Commercial truck accidents can inflict devastating and even fatal injuries, not only to one other person, but to multiple drivers and passengers with whom the truck driver was sharing the road at the time of the collision. Since commercial trucks may weigh up to 30 times more than a passenger car, a truck driver could walk away from a crash without a scratch even though his negligence seriously harmed or even killed others. Each person injured by the truck may pursue their damages in a lawsuit against the truck driver, and the driver’s policy limits may be quickly exhausted. However, the corporate entity that hired, supervised, and trained the truck driver may also bear responsibility. In many cases, the corporate entity is a trucking company, which is required to carry significantly more insurance than its drivers must carry on an individual basis. If you are concerned about corporate responsibility after a crash in which you were injured, you should discuss your situation with the experienced Syracuse truck accident attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. We seek the best results.Corporate Responsibility
Truck drivers who travel on interstate roads must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These regulations require truck drivers to keep logbooks of their hours of service, abide by prohibitions against drugs and alcohol, and take rest breaks after driving for specified periods of time, among other things. In addition, trucking companies must follow certain regulations in order to prevent their drivers from getting into crashes or placing others on the road in unsafe situations.
If a trucking company did not follow the applicable regulations and rules, it could have corporate responsibility for a Syracuse accident that resulted in your injuries. Trucking companies could be held accountable in a suit, for example, if they didn’t properly inspect their trucks according to the FMCSA regulations or failed to inspect after their driver alerted them to a potential issue that required inspection. Additionally, they could be accountable for a collision arising out of their failure to address a truck part that required repair or failed to replace parts that have fallen out of warranty or otherwise presented a danger. When their employees improperly load cargo onto the truck and don’t do so appropriately, they may have responsibility for accidents caused by cargo falling onto the road.Liability
A trucking company may be held accountable for damages if our attorneys can establish liability. It could be vicariously liable for your damages if its employee failed to use reasonable care while in the course and scope of the company’s employment. Vicarious liability is a form of indirect responsibility; in that situation, the trucking company would only have to pay damages if its employee was found liable for your injuries.
Historically, some trucking companies have hired truck drivers and misclassified them as independent contractors in order to avoid paying them benefits. However, in New York, to be a true independent contractor, a truck driver must be:
- Free from control in performing his job according to his contract and in fact;
- Performed his services outside the employer’s business;
- Engaged in an independently established job, busines, or trade similar to the driving it did for the trucking company.
When a trucking company fails to classify its employee appropriately, it may be liable for penalties with regard to that, in addition to damages arising out of its employee’s negligence.
A trucking company can also be held accountable for its own negligence that results in an accident; generally, it can be held responsible for negligent hiring, supervising, or training. For instance, if the company failed to check its truck driver’s logbook but would have seen that the truck driver was not taking the requisite rest breaks, it could be held accountable for negligent supervision in the event that the truck driver caused a crash due to his fatigue.
Similarly, if a trucking company failed to conduct a background check that would have revealed the driver was an addict and then the driver got in an accident caused by his opiate use, it could be held accountable for negligent hiring.
Sometimes trucking companies are penalized for wrongdoing and simply reincorporate under a different name, and continue to fail to abide by the rules, resulting in further accidents. There are also situations in which insurance coverage is insufficient to address many different claimants’ catastrophic injuries and fatalities, and due to failure to follow certain formalities, the corporate veil should be pierced to reach the corporation’s assets. We will look into those questions when reviewing your case, as well.Retain a Seasoned Truck Accident Attorney
If you are concerned about corporate responsibility in Upstate New York, you should call the seasoned Syracuse truck accident lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. We represent clients in Lowville, Rochester, Auburn, Watertown, Herkimer, Oswego, Wampsville, Canandaigua, Lyons, Ithaca, Cooperstown, Oneida, Utica, Binghamton, and Elmira. Complete our online form or call us at 315-479-9000 for a free consultation.