Sometimes in commercial vehicle collisions, the other vehicle is at fault. People in standard passenger vehicles can make mistakes that lead to semitruck collisions. In slightly more than half of the collisions involving at least two vehicles, one of which is a commercial truck, the bigger vehicle is at fault for the wreck.
You might assume that the driver would be to blame whenever a commercial truck causes a crash. However, that is not necessarily true. When the driver who causes a crash is an employee at a commercial transportation company, the company that employs them can occasionally have liability for the crash that occurred.
When is an employer potentially to blame?
When bad maintenance leads to a wreck
In 3% of commercial crashes, environmental factors are to blame, not the actions of the driver. In another 10% of crashes, something with the vehicle is to blame for the wreck occurring. If the condition of the vehicle is to blame for the wreck, then poor maintenance or bad components used by the trucking company could be the reason.
Inadequate maintenance absolutely leads to company liability. Bad brakes, old tires and a host of other preventable issues cause some modern trucking crashes. Some of those collisions might also be the result of improperly-loaded trailers. This could cause liability both for the employer and for clients that load trailers and then arrange to have professionals pick them up and transport them.
When they have improper employment practices
Trucking companies can help cause crashes even when they maintain their fleet vehicles appropriately. Requiring that workers respond to text messages or emails when they are on the job could cause distracted driving.
Demanding that workers meet certain timetables by offering pay incentives could lead to drivers speeding recklessly or driving when they have already exceeded the hours of service limitations for the week or the day. Inadequate training or the decision to hire a driver with multiple infractions on their record could also lead to some liability for a commercial transportation company when one of their drivers causes a wreck.
Knowing who is ultimately liable will be an important part of getting justice after a commercial vehicle crash.