It is hard to go out onto the roads these days and not see multiple delivery trucks. Companies such as Amazon have seemingly taken over the retail sector as more people shop online. Other specialized delivery companies such as FedEx and UPS are seeing booming business and record profits. Society has transformed from people going to stores to do their shopping to one where deliveries are made to your front doorstep. More delivery trucks on the road mean that there is a greater potential for accidents. Not all of these drivers are extensively trained, and many do not exercise the appropriate care behind the wheel.
You may be entitled to financial compensation if you have been injured in an accident with a delivery truck driver. The question is where you go to seek this financial compensation. In order to fully answer this question, you must understand the exact nature of the relationship between the driver and the company on whose behalf they are delivering.
You Can Sue the Company that Employed the Delivery Truck Driver
In most cases, you would file a claim or lawsuit against the company that employed the delivery truck driver who injured you. A fundamental principle of personal injury law is that an employee is the agent of their company so long as they acted within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. In other words, if the driver was on the job doing what they were employed to do, the company is legally responsible for the actions. This legal doctrine is known as respondeat superior. Although you could sue the driver for the accident, it would make more sense to sue the company because they are the ones with the insurance coverage and the assets to pay for your damages.
Commercial truck insurance companies often have minimums that do not allow them to write policies that are under $1 million. In addition, a corporate defendant has other assets that can be used to pay for your damages if they are greater than the insurance policy limit.
The defendant in a delivery truck accident case is not always immediately apparent. As more deliveries are being made and more people get into the business, there could be complicated
ownership structures that come into play. Some companies employ others to make deliveries, while others may use owner-operators.
Who to Sue When the Company Does Not Actually Employ the Driver
In some cases, a company uses independent contractors to make deliveries on its behalf. They do this to:
- Avoid having to pay the delivery truck drivers employee benefits
- Protect themselves from legal liability if the drivers are involved in crashes
Some companies may use a mix of their own employees and independent contractors to make deliveries. For example, Amazon has its own drivers in addition to contracting with delivery companies. Some trucking companies act as independent contractors for retail businesses. In that case, you could still sue the trucking company.
If a delivery truck driver is truly an independent contractor, then the company may not be sued. You would need to take legal action against the delivery truck driver or their own company.
Not Every Independent Contractor Is Really Independent
However, there are some cases where the delivering company may retain the ability to direct and control someone who they claim is an independent contractor. In that case, a court may look past the designation of the driver as an independent contractor, claiming that it is a legal fiction. Then, you may still be able to sue the company.
In addition, you can sue the company if they were negligent in hiring or retaining an independent contractor. Before a company like Amazon or FedEx contracts with a driver, they must carefully check their background to ensure that they are not a danger to the general public. If they learn that a current driver is acting dangerously (either behind the wheel or through something like a drug or alcohol conviction), the company would need to terminate the arrangement with the independent contractor or more closely monitor them. Otherwise, you could file a lawsuit for negligent hiring.
Even if the delivery truck driver works for themselves, they will still have a large insurance policy in place to pay for your accident injuries. If they do not have enough accident insurance, they may be personally liable to pay for your damages.
Suing the Manufacturer of the Truck Itself
Another potential lawsuit for a delivery truck accident would be against the manufacturer of the truck if the vehicle or a part were defective. In some cases, the truck may roll over, or the brakes may fail, even if the driver or the trucking company has done nothing wrong. If you are able to prove that the truck had one of several defects, the manufacturer would be strictly liable in a lawsuit. You can also file a lawsuit against the seller of the truck because they are in the stream of commerce.
Your truck accident attorney will look to broaden your case to include as many defendants as possible. More defendants do not mean that you can recover more in damages because you are only paid for what you suffer. However, it does mean that there is more insurance coverage and assets to pay for your damages fully. Your personal injury lawyer will perform a complete investigation of the crash to determine who was responsible and how you can recover financially from them.
Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Today
The Arshakyan law firm doggedly pursues financial compensation on behalf of our injured clients. We will act aggressively to get to the bottom of what happened in your delivery truck accident, so you can know who may be legally responsible. Then, we will pursue the defendant in a methodical and diligent manner. We will not stop until you get what you legally deserve. Your first step is to send us a message online or call us at (888) 851-5005 to schedule your free initial consultation. You owe us nothing unless we help you win your case.