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Why Does it Matter if the Truck Driver is an Employee or Independent Contractor?

Wayne, WV – High Schooler Killed in Fatal Accident on State Route 152

Posted on November 13, 2018

Why Does it Matter if the Truck Driver is an Employee or Independent Contractor? You’ve been injured in a truck accident and you know that preserving every piece of evidence and information is one of the only ways that you will be able to obtain the results you deserve in your case. Because of this, you want to know everything you possibly can about the truck driver and the company that employed them. But what if they aren’t considered to be a real employee, and what does this mean for your case?

Sometimes, a truck driver is not considered to be an employee through a company but instead an ‘independent contractor.’ This could spell trouble for you because it might make your case a bit more complicated. If the truck driver is an employee of the company, you might find that the victim has the chance of holding the company as a whole liable for the injuries and other damages that stemmed from the accident case. However, if you find out that the responsible truck driver is merely an independent contractor, you might find that you will have a more difficult time receiving compensation because the truck company has less control over the person who caused your accident. There might be complications if you try to bring a claim against the trucking company, and you might find that you are completely barred from doing so. This means that there is only one person that you can sue for your damages… the truck driver.

When is the Truck Company Liable, Then?  

If the truck driver is considered to be an employee for the company, then they are considered to also be working within the ‘scope of employment.’ To determine if a truck driver was working within the scope of employment, you will have to show the nature of the employee’s conduct, the type of work that they were hired to do, the tasks that the employer should expect from the driver, the freedom permitted by the truck driver, and more.

If the truck driver is an employee and not considered to be doing contract work, you might have a claim against the trucking company if that employee was then working within this scope of employment. This falls under a theory known as ‘vicarious liability,’ where an employer can sometimes end up in legal trouble due to an accident caused by their employee. Let’s say, for example, that the employer sent the truck driver out on a work task driving parcels from one place to another. If the truck driver sideswiped you at an intersection, there is a good chance that the trucking company could also be held liable for these actions because the driver was working for them at the time.

Trucking companies will sometimes hire truck drivers as independent contractors just so that they can avoid liability in the event of an accident, so that the blame solely falls onto the driver. Therefore, if you are involved in one of these accidents, you might find that the trucking company tries to use certain tactics, such as claiming that the truck driver is not their actual employee or that the trucking company does not own the equipment and so there is no chance that they could be liable. These are aspects that you must protect yourself from in the midst of a claim.

If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident, the faster you act, the more likely you are to obtain the best results in your case. At Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, we want to help you obtain important evidence in your case like eyewitness statements, police reports, phone call logs from the driver, and more that could be incredibly useful to you during this difficult time. Call an attorney you can trust when you need them the most. We are waiting to hear from you at 304-431-4050.

Note: Secondary sources were used to create this piece and, because of this, the information included has not been independently verified. If you notice a factual issue with our posting, please bring it to our attention and we will correct or remove it as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: Our intent in these posts it to bring attention to the dangers members in our community face and to encourage caution. Accidents do happen and we hope these posts help those affected. However, this information should not be misconstrued as legal or medical advice, and we urge you to contact a trained legal professional for more information regarding your specific situation.

Katz, Kantor, Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC is located in Princeton and Charleston, WV and serves clients in and around such cities as well as southern West Virginia including but not limited to the counties of Mercer, McDowell, Raleigh, Summers, Monroe, Kanawha and Wyoming.

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