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Arnold & Itkin LLP Truck Accident Blog2013JulyIndirect vs. Direct Liability for Truck Driver Employers

Indirect vs. Direct Liability for Truck Driver Employers

There are many complications and laws that restrict the claims of a truck accident victim. One of the most frustrating tricks employers attempt to use is the indirect liability claim. If an employer admits they are responsible for their truck driver's negligence, it disallows any additional claims of negligent entrustments, hiring, training or supervision. This may seriously limit or delay the compensation of a victim, allowing the employer to walk away unscathed. The issue is that this tort law is not serving the purpose it was intended for. It was solidified during the ruling of Willis vs. Hill in which an employer was considered vicariously liable through their employee. This meant no direct liability would be placed on the employer. They couldn't be held responsible for their own negligent actions, since they already admitted to "full" negligence.

The law originated during a time when contributory negligence was the norm, or the typical way a case was viewed. This means the rule can't apply to any comparative negligence incidents, eliminating equal treatment and compensation in a case. The new understanding should be applied to the old law, adjusting it as necessary for comparative cases. As the tort law stands, it strictly limits the nature of a comparative case. In a case like this, multiple parties are considered to be involved, not just one. For example, a young girl had her driver's permit, but no adult supervision. She followed all traffic rules, but was in a head on collision with a sleepy truck driver. If she was slightly at fault in this case, under contributory negligence, the employer could argue to have the claims dismissed.

Comparative negligence allows for multiple parties to be included, which means recovery isn't denied, only mitigated. The young girl would be held responsible for driving without a license, but would not be forced to pay for all her own medical injuries caused by the truck driver. This standard is much fairer, and should be considered by the courts as the general rule. While not all jurisdictions hold to this abused law, many still enforce its restrictive nature. Employers are able to essentially remove themselves from the picture by admitting their indirect liability. This places all emotional and financial blame on an employee, even if the company covers it to some degree. Through this tactical admission, employers remove their responsibility and name from the picture.

Truck accident attorneys continue to fight for this rule to be overturned or re-examined by the courts. While few have consented, many still hold tightly to its ruling. If you have been injured in a truck accident and want to hold the negligent driver and their employer responsible, contact Arnold & Itkin LLP. Our firm has helped countless victims recover the compensation they deserve for their case. Fill out a free case evaluation today to start discussing your case with a seasoned truck accident lawyer from our firm.

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