During COVID-19, commercial trucking is more important than ever, but with the relaxed federal and state regulations to facilitate rapid deployment of resources, the risks for trucking accidents has exponentially increased. Trucking regulations can be somewhat confusing even without the complications added by COVID-19. Who is responsible in an accident if you are driving for a company? What if you are driving for yourself?
Littman & Babiarz, personal injury attorneys in Ithaca, Auburn and Syracuse, can provide talented and experienced legal counsel and representation if you are involved in a commercial trucking accident. Call us at 607-277-7527 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Commercial Trucking Liability Questions
A vital aspect of any commercial trucking personal injury case is establishing who was at fault in the accident. Every motor vehicle accident is unique; but trucking accidents can have added layers of complexity due to the issues of ownership involved. Some aspects of liability fall squarely on the trucking company, and others on the company driver. But some areas are questionable, and require the resources of a personal injury law firm in Auburn, NY like Littman & Babiarz.
Some basic guidelines for establishing liability follow. Specific regulations that govern commercial trucking can be obtained from the New York State Department of Transportation, Office of Modal Safety & Security, Truck & Motor Carrier Safety Division.
The truck driver could be held liable when:
- Damages are intentional, or the driver is guilty of unlawful actions or gross neglect. For example, during assigned driving time, the driver stops for a few drinks. Later he is involved in an accident because of slowed reactions times due to alcohol. The driver is primarily liable, because he was engaged in actions beyond the scope of, and in violation of, his employment.
- The driver is independently contracted to drive a truck for the company. If a driver is not a direct employee of the company, then he or she is usually held liable for the accident.
The company could be held liable when:
- The driver was working within his or her scope of employment and the accident was unintentional. Some examples could include:
- A driver working within the scope of his or employment is involved in an accident. No negligence or activity directly contributed to the accident. The company is usually liable.
- Other company employees are assigned the task of loading a truck and securing the load. If the load comes loose and causes an accident, the company, not the driver, is usually held liable.
- Maintenance is the responsibility of the company. Any accident directly caused by poor maintenance or equipment failure is the responsibility of the company and not the driver.
Commercial Trucking and COVID-19
As mentioned above, some important federal and state trucking regulations have been temporarily suspended to facilitate the rapid delivery of essential goods. Weight limits and time behind the wheel are virtually unrestricted. This means that those navigating New York roadways can encounter heavily overloaded commercial trucks. These trucks are being driven by tired, overworked professional drivers, whose timing and reflexes may be impaired.
If you suffer a commercial trucking accident and COVID-19 provisions have contributed its cause, there may be a case for personal injury that could include new liable parties. This is a brand-new consideration that only experienced personal injury attorneys in Syracuse and Ithaca like Littman and Babiarz are equipped to handle.
If you are involved in a commercial trucking accident, call 607-277-7527 or send us a message online to schedule your free initial consultation.