A semi-truck is a semi-truck, no matter who owns the rig or what is inside the trailer. It is a large commercial vehicle capable of causing significant damage in a crash. But the same cannot be said of drivers — not all truck drivers are regarded equally in the eyes of the law. Please keep reading as our semi-truck accident lawyer explains.
Knowing the difference between truckers who are owner-operators and those who are employees of a trucking company is not a mere academic exercise.
There were over 100,000 trucking crashes resulting in injuries in 2020 alone, according to the National Safety Council. In cases of truck accident lawsuits, knowing the difference between the two types of drivers means knowing against whom to bring suit.
Owner-Operators Versus Employees
The difference between owner-operator truck drivers and employees of trucking companies is the same as the difference between independent contractors and employees. If a person is working on a job but is an independent contractor, and that person causes you an injury, you are usually limited to suing just the contractor.
If, conversely, the worker is an employee, and you were injured by the employee while they were working, then your lawsuit will seek compensation from the employee as well as their employer. Because the employer has greater control over the actions of an employee, the employer is legally responsible for the wrongful acts of their employees.
In the trucking world, owner-operators are akin to independent contractors, especially when they are not actively performing a job. They own their tractors and are responsible for the maintenance of their vehicles. An owner-operator can decide whether to contract with a company to haul a load or to reject any such contract.
Therefore, if you are hit by an owner-operator who is not hauling a load, the most likely party you would sue for compensation would be the owner-operator.
Suing an Owner-Operator and a Trucking Company After a Wreck
There may be situations when your semi-truck accident lawyer can bring suit against both an owner-operator and a trucking company. These circumstances arise when you are injured in a wreck while an owner-operator is hauling a load for a trucking company. In this case, the owner-operator may be more akin to an employee.
Failing to have your semi-truck accident lawyer explore a trucking company’s liability in every case deprives you of a potential source of compensation. When an independent contractor has agreed to perform a hauling job for a company, some courts may consider them to be an employee of the company with which they have contracted.
Seek Professional Legal Help with a Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer
Trucking accident lawsuits can be notoriously time-consuming and complex. You have not only state laws to consider but also federal laws and regulations. On top of this, to determine liability and whom to sue for your injuries you must consider the legal status of the truck driver.
Lowcountry Law, LLC and our experienced South Carolina semi-truck accident lawyer are able to take the guesswork out of your situation. We will do the investigation, research, and advocacy necessary to help you achieve the most favorable outcome.
Call our offices today to request your free truck accident case consultation.