Can I sue a truck company if I’m hurt in a big rig accident?

In many cases the answer is yes. Under a legal theory known as respondeat superior, an individual who is injured by another may be able to hold the defendant’s employer liable for damages. However, certain elements must be present before respondeat superior, which means “let the master answer,” can be enacted. In order to get a better sense of how you can recoup your damages, let’s look at those elements.

First, you typically must show that you were injured by an employee who was working for the employer at the time of the accident. In other words, you must show that the employee was clocked in at the time of the truck accident. Second, it is crucial to establish that the defendant caused your injuries while performing his or her job duties. Thus, if a delivery driver runs a stop sign and hits you while he is on his daily delivery route, then you would likely be able to sue his employer. If, on the other hand, the delivery driver was on the clock but detoured to the store to buy a gift and ran a stop sign and hit you, then you would likely not be able to sue his employer.

Third, you have to establish that the employer benefited from the activity being performed by the defendant employee. In the delivery driver example, if the driver is on his route, then the employer is benefiting because customers are being provided with the goods for which they paid, giving the employer a reputation and profit.

Proving respondeat superior, also known as vicarious liability, is not always easy. Therefore, if you have been hurt in a big rig accident and want to take legal action against the trucker and the truck company for its negligence, then it might be prudent to seek guidance from an experienced Massachusetts attorney.

Source: FindLaw, “Vicarious Liability,” accessed on Jan. 23, 2015


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