Truck drivers are often expected to drive long distances in relatively short periods of time. Many trucking companies, for example, pay drivers by the mile rather than by the hour. This method of compensation may be seen, under certain circumstances, as a company’s negligent encouragement of an employee’s speeding, driving without rests or breaks, and driving while fatigued, which is treacherous for the driver and any other person on the road. Truck accidents caused by driver or trucking-company negligence very often result in catastrophic injuries or death.
On September 26, 2014, for instance, four college students were killed when a semi-truck slammed into the school bus in which they were riding. The students were members of a women’s softball team that was being transported home to North Central Texas College after a game against Southern Nazarene University, in Bethany, Oklahoma. All four died of massive injuries, three at the scene, and the fourth in a hospital, a short time later. The truck driver was taken to a hospital for treatment and is expected to survive.
The bus was reported to have been traveling southbound on a highway near the Texas border when a northbound semi crossed a wide median strip and rammed the side of the bus, causing it to roll. According to investigators, the truck kept moving after the impact, went off the side of the road, and was not located until about an hour after the accident occurred. Though the exact cause of the accident has not yet been determined, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is reported to have begun an investigation, and Oklahoma authorities are said to be pursuing the possibility of homicide charges.
Any incidence of truck or other driver negligence may result in an accident victim’s serious injury or death. If you have been injured or one of your family members has been killed in a motor vehicle accident involving a truck, bus, or other vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation through legal action. The Killino Firm’s Miami, Florida, truck accident, car accident, personal injury, and wrongful death attorneys have extensive experience with all types of vehicle accident cases, including those arising out of injuries or deaths caused by the negligence of truck drivers and/or their employers. Contact The Killino Firm for a cost-free evaluation of your case and additional information about your legal rights and options.
Legal Responsibility for Traffic Injuries and Deaths Caused by Negligent Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies
In many cases, the direct negligence of both a truck driver and the driver’s trucking-company employer is found to have caused a truck accident and a victim’s resulting injuries. Even when the direct negligence of a trucking company is not a cause of an accident, the trucking company—as the employer of a driver whose negligence is found to have caused an accident victim’s injuries—may be held vicariously, or indirectly, liable for the victim’s injuries or death.
Trucking Company Liability
Trucking companies that employ truck drivers are often found directly liable for personal injuries and deaths sustained by truck crash victims. In many cases, a company’s causal negligence results from its violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) related to the safe operation of trucking activities, which are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and published in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
The FMCSR include the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which dictate the number of hours that a driver of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) may drive, the number of hours a driver may be on duty before rest is required, the minimum amount of time that must be reserved for a driver’s rest, and the total number of hours a driver may be on duty during any one “work week.” Employers of truck drivers are also required, under 49 CFR Part 40, to insist that employees who are about to begin safety-sensitive positions undergo drug and alcohol testing and to prohibit such employees from holding safety-sensitive positions if they fail to meet the testing requirements.
A trucking company’s violation of these and other FMCSR may result in the company’s direct liability for a victim’s accident injuries determined to have resulted from the violation. A company that violates the HOS regulations, for example, may be found directly liable for truck crashes and resulting injuries caused by a driver’s fatigue, while a company’s violation of the alcohol and drug testing regulations can result in the company’s direct liability for accidents and injuries caused by a truck driver who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when a crash occurred. Even if a company requires an employee to adhere to all HOS requirements, the company’s manner of compensating the employee may be determined to have led to the employee’s HOS violation and result in the employer’s direct liability for injuries caused by the driver’s violation.
Truck Driver Liability
Truck drivers may also be found liable for crashes and resulting injuries caused by their own FMCSR violations or other negligence. If, for example, a driver’s employer requires a driver to adhere to all applicable FMCSR and a driver nevertheless violates a regulation or otherwise drives in a negligent manner, the driver may be held directly liable for an accident victim’s injuries or death determined to have been caused by the driver’s negligence. In this situation, if the driver was acting as the employee of his or her employer at the time of the accident, the employer may also be held vicariously liable for the injuries caused by the employee’s negligence. Thus, an employee-driver’s decision to violate HOS regulations by not taking breaks required by FMCSR may result in the direct liability of the driver and the indirect liability of the employer for a victim’s resulting injuries.
Obtain Expert Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.
The Killino Firm’s Miami, Florida, truck and car accident lawyers have achieved national recognition for their successful handling of all types of truck and other vehicle accident cases, including those arising out of the negligence of drivers or drivers’ employers. Contact The Killino Firm for expert assistance with your truck or car accident case.