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Holding truck companies liable for the actions of drivers

Clients often come to us here at Goldberg Sager & Associates facing inordinate expenses after having been involved in truck accidents in Brooklyn. You see just how massive these vehicles are when you drive next to them on the road; imagine the damage one can cause should it collide with your vehicle. The subsequent medical and repair costs you could be facing may leave you needing to seek compensation from those who are liable. The question then becomes whether that is limited to the trucker who hit you. 

If said trucker is an independent operator that contracts with carriers, then the answer is yes. Yet if he or she is an employee of a trucking company, the legal principle of respondeat superior may apply. This doctrine states that employers can be held liable for the actions of their employees if those actions were done within the scope of employment. Who then defines how far the scope of employment extends? 

The Court of Appeals for the state of New York established this standard in the case of Riviello v. Waldron. It cited a previous ruling in stating that the test for acting on behalf of an employer is "whether the act was done while the servant was doing his master's work, no matter how irregularly, or with what disregard of instructions." In the case of you being struck by a semi-truck, if the trucker was in the course of completing a route (at the request of his or her employer), then respondeat superior may apply. If he or she was off-duty when the accident occurred, then he or she may be the only one that is liable. 

More information on dealing with the aftermath of truck accidents can be found here on our site. 

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