Recent posts on this blog have focused on the issue of vicarious liability in personal injury litigation. There are a variety of situations where an employer can become liable for a motor vehicle accident caused by an employee. One common area where this can happen is in truck accident cases.
Trucking is a heavily regulated industry, perhaps not strictly enough according to some, but nevertheless bound by a significant number of rules and regulations. Both drivers and their employers—as well as the independent contractors that work with them—have the responsibility to abide by the various state and federal safety rules governing the industry. These include rules for properly securing cargo, hours of service rules, vehicle maintenance rules, rules for monitoring truckers’ fitness to operate commercial vehicles, and so on.
Take a common example of a truck safety violation—failure to rest breaks as required under the hours of service rules. While it certainly is the responsibility of each trucker to follow and record compliance with federal rest requirements, it is also the responsibility of the employer to monitor employee compliance with the rules. Trucking companies are expected to properly train and instruct their drivers, and to have processes and systems in place to ensure unsafe driving practices are caught and not allowed to continue.