The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that there were 476,000 crashes involving buses and large trucks in 2014. If you have been hurt in a truck accident, you may want to seek justice for the devastating aftermath. However, before you can take legal action, you must understand the circumstances surrounding your crash. For example, who you can pursue in court may depend on whether the truck driver is labeled as an employee or an independent contractor.
The skilled Houston truck accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. realize how difficult these situations can be. They will work tirelessly to help you gain compensation for your injuries. To find out more about your personal injury claim, call (281) 283-8500 today.
Employees and Contracted Drivers
If you are considering filing a lawsuit for your truck accident injuries, you must determine the classification of the truck driver’s employment. When a truck driver is an employee of a trucking company, they receive medical benefits, have taxes taken out of their paycheck, and rely on the trucking company for certain costs, such as gas and repairs. Employees also have the details of their employment, such as schedules and routes, determined by their trucking company.
Independent contractors, on the other hand, have full control of how work is accomplished. This is the defining aspect of working as an independent contractor. These individuals might set their own schedules, pay for their own expenses, and gain compensation per route as opposed to receiving a salary. However, the result of work, such as a shipment’s destination, is determined by the trucking company. Many contractors are owner-operators, meaning they own or lease their own truck.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you may have the option to sue either the truck driver or the company the driver works for. However, this is only the case if the driver is a full-fledged employee. Under the theory of “respondeat superior,” an employer can be held liable for any employee mistakes that lead to a collision, but only if the actions were unintentional and committed as part of regular work tasks. However, since independent contractors are responsible for determining how work is completed, only they can be held accountable for the devastation of a crash.
Insurance Requirements for Truck Drivers
If your car was hit by a truck driver who is an independent contractor, do not lose hope. Thanks to federal and state commercial insurance requirements, you can collect compensation from the driver’s private insurance. All truck drivers must have current liability coverage, or insurance that covers another person’s bodily injury and property damage. According to the FMCSA, the minimum liability insurance requirements for interstate truck drivers include, but are not limited to:
- $750,000 of liability coverage for trucks that are carrying typical, non-hazardous items
- $1,000,000 of liability coverage for trucks that are carrying oil or fuel
- $5,000,000 of liability coverage for trucks that are carrying hazardous materials
- $5,000,000 of liability coverage for trucks that are carrying poisonous or explosive items
Trucks traveling only within Texas and carrying household goods must have at least $300,000 of liability insurance. Trucks carrying general freight within Texas’ borders must have at least $500,000 of liability coverage.
Moving on From Your Accident
If the truck driver who caused you accident is an independent contractor, suing them may be your only option for collecting personal injury compensation. However, the Houston truck accident attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. may be able to prove that the driver meets employee requirements. This would enable you to seek financial losses from the trucking company as well. In either case, you should be able to make a claim against trucking liability coverage to cover your losses.
If you have questions about your case, or if you are ready to take action, call (281) 283-8500 now.