Employer Liability in Trucking Accidents

Accidents involving larger commercial trucks often result in severe injuries for those involved. This is particularly true for those inside smaller passenger vehicles on the roadway. Truck accidents occur in a variety of ways. In some cases, the truck driver’s actions directly cause the incident. However, there are times when truck driver employers could hold liability for a trucking accident. Here, we want to discuss employer liability for truck accidents that occur on Oregon roadways.

Employers Who Employ The Drivers Directly

Commercial truck accidents occur in a wide variety of ways throughout the state of Oregon. Often, these accidents are caused by the actions of the truck driver themselves. This can include the driver:

  • Failing to obey traffic laws
  • Allowing the truck to be overloaded with cargo
  • Failing to inspect the truck before a trip
  • Operating beyond the allowable hours of service
  • Operating while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Distracted driving

When a truck driver is employed directly by a truck company, then the trucking company will likely ultimately have liability for the accident. Employers in these situations become vicariously liable for the actions of their employees, so long as the employee was carrying out job-related duties when the accident occurred.

Additionally, trucking companies can be held directly liable for their own actions that cause a vehicle accident. This can include failing to regularly inspect or maintain the vehicles, not properly training drivers, failing to conduct adequate background checks on new drivers, and failing to ensure that all drivers follow state and federal safety regulations.

Employers Who Use Independent Contractors

Many truck drivers on the roadways throughout Oregon are considered independent owner-operators of the vehicles. This means that they own their trucks and hire out their services to other companies. After an accident with a commercial truck and discovering that the driver is an independent contractor, individuals often assume that no corporation will be held liable for the damages. This is not always the case.

Federal law in this country does not allow truck companies to escape their responsibility for drivers, regardless of employment status. It is crucial for any crash victim in these situations to work with a skilled truck accident lawyer in Oregon who can examine the facts of the case. An attorney will conduct a full investigation into the claim and work to establish exactly what happened and to show the relationship between the independent contractor and the company they work for.

The Company That Loaded the Truck

One of the main causes of large truck crashes in Oregon includes improperly loaded cargo. When cargo is not loaded correctly on a commercial truck, it could lead to serious accidents. Improperly loaded cargo could fall onto the roadway and lead to accidents with other vehicles. Additionally, improperly loaded cargo could throw off proper vehicle balance and cause the driver to lose control of the truck.

Federal law requires that all cargo be properly secured on commercial trucks during transport. In some cases, the company responsible for loading this cargo is not the same company that employs the driver. If an accident is caused by improperly loaded cargo, it may be possible to hold the company that loaded the cargo responsible for damages.

Again, it is crucial to work with a skilled Portland truck accident attorney who can handle the investigation into these claims and examine the complex nature of the relationships involved between drivers and companies.