You suffered injuries in an accident with a commercial vehicle. The crash was not your fault. Now you want to know: who owes you money damages for your injuries and losses, the driver of the commercial vehicle, or the company that owns it?
Well, it depends. The answer could be one, the other, both, or neither, depending on a variety of factors, including the circumstances of the crash and the relationship between the driver and the company that owns the vehicle. Here is what we mean:
- The driver alone. A driver who operates a commercial vehicle as an independent contractor may have sole legal responsibility for the crash and for paying damages to you. Likewise, the driver alone might have liability to you if the crash happened during hours when the driver was not working for the company that owned the vehicle.
- The company alone. In New York, as a general proposition, employers have legal responsibility for the actions of their employees within the normal course of their jobs. So, if the driver worked for the company that owns the vehicle, and crash happened during the driver's work hours, then the company might have to answer for the harm the crash caused you. Similarly, the company could have sole liability to you if its own actions caused the accident, such as when a company fails to maintain an vehicle in safe working order.
- Both of them. A combination of the factors above could also have caused the accident – say, for example, if the driver was an independent contractor but the vehicle he drove had not been serviced by its owner. In that case and similar situations where a lawyer can trace "fault" for the accident to multiple sources, both of them could owe you damages.
- Neither of them. In some rare instances, it is possible that neither the driver nor the company would have liability to you. Instead, a "third party" could bear the blame, such as in the case of a chain-reaction accident started by someone else, or if an unreasonably dangerous defect in one of the vehicles involved caused a mechanical failure that led to a crash. In those cases, the "other" party might have liability to you.
Your next steps
Every commercial vehicle accident has its own unique circumstances. To figure out who might owe you damages for the injuries you suffered in a crash with a commercial vehicle, contact an experienced motor vehicle accident injury lawyer today.