Vicarious liability and truck accidents

Massachusetts’ drivers often share the roadways with different sized vehicles, but all vehicles must respect the rules of the road, regardless of their size. This includes big rigs and 18-wheel trucks that often cross state lines carrying people and freight with disturbing speed. Size disparity means that a motorist or motorcyclist involved in a crash with a truck is more likely to be severely injured than the truck driver.

As has been mentioned previously on this blog, it may be possible to hold a truck driver accountable for their negligence while operating the truck. Unfortunately though, the injuries sustained in a truck accident can often lead to expensive hospital treatment that a truck driver, usually earning hourly wages, cannot cover. What alternatives are available for truck accident victims?

They may be able to recover compensation from the truck driver’s employer under the doctrine of vicarious liability. In this situation, a party can be held responsible for the unlawful actions of a third-party. For example, a supervising party, such as the employer, would bear responsibility for the actionable conduct of a subordinate, such as the employee — the truck driver in this scenario. This liability is based on the relationship between the two parties.

Since the employer is the one who bears the responsibility of ensuring their employees are trained properly and follow traffic rules, holding them accountable can be one way to ensure they live up to their obligations and make the roads safer for everyone. An experienced lawyer may be able to ascertain whether this doctrine applies in one’s truck accident.


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