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Liability in Auto Accidents Involving Large Trucks and Other Commercial Vehicles

by  on  Car Accidents & Motor Vehicle Collisions

If you have been seriously injured in an accident involving a large truck (such as an 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer) or other commercial vehicles, knowing where to turn for financial compensation is critical to ensuring that you will have the money you need now and in the future. While there are a variety of factors that can cause and contribute to commercial vehicle accidents, one of the most common factors is driver negligence.

Typically, when the driver of a large truck or other commercial vehicle is at fault in an accident, his or her employer will be liable for the victims’ injuries. This financial responsibility can be based upon either: (i) the employer’s direct negligence, or (ii) the principles of “vicarious liability.”

1. Direct Employer Negligence in Commercial Vehicle Accidents

Under Colorado law, companies that hire drivers have a legal responsibility to undertake appropriate measures to ensure that their employees will not present safety hazards to motorists and their passengers. At a bare minimum, this typically means:

  • Ensuring that their employees have valid drivers’ licenses;
  • Ensuring that their employees have adequate driving experience; and,
  • Reviewing prospective employees’ driving records for a history of tickets or accidents.

For large trucks and certain other types of company vehicles, drivers will need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) as well. If a CDL is required, the company must ensure that the driver has a valid CDL in addition to their ordinary driver’s license.

If an employer fails to conduct adequate screening of its drivers, it can be held directly liable for negligence in the event of an accident. One form of direct negligence is “negligent entrustment,” which essentially means that the company should have known better than to hand over the keys to the driver in question. However, employers can be held directly liable under other legal theories as well (both driver and non-driver-related), and it is important to assess all potential claims in order to ensure that you do not overlook any opportunities to collect just compensation.

2. Vicarious Liability for Employed Drivers’ Mistakes

The other primary way that drivers’ employers can be held liable for truck accidents and other commercial vehicle collisions is under the law of vicarious liability. In most cases, employers can be held legally responsible for their employees’ negligence regardless of whether they are directly liable for negligent entrustment. In order to prove an employer’s vicarious liability, it is first necessary to prove that the driver was at fault in the accident, and this requires a prompt and thorough investigation.

Regardless of the legal theory that supports your claim for compensation, as an accident victim, you are entitled to seek just compensation for all of your injury-related losses. To learn more, you can read: How Do I Know if the Insurance Company is Offering a Fair Settlement?

Speak With a Denver Truck Accident Lawyer at Levine Law

If you have been seriously injured in an accident involving a large truck or other commercial vehicles, the attorneys at Levine Law can help you collect just compensation. To discuss your legal rights in a free and confidential consultation, please call  303-333-8000 or request an appointment online today.