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When is the trucking company liable for a semitruck crash?

Due to the legal concepts of "vicarious liability" and "respondeat superior," if a truck driver or something related to the truck he or she was driving caused a semitruck crash, the trucking company that employed the driver will be liable to pay for any resulting damages to other parties. Vicarious liability and respondeat superior are legal terms that relate to the fact that employers are legally responsible for the damages caused by their employees while their employees are carrying out their job duties.

Essentially, it doesn't matter if the trucking company was directly at fault. The company must assume liability for the truck driver's actions, unless the employee acted far outside the bounds of his or her employment. Also, if the employee was so grossly negligent -- to the degree that a reasonable employee would have acted in an entirely different way to prevent the accident -- the employer might also be able to escape liability.

That said, there are other circumstances in which a trucking company could be directly at fault for a collision if:

  • The employer failed to properly train the employee in safety procedures and safe driving practices.
  • The trucking company failed to properly maintain the mechanical condition of the truck.
  • The employer engaged in compensation strategies that encouraged the employee to violate commercial trucking regulations.
  • The employer created delivery schedules that were unrealistic and forced the employee to violate the trucking laws.

While employers are generally liable for the actions of their employees, if a trucking company also violates trucking regulations and other standards -- perhaps in situations like the examples above -- then the company could also be directly liable for the accident and resulting injuries and damages.

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