Because businesses that employ truckers, bus drivers, and other similar kinds of commercial drivers will require them to be on the roads for hours at a time, it is common for many severe accidents to involve a commercial driver. The law contains a number of important doctrines that allow both the driver and their employer to be held responsible for the problems they cause after an accident.
A deadly crash involving semi trucks and multiple cars occurred on Interstate 55 in Wilmington Illinois just south of Chicago.
Pileup occurs on I-55 near construction site
Police believe that a large semi truck did not slow down in time as it came towards a construction zone where other cars were already stopped. The semi went into the back of a pickup truck and caused a reaction that affected multiple other cars. Five vehicles in total were damaged as a result of this initial impact. A fire also started in the trailer of one of the trucks and spread through the area. Local fire rescue crews arrived to extinguish the blaze.
After the incident, an investigation revealed that at least one person had died and at least one other individual had been seriously injured as a result of the accident. The deceased man was driving one of the semi trucks and the injured man was the driver of a pickup truck near the construction site. The condition of the other drivers and cars involved in the accident was unknown, but the property damage caused by the collisions and fire was severe.
Why is the employer just as responsible as the driver?
Liability for accidents that involve drivers who employed to travel in large trucks to transport goods are a bit different than other car crashes because the company who employs the driver will generally be held responsible. In tort law there is a doctrine called respondeat superior which means that the business that employs an individual is vicariously liable if they become the target of a lawsuit for something that occurred while they were working. The law requires that businesses who profit from a certain line of work must also be held accountable when their routine activities cause problems as well.
As a strategic matter, many personal injury lawyers will focus their attention of the claim against the employer or business rather than the individual employee. This is because a business usually has a greater ability to pay out the damages caused by one of their employees. They may also have some kind of business policy or umbrella insurance that is capable of paying out large amounts in these kinds of situations.
How does a lawsuit against the employer work?
In a situation like the incident above, civil cases will begin by attaching any party that might have some level of fault in the accident. This can include individual drivers or workers in the area, as well as the companies that employ the commercial drivers or construction workers. The plaintiff’s attorney can file an initial complaint in the local courts that names everyone responsible, and they will all be served with a copy of the lawsuit. As information is exchanged and the people or entities who are at fault become clear, some of the additional parties may be dropped from the lawsuit. The specific elements of a negligence claim that need to be proven against the defendant do not change whether it is an individual or a business. These cases are still about proving that a lack of reasonable care led to a situation where injuries and property damage occurred.
Because there was a death in this incident, a special kind of lawsuit can be brought by the family of the truck driver against his employer or anyone else who is responsible to cover things like lost future wages and funeral expenses.