Imagine you are injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer carrying a heavy load for a major trucking company. Miraculously, you are not killed when the driver of the 18 wheeler plows into your car while changing lanes on the interstate. Like they often are, the driver appears tired when a police officer responds to the scene. He tells the police officer he did not even see you because he forgot to check his blind spot before merging into your lane. The police officer cites the truck driver as being at fault for the accident and your car is a total loss and has to be towed. Meanwhile, a family member comes to pick you up but you stop at the emergency room on the way home to ensure that you do not have any hidden injuries. Before you leave, you wisely get the driver’s own insurance information as well as the information regarding who the trucking company he was carrying the load for.
Despite the fact he was hauling a load for a large trucking company at the time of the accident, when you call to report a claim to the trucking company’s insurer, the claims adjuster “regrets to inform you” that because the driver was an independent contractor, it is refusing to accept any liability for the driver’s actions. It is insisting that, even though he was hauling a load for them, the driver was an independent contractor and neither the trucking company nor its insurer is responsible for his actions. Nevertheless, just because the trucking company or its insurer is claiming that the driver was an independent contractor or that it is not responsible for the trucker's actions does not mean this is the end of the story. Indeed, trucking accidents can be particularly complicated personal injury claims because there often are multiple parties that may be at fault, all of whom want to point the finger at someone else. At Kalfus & Nachman, our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys are able to cut through the finger pointing and pursue the parties responsible for your injuries and damages in connection with a trucking accident.
Playing Games to Avoid Liability in Trucking Cases in Virginia
Many companies of all kinds in all different industries and their insurers play games like that being played by the trucking company and its insurer in this scenario in order to avoid all different types of liabilities. When it comes to determining liability for an incident, insurers play a form of musical chairs in which no one wants to take responsibility. The way that plays out in this particular scenario is by the trucking company claiming that the driver was an independent contractor and that, even though he was hauling a trailer with the trucking company’s logo on the side, the trucking company is not responsible for the driver’s negligence in merging into your car and causing you both property damage and personal injuries.
Virginia Law Regarding Trucking Company Liability for Their Drivers’ Actions
Typically, the trucking company may be held liable for trucking accidents if it can be demonstrated that the driver was functioning within their scope of employment at the time of the event regardless of whether the trucking company wants to call the driver an independent contractor or an employee. Another way to get the trucking company on the hook for a trucking accident is to prove that the trucking company failed to maintain the truck itself, that the trucking company was encouraging the driver to work longer hours than legally mandated, to name a few.
Under Virginia law, a judge will look at a variety of factors to determine whether the driver was functioning as an employee or an independent contractor at the time of an accident. These include things such as the extent and amount of control over the truck driver the trucking company exercised, how the truck driver was paid, the length of the relationship between the truck driver and the trucking company, who owned the truck that hit you, etc. Ultimately, the judge may conclude that, regardless of what the trucking company calls the driver, he was functioning as a trucking company employee at the time of an accident and the trucking company can be held liable for that accident. If the judge concludes the driver was an employee of the trucking company rather than an independent contractor, then the trucking company can be held liable for the driver’s negligence in injuring you.
Contact the Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman
At Kalfus & Nachman, our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys have recovered millions in compensation for our clients who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, including in incidents involving injuries suffered in an accident with a tractor-trailer. Our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys know how to successfully end any games that a trucking company may play in order to try and avoid liability in an incident where the trucking company may be at fault for a driver’s actions. Therefore, if you live in the Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach or Roanoke, Virginia, areas and have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in a trucking accident or in any other scenario, then please contact Kalfus & Nachman PC by phone today at (855) 880-8163 or through the form on this page to schedule a free consultation regarding your particular situation.