While semi-trucks are an essential part of commerce in Florida and across the U.S., it is no secret that sharing the road with semi-trucks can be dangerous. Truckers may speed in order to make faster deliveries or may drive while fatigued, ignoring federal rest requirements. Some truckers might even drive drunk, drive while texting or drive while eating.
A distracted, drowsy or drunk truck driver can easily cause a trucking accident that injures another motorist. These motorists may want to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the trucker and other responsible parties through the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior.”
Negligence and liability
Before we can discuss respondeat superior, it is important to understand negligence. The victim in a motor vehicle accident may be able to pursue a legal claim based on negligence. Negligence has four elements. First, the plaintiff must owe the defendant a duty. When it comes to truck accidents, this is a duty to drive as an ordinarily prudent person would under similar circumstances. Second, the defendant must breach this duty, for example, by crashing into another motorist. Third, the plaintiff must have suffered a compensable injury. Fourth, the breach must have caused the injury, that is, it was foreseeable and but for the breach the injury would not have occurred.
Under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can be held liable for the wrongdoings of their employee. However, the wrongdoing must have occurred within the scope of employment. So, if a semi-truck company hires a trucker as an employee and the trucker causes a truck accident while on the job, the semi-truck company may be held liable for the trucker’s acts. However, it is important to note that respondeat superior does not apply to independent contractors. So, if a trucker is an independent contractor rather than an employee of the semi-truck company, respondeat superior will not apply.
Know your rights
Ultimately, it is important to understand your rights regarding negligence and truck accidents. It is important to hold all responsible parties accountable. This way, you can seek the full amount of compensation you are entitled to.