Many motorists in Wisconsin are nervous when driving near semi-trucks. This sense of unease is well-founded. After all, these massive vehicles dwarf the average passenger vehicle, meaning that they can cause devastation in the event of a truck accident. These wrecks occur with far too much frequency, and they often leave victims with extensive damages in the form of medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Although these damages may be recoverable through a personal injury lawsuit, securing compensation isn’t such an easy task, even after a negligent trucker is found liable.
This is because many truckers don’t make enough income or possess enough assets to satisfy most of the judgments in these cases. So, while a truck accident victim may be able to win a personal injury lawsuit and be awarded a significant amount of compensation, that compensation ultimately may be unrecoverable in reality. This is why truck accident victims oftentimes consider whether a “vicarious liability” claim is right for them.
Through vicarious liability, an employer can be held responsible for the negligent actions of its employees. In the trucking context, then, a truck company and/or truck owner may be held liable for an accident caused by one if its truckers. The caveat is that a vicarious liability claim can only succeed if certain legal elements are proven, which includes that the trucker was on the clock at the time of the wreck and the trucker was performing job duties at the time. It must also be shown that the employer was benefiting from the actions of the employee at the time of the truck accident in question.
Those who are able to succeed on a vicarious liability claim may be able to reach “deeper pockets” that are able to pay for a victim’s damages. However, employers often claim that truckers should be held solely responsible because they were operating outside the scope of employment at the time of the accident.