Can an employer be liable for a truck accident?

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2020 | Truck Accidents

A truck accident in Cincinnati can leave you facing a veritable mountain of medical expenses and vehicle repair costs. The financial impact can often exceed what you may receive from compensation from an insurance provider, requiring you to seek legal action against those responsible for your collision. You may think liability begins and ends with the driver that hits you. Yet what about the trucking company that employs them? 

One might make a strong argument for the fact that the truck driver that caused your truck accident would never have been in the position to do so if not for the obligation they had to their employer. Thus, you might assume that their employer should share in the liability. Yet is that truly the case? 

Defining “respondeat superior”

According to the Cornell Law School, the legal principle of “respondeat superior” (Latin for “let the master answer”) assigns vicarious liability to employers for the actions of their employees. When applying respondeat superior to a liability claim, the standard for sharing responsibility typically depends on whether the actions of the employee at the time of the incident fell within the scope of their employment (or otherwise provided some benefit to the employer). 

What is within the scope of employment?

You might think any action that occurs while an employee is “on-the-clock” is within the scope of their employment, yet that may not be true. If, for example, the driver that hit you did so while taking a break from a route (such as traveling to find a place to eat or rest), then the employer might argue that such action is not part of their job responsibilities. Yet such an argument is difficult to make while a driver is in the process of completing a route. 

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