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Employer Liability in Trucking Accidents

Posted on April 13, 2022 in

Accidents involving larger commercial trucks are not uncommon on Colorado roadways. However, it can be very difficult to determine liability in the aftermath of these incidents, even if it is fairly clear that the crash was caused by the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company. Here, we want to specifically discuss employer liability in the aftermath of a trucking accident. Will an employer always be held liable for an accident in these situations?

Who is Liable After a Truck Crash – How to Prove It

Determining liability in the aftermath of a commercial truck accident can be challenging. The evidence-gathering process begins right after the crash occurs, but this can be complicated by the fact that individuals may need to seek medical treatment for their injuries. Medical care is the number one priority after a semi-truck crash.

Some of the evidence that can be gathered at the scene and in the days and weeks that follow to prove liability include:

  • Photographs taken at the scene of a crash
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Statements from other drivers and passengers
  • Recording devices from the truck itself
  • Truck company inspection and maintenance records
  • Truck company driver training records
  • Video surveillance footage from nearby homes or businesses
  • The police report

However, determining liability after a truck accident will involve further steps. In a traditional vehicle accident, after a driver is found to be responsible, it will be that driver’s insurance carrier that covers the bills of the other parties involved. However, there may be multiple parties who hold liability for a truck crash, including a truck driver’s employer.

Will an Employer Always be Held Liable?

Many truck drivers on the roadway are employed by a trucking company or carrier. When a truck driver’s actions cause an accident while the driver is carrying out job-related duties, it is very likely that the employer will hold liability for the actions of the driver.

What does this mean for you if you are involved in a truck accident caused by the driver?

Ultimately, even if the truck driver is responsible for the accident, it will likely be the insurance carrier or the assets of the truck carrier that end up paying your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering losses. Truck carriers are required to obtain and maintain certain amounts of insurance in order to remain legal on the roadway and to keep their federal operating number.

This can be complicated if we begin discussing owner-operators. This essentially means that the owner of the vehicle is also the driver. Owner-operators contract with other companies, and in these situations, the other companies may not have much liability at all. Essentially, companies hand over the operation of their trucking services to these freelance owner-operators. However, in these cases, the truck owner-operator is required to carry the minimum amount of insurance required by the federal government and their respective states, which typically matches the insurance that the truck carrier would have.

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a truck accident caused by the actions of a truck driver, you need to explore all possible liable parties. We strongly encourage you to work with a skilled Denver truck accident lawyer who can examine the facts of your case and help you every step of the way.