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August 22nd, 2013

Are truck companies liable for a truck driver’s negligence?

In general, when truck drivers are acting in the course and scope of their employment, their employers will be held liable for truck accidents. This is known as the respondeat superior doctrine, which literally means “let the master answer.” This doctrine applies to the employee’s acts of negligence. Therefore, in the vast majority of truck accident cases, the employers, or truck companies, will be liable to truck accident victims.

However, in some cases, there may be an issue as to whether the truck driver was acting in the course and scope of the employment. Under tort law, employers might not be liable when an employee engages in a frolic or detour. In general, employers are not liable for their employees’ departures from their employment, or more specifically, acts undertaken purely for the benefit of the employee, not the employer. For instance, a truck driver who decides to rob a truck stop would be acting outside the scope of the employment and therefore the employer would not be held liable for the employee’s actions.

However, an employer would probably be liable for the actions of a truck driver who takes a detour, which is short in scope and time. For example, a truck company/employer may be liable for a truck accident which occurs when the employee-driver takes a detour to buy a personal item while on a delivery route.

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