Truck Accidents: Is the Shipper Liable for the Crash?

The Chicago and Cicero Truck Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe want all accident attorneys and truck accident victims to know that truck Accidents may be the result of negligent selection and hiring of ill-suited or trained motor carriers or drivers by the defendant company. Often a defendant company will deny responsibility for a motor vehicle crash because they hired an independent contractor to perform the work. The company will state that the motor carrier or driver is not its agent and therefore solely responsible for personal injuries and property damage suffered as a result of the truck crash. Companies needing to transport items will often hire the cheapest-priced carrier without regard for safety. In the event of a catastrophic crash, these shippers claim ignorance and have been found free of liability for any negligence on the part of the motor carrier or driver because they were hired as  independent contractors. Therefore,  vicarious liability does not extend to the company hiring the independent contractor.

Recent case law indicates that courts are recognizing that the hiring companies may have liability for serious injuries caused by the negligent selection of a trucking company. The Fifth District Court of Appeal in Florida (Davies v. Commercial Metals Company, 46 So. 3d 71{Fla. 5th DCA 2010}) specifically recognized a cause of action for negligent selection of a trucking company who was hired as an independent contractor. Plaintiff was seriously injured after a collision with a tractor-trailer hired by the scrap metal company. The only claim against the scrap metal company was for negligent hiring and retention. While plaintiff lost the claim on a factual basis, the court did recognize the cause of action as viable by referencing section 411 of the Restatement of Torts, which in part provides:

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 

(a) to do work which will involve a risk of physical harm unless it is skillfully and carefully done

The court explained that “to state a claim for negligent selection of an independent contractor, a plaintiff must generally plead that (1) the contractor was incompetent or unfit to perform the work; (2) the employer knew or should have known of the particular incompetence or unfitness and (3) the incompetence or unfitness was the proximate cause of plaintiff’s injury.”

Plaintiff’s attorneys representing victims of truck accidents need be aware that the safety and performance of a motor carrier and driver is something that the shipper needs to be aware. Investigation should start early into truck crash claims and the safety performance and hiring practices of the motor carrier.

Chicago and South Chicago are major trucking arteries and as experienced personal injury attorneys in the metropolitan area, Grazian and Volpe has seen hundreds of avoidable serious personal injuries caused by driver, carrier or shipper negligence. Regard to regulation and hiring are crucial components of road safety. The Cicero and Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe ask you to follow our blogs or John Grazian on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning for more information on the protection and advocacy for the injured victims of trucking accidents.

Grazian & Volpe, Part of the Lloyd Miller Law Group