Liability for Commercial Trucking Accidents in Tampa, FL
Almost any accident in which a semi-truck is involved is a devastating one. Commercial big rigs are several times the size of non-commercial trucks and cars, and as such do several times the damage. Fortunately, personal injury law allows you to sue for whatever injuries and losses you accumulated as a result of the accident. If you were recently involved in a truck accident in Tampa, FL, you have a few different options when it comes to recovery. However, in order to determine what legal action to take, you must first determine liability. At The Pendas Law Firm, our Tampa truck accident lawyers will help you prove liability and determine the best way to pursue the compensatory damages.
To many truck accidents victims’ surprise, the driver is not always responsible for the accident. Sometimes, the driver’s company may be held accountable. In personal injury law, there is a theory called “respondeat superior” which means that an employer is essentially responsible for any wrongful acts committed by its employees or agents. However, the acts must have been unintentional and must have been committed within the scope of employment. So for instance, if the trucker was just doing his or her job and transporting materials, and was doing so on company time and under company direction, the company may be liable for the accident. However, if the trucker was driving the big rig off of company time, they made be held accountable for any injuries or damages caused by their actions.
Typically, suing under the theory of respondeat superior is the better route to take, as businesses generally have more money than individual truck drivers. However, having more money also means that they have more resources to expend towards insurance coverage, lawyer fees, and litigation.
Is the Driver an Employee or Independent Contractor?
It will be important to your case to know whether the driver is an employee of the company or an independent contractor. If the driver is an independent contractor, the company may not be held liable for his or her wrongful acts. However, that all depends on the language of the contracts between the driver and the company, and how much control the employer had over the way in which the job was to be accomplished.
What Qualifies as “Within the Scope of Employment?”
It is always difficult to determine whether or not an employee acted within the scope of employment where accidents are concerned, but Florida courts have established some factors to help sort out this issue. They include:
- Intent of the employee at the time of the accident;
- The nature, time, and place of employee’s conduct;
- Type of work the employee was hired to do;
- Incidental acts the employer reasonably expects the employee to take;
- The amount of freedom allowed to the employee in performing his or her duties; and
- The amount of time consumed in the personal activity.
Consult a Tampa Trucking Accident Lawyer
Truck accidents can be scary and emotionally and physically devastating. If you were recently involved in a truck accident in Tampa, you are entitled to legal compensation. To learn more about how to file a claim against an individual trucker and/or his or her company, reach out to our Tampa truck accident lawyers at 888-LPENDAS to schedule an initial consultation. You can also contact us online.
The Pendas Law Firm also serves clients in the Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Miami, Daytona, Bradenton, and Jacksonville areas.