You have a hunch you might need the services of the best Las Vegas truck accident attorney you can find, but for now, you would like to know: where does liability lie in a commercial vehicle accident?
You're smart to inquire since you want to arm yourself with as much information before you consult that attorney, who will guide your efforts every step of the way. Begin your educational journey by knowing how commercial vehicles are defined, the basic rules that guide liability and two conditions on which the entire issue of liability turns.
Many vehicles fall under one definition
Whether you're an employee of a company or an employer, know the term "commercial vehicles" encompasses a wide range of vehicles, including:
- Box trailers
- Buses (school, charter and city)
- Construction vehicles
- Corporate vehicles
- Delivery trucks and vans
- Garbage and dump trucks
- Repair trucks and vehicles
- Taxis and shuttles
- Utility vehicles
Learn the guiding rule
In general, companies are responsible for the actions of their employees. So when a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, the company generally is held liable for damages and the cost of any injuries – as long as the employee's acts were accidental, not intentional, and two other conditions are in place.
This principle is based on the tenet of law known as "respondeat superior," which is Latin for "let the superior make answer." In other words, the "superior" is the employing company and the "answer" is the assumption of liability.
Ascertain driver status
The first qualifying condition is the driver's status. For a company to be held liable for the actions of a driver, the driver must be an employee of the company, not an independent contractor. This is a key distinction because companies generally are not held liable for accidents and other wrongful acts committed by independent contractors.
If you're in doubt about this status, your Las Vegas truck accident attorney can help you make the proper determination. But in general, while independent contractors are responsible for fulfilling job duties, an employer cannot dictate how those duties are carried out and does not possess supervisory authority – very different from the traditional employer-employee relationship.
Focus on "scope of employment"
In addition to being unintentional, an accident must have taken place during the "scope of employment" for a company to be held accountable. In other words, the employee must be performing some act on behalf of the company at the time of the accident.
This makes sense because the opposite scenario does, too. For example, if an employee uses a company vehicle to run a personal errand late at night and gets into an accident, it would not make sense for the company to be held liable for the accident. The vehicle isn't the issue; the reason for the use of the vehicle – the scope of employment – is. In this scenario, the errand had absolutely no connection to company business.
Your Las Vegas Truck Accident Attorneys
While some elements of vehicle liability law are straightforward, always place your trust in the finest Las Vegas truck accident attorney group: Greenman, Goldberg, Raby, and Martinez.
They have come to the emotional, financial and physical rescue of thousands of people in southern Nevada since 1970. And their knowledge of the state's vehicle liability laws is unparalleled. Play your best hunch and turn to only the best: GGRM. Give them a call at 702-388-4476 for a free consultation.