Author: John Colbert, Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys
Any kind of car accident is a nerve-wracking experience, but getting into an accident with a semi truck can be an even scarier experience. It can also, unfortunately, be a more complicated experience since you need to determine whether the driver or their company is responsible for the accident. Continue reading to learn more about how to determine who’s at fault if you were hit by a semi truck in Knoxville, and consider consulting a truck accident lawyer at McMahan Law Firm to assist you with your case.
Is the Driver or Their Employer at Fault?
In certain situations, the employer of the truck driver is responsible if the driver unintentionally causes an accident while they are on the job. Known as “respondeat superior,” this theory of liability maintains that, because a certain amount of wrongful conduct is bound to happen, employers should be held accountable for their employees’ wrongdoing. The employee committed the wrongful act while working for their company, so the company itself should be responsible.
Additionally, respondeat superior recognizes the fact that companies themselves have much more funds than their employees. Using the company’s insurance and the funds of the entire business is a safer, more effective way of handling damages caused by misconduct. Therefore, as long as the driver caused the accident unintentionally and while on the job, their liability for the resulting damages is transferred to their employer.
Were You Hit While the Driver was Working?
Determining whether the accident occurred while the driver was on the job isn’t as easy as it sounds. You must determine if the driver’s activities at the time of the accident were “within the scope of employment.” For example, if a driver leaves work early to go to a concert and hits another car in the parking lot, the driver rather than their employer may be held responsible since going to a concert isn’t “within the scope of employment.”
On the other hand, if the driver hits another vehicle while they are making a delivery, the employer may be held accountable since the driver was acting “within the scope of employment.”
Courts look at certain factors to determine whether the driver was acting “within the scope of employment” and, therefore, who is responsible. These factors include the time, place and nature of the employee’s action, the intent of the employee, what kind of work the employer hired the employee to do and how much freedom the employee has when performing their work duties.
Is the Driver an Independent Contractor or an Employee?
When trying to determine whether the driver or their employer is at fault for an accident, you also need to determine what kind of employee they are. If the driver is an independent contractor, it’s unlikely that the company will be held responsible for their actions. Companies are generally not responsible for the actions of their independent contractors because the companies only control the result of the work, not how the employee accomplishes the result.
In cases where the driver is an official employee of the company, the company is responsible for their actions. This is because the employer is also responsible for the means and manner that their employees accomplish their work to produce the desired result.
Contact McMahan if You Were Hit by a Semi Truck in Knoxville
If you were hit by a semi truck in Knoxville, TN, contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers at McMahan Law Firm. We’re here to represent you and help you get the compensation you deserve for your losses.
About The Author
John Colbert is a truck accident lawyer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and has been practicing personal injury law for more than 25 years. John is the founding partner of Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys which also welcomes cases related to car accidents, workers’ compensation, and social security disability.