After a serious auto wreck, it is important for an injury victim to find out who was responsible for the accident. Armed with this information, the victim can pursue a personal injury claim against the correct parties, as Minnesota law allows.
Typically, one of the drivers is to blame, or multiple drivers share the fault. But when the driver of a semi or other commercial truck causes a collision, another party could be on the hook for the injuries: the trucking company that hired the truck driver.
What is vicarious liability?
Minnesota’s personal injury law includes a concept called “vicarious liability.” It means employers can be liable for injuries caused by their employees’ negligence, if the negligence occurred during the regular course of business. For truckers, the “regular course of business” almost always includes time they spend on the road.
An example of vicarious liability
Let’s say tractor-trailer driver is traveling on I-94 and texting. Driving while texting is against the law in Minnesota. It’s also negligent behavior: the driver is not giving the task of driving a multi-ton 18-wheeler the level of focus required to live up to the duty of due care owed to motorists and passengers on the interstate.
While the driver looks at the phone, the semi drifts out of its lane and clips a car, causing it to spin into a ditch and flip over. The car’s driver survives the crash but suffers a broken leg and a back injury.
In addition to the truck driver’s negligence, the trucker’s employer could be held responsible. For example, if it turns out the trucking company failed to train the driver properly, or if it had known the driver had a very poor driving record, the company could be indirectly responsible for the victim’s truck accident injuries.
What accident victims should do
The employer in our example may not have directly caused the accident, but the employer helped create the conditions that made the accident possible.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.