Truck accident cases are often about insurance coverage. As I have written before, trucking companies are getting advice from lawyers to set us as many different fraudulent hoops as they possible to shield themselves from liability.
One mechanism to avoid responsibility many companies use (sometimes innocently) is hiring trucking companies that are independent contractors. So when the there is a truck accident suit where the claim exceeds the independent contractor’s insurance coverage, the company tries to hide behind the “that’s my independent contractor” shield (although, sometimes, that shield is artificial and the independent contractor is really an employee).
As a result, companies trying to get their products from point-to-point often pick trucking companies that could provide the lowest price. Often, it costs money for trucking companies to do the safe thing – namely, hiring good truck drivers without a history of drug and alcohol abuse or a history of car or truck accidents. Bad truck drivers are available on the cheap.
Even for good companies, when risk is removed from the calculus, you focus on doing your job well by cutting costs. A truck accident that kills a child because more attenuated. From a public safety standpoint, this puts all of us at risk.
Truck accident lawyers have an opportunity to be heroes – not that anyone will see it that way, but still – and hold the contracting company’s feet to the fire. How? The Second Restatement of Torts § 411 provides that “an employer is subject to liability for physical harm to third persons caused by his failure to exercise reasonable care to employ a competent and careful contractor . . . to perform work which will involve a risk of physical harm unless it is skillfully and carefully done.”
What does that mean? Let’s say A, a builder, employs B, a teamster, to haul material through the streets from a nearby railway station to the place where A is building a house. A knows that B’s trucks are old and in poor condition and that B habitually employs inexperienced and inattentive drivers. C is run over by a truck carrying A’s material and driven by one of B’s employees. A is subject to liability to C if the accident is due either to the poor condition of the truck or the inexperience or inattention of the driver.
Did you like that example? I stole it from comment Comment D, Illustration #5 from §411. It is a great example of negligent hiring that plaintiffs’ truck accident attorneys need to focus on in truck accident cases.
See RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS § 411 (1965). That Rule 411 is intended to cover the operation of a commercial vehicle is amply demonstrated by the official illustration to this rule, which provides as follows: “A, a builder, employs B, a teamster, to haul material through the streets from a nearby railway station to the place where A is building a house. A knows that B’s trucks are old and in bad condition and that B habitually employs inexperienced and inattentive drivers. C is run over by a truck carrying A’s material and driven by one of B’s employees. A is subject to liability to C if the accident is due either to the bad condition of the truck or the inexperience or inattention of the driver.” See RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS §411 cmt. d, illus. 5 (1965). In the present case, Defendant knew or should have known that AKJ habitually employed incompetent and unsafe drivers, and did so, and that the incompetence of Arciszewski, the driver hired by AKJ to transport the subject load, caused the subject collision and Plaintiff’s resulting injuries.