Are Truckers Usually Liable for Truck Accidents?

Are Truckers Usually Liable for Truck Accidents?

The maintenance and fielding of a truck fleet is complex, as maintenance personnel, cargo loaders, trucking companies, and other third-party groups all play a role in the overall performance of a truck and its driver. However, driver error is the leading cause of truck accidents, accounting for 87% of all 18-wheeler crashes. This begs the question: is the trucker likely to be liable for any truck accident? It depends, but the company tends to accept liability for truck crashes instead.

The Company’s Shared Liability 

Are Truckers Usually Liable for Truck Accidents?Trucking companies are inherently responsible for actions taken by their employees, as they have a direct hand in the hiring, training, and employment of drivers. As such, liability is often shared by, or deflected to, the company, even if the trucker was the one who erred. This is only the case as long as the trucker was “acting within the scope of their employment,” which simply means that they were in the process of working their job to reasonable standards. 

Alternatively, the company could be singlehandedly liable for an accident if they had a more direct hand in negligent affairs, such as by:

  • Failing to maintain and repair fleet vehicles to an appropriate degree.
  • Encouraging drivers to break regulations or prioritize deliveries over safety.
  • Hiring inept or untrustworthy drivers and/ or failing to train drivers.

How Truck Drivers Can Be Liable

Despite the large role that trucking companies play, they aren’t universally responsible for every truck accident their drivers are involved in. While a trucker can be at least partly liable for any accident, certain scenarios will make them primarily to blame:

  • Independent contractors are usually responsible for their truck and their own driving tendencies, meaning that the companies that employ them will almost never be responsible for crashes they cause.
  • As mentioned prior, truckers must be working within “the scope of their employment” in order for the company to share fault. If a trucker was off-duty or doing things outside of what the company could expect, such as by taking an unnecessary detour, then they’d be alone in their liability.
  • “Scope of employment” also refers to a trucker’s intent to fulfill the duties of their job responsibly. If a trucker deliberately causes an accident, drives drunk, violates Arizona’s hours of service regulations, or otherwise acts with extreme negligence, then they’d be singularly responsible since the company couldn’t predict that behavior.

Determining Liability for Arizona Truck Accidents

If you’ve been hurt in an Arizona truck accident, you’ll need the help of a legal professional in order to determine liability. A lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation into every aspect of the accident and all of the trucker’s behaviors, painting a clearer picture of who you can turn to for compensation. Give ELG a call today at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation with one of our truck accident lawyers in Arizona, and we’ll help simplify the claims process for you, making it easy to pursue as much compensation as possible while avoiding potential pitfalls or dishonest insurance adjuster tactics.