You may be shocked to hear this, but you cannot always hold trucking companies responsible for the negligent, reckless, intentional or wrongful acts on the part of their drivers. In some cases, it may not be possible even if the company was aware of the wrongful act…
It is true that a trucking company can be held liable for the actions of the drivers who have been employed by that company. But when there is no employer-employee relationship between the company and the driver, or, in other words, when the driver is classified as an independent contractor, there is very little you can do to hold the trucking company liable.
“But do not get frustrated just yet,” says our Los Angeles truck accident attorney at the Compass Law Group, LLP First of all, it often happens that trucking companies misclassify the status of their drivers in order to escape liability. And this is something your experienced truck accident attorney in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California will have to look into.
How trucking companies escape liability for truck accidents
Bizarrely, you may not be able to hold a trucking company liable for a truck accident caused by their independent contractor who was drunk at the time of the collision even if the company was aware that the driver was intoxicated and did nothing to prevent him or her from operating the truck.
Not long ago, the California Court of Appeal held that the trucking company could not be held liable for the injuries and damages caused by one of its independent contractors even though the plaintiffs claimed that the company failed to prevent the driver from driving when he appeared drunk to load the cargo onto the truck.
In its defense, the company argued that the driver was not one of its employees and that it did not own the truck. Having no special relationship with the at-fault drunk driver involved in the fatal collision allowed the trucking company to distance itself from the driver and avoid liability.
How something like this is even possible?
In case you are wondering how something like this is even possible, let our best truck accident lawyers in California explain. When someone owes you no duty of care, you cannot hold that person or business liable.
Similarly, the trucking company owed the plaintiff (or anyone else, for that matter) no duty of care because it did not employ the drunk truck driver nor did it own the truck involved in the collision. If the truck driver was employed by the company, it would have been held liable for its omission to act (preventing the driver to operate the truck under the influence of alcohol).
In a nutshell, the court held that the trucking company could not be held responsible for the injuries and damages caused by its independent contractor because it did not employ the driver or entrust him with the truck, and therefore, did not owe the plaintiff the duty to try and stop from loading his truck while intoxicated.
Cases like these are not uncommon in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California. And while these cases seem bizarre, they are correct from the legal standpoint. You need to be represented by a Los Angeles truck accident attorney from the Compass Law Group, LLP to be aware of all the potential legal challenges in your particular case.