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Employer Liability In Truck Accidents

Posted on August 1, 2016

In Oklahoma, oil extraction and the transportation of oil are a well-known source of income in the state. Once the oil is extracted, it must be transported, using specific trucks and delivery methods. Just as important is the transportation of the wastewater and equipment that is used to assist in the extraction process. Over the past decade, 36 people have died in Oklahoma as a result of crashes involving trucks transporting any of these dangerous materials. These wrongful death accidents have been caused by many different issues. 

The accidents have been attributed to a number of causes such as unlicensed truck companies, failing brakes, and trucks being over the legal weight. Of the deadly crashes suffered over the years, 24 companies have been named as involved regarding some level of liability due to an accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that of the 24 companies, 7 of them were given the worst rating given by the Administration to still be in operation. While the federal government requires companies to test drivers for drugs and alcohol after an accident, many companies do not, which has led to difficulty in establishing liability in court. Because of this, truck accidents can often be extremely complicated legal cases. 

Is the Employer Responsible?

Under the principle of respondeat superior, a company can be held responsible in an accident caused by an employee if the act was unintentional and committed within the scope of employment. Whether the injured party can come after the driver’s employer to be compensated for damages that resulted in the accident depends on whether the employee truck driver was considered an employee or an independent contractor. If the employee was an independent contractor, the employer is not responsible for his actions; employers are only held responsible for the actions of their employees over whom they have direct control.

Additionally, the act must be within the scope of employment, which is assessed by looking at factors such as the intent of the employee, nature, time and place of the employee’s conduct, type of work, the amount of freedom that employee is given within scope of employment and whether this was the result of a personal activity during employment hours. Lastly, the act must be unintentional; the employer is not liable for intentional acts of employee unless employer ordered to employee to perform them, such as assault.

Reach Out to Us Today

If you or someone you know was hurt due to the negligent driving in a trucking accident, please do not hesitate to contact the experienced and knowledgeable team of attorneys at the office of Charles Bryan Alred, PC to discuss your case. Contact our office using our website or call us at 918-745-9960 for a free initial consultation with one of our skilled legal professionals.