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Truck accidents and vicarious liability

Truck accident victims can suffer serious injuries that affect his or her physical, emotional, and financial well-being. The financial cost to treat these harms can be devastating high, threatening to throw a victim and his or her family into financial ruin. Fortunately, these victims can seek compensation for their damages via a personal injury lawsuit. But when filed against a negligent trucker, a victim may be rightly concerned about the trucker's ability to pay for the full extent of the damage caused.

This is where vicarious liability can kick in to help a victim hopefully reach a more favorable outcome. Under the legal theory of vicarious liability, an employer can be held liable for the actions of its employee. Therefore, if a trucking company hires a trucker who then, while acting negligently, causes an injurious accident, then the trucking company may be forced to help pay for damages. This can be quite significant, as trucking companies often have deeper pockets and are more able to pay the full extent of a victim's damages.

Proving vicarious liability has its own challenges, however. First of all, vicarious liability can only be imposed when an accident occurs while an employee is within the scope of his employment. Therefore, if a truck decides to take a detour to stop at a liquor store and causes a truck accident while on that detour, then a victim will likely be unable to hold the truck company liable.

Those who have been hurt in a truck wreck should certainly consider the full extent of their legal rights, including the possibility of suing for vicarious liability. By discussing one's specific case with a knowledgeable attorney, a victim may be able to gain a better grasp of his or her case's status and likelihood of success.

Source: FindLaw, "Vicarious Liability and Negligent Entrustment," accessed on Dec. 21, 2015

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John McCabe wrote "The Investigation and Analysis of Personal Injury Cases" in the best-selling book Personal Injury Practice in North Carolina. This is the book that other lawyers follow in handling personal injury cases.

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