Can Trucking Companies Avoid Liability?
The truck accident lawyers at Whiting Law Group, Ltd. understand how difficult it can be to identify the right legal action if you are in a trucking accident. Let us help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Trucking Companies and Liability
In the past, trucking companies often tried to avoid liability for trucking accidents by creating distance between themselves and the driver, the vehicle, and the equipment. Trucking companies would do this in the following ways:
- Permits. The trucking company obtains the necessary permits to operate the truck. However, the company often does not own the tractor, trailer, or equipment used to haul the goods. Instead, the trucking company would lease the equipment, tractors, and trailers from the "owner/operator."
- Independent Contractors. The trucking company would avoid liability by not directly employing the drivers. Instead, it hires them as independent contractors from the owner/operator.
- Placards. The trucking company would give the owner/operator a "placard," which includes the name of the trucking company and its permit numbers. The placard is then affixed to the door of the tractor, making it appear as though the truck is owned by the named trucking company and the driver is an employee of the named trucking company.
In the event that the truck is involved in an accident and the trucking company is sued, it would argue that:
- The driver was not the trucking company's employee, so the trucking company is not liable for driver error, or
- The trucking company does not own the equipment, so it is not responsible for the operation, maintenance, repair, and inspections of the equipment.
Fortunately, federal laws and regulations have put an end to these arguments. Under current federal law, any company owning a trucking permit is responsible for all accidents involving a truck that has its placard or name displayed on the vehicle.
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