to stop the motorist. However, the court considered testimony from a local sheriff, indicating that the normal procedure is to call the sheriff’s office, and a sheriff will officially close off the bridge to oncoming traffic. This was not done, and the court determined that the employer’s conduct was a breach of a legal duty. As a result, the plaintiff’s family will be able to collect the $3 million verdict from both the truck driver as well as his employer.
Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a civil lawsuit. It is important for putative plaintiffs to keep in mind that there may be more than just one party responsible for the accident and for your injuries. By consulting with a dedicated personal injury attorney early in the process, you can ensure that your case will be handled efficiently and effectively, with as little delay as possible. Call one of the skilled attorneys at Charles B. Roberts & Associates at 888-407-4529 to set up your free consultation today.
See More Blog Posts:
Punitive Damages Awards in Injury and Wrongful Death Cases Often Exceed Compensatory Damages, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, March 4, 2016.
The Enforceability of Liability Release Waivers in Virginia Courts, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 3, 2016.