If the defendant of a large truck accident is the truck driver, then the driver’s employer may be liable for the actions of their employee driver and liable for the company’s own negligence as well. Under theories of vicarious liability, if the defendant truck driver was hauling cargo per their employment-related duties and were not “acting outside the scope of employment”, then the employer is liable for any negligence their employee committed that contributed to the accident.
The trucking company can also be liable under a theory of negligent entrustment if they knew or had reason to know that their employed driver was an “incompetent” driver and was likely to act in such a way that would probably cause an accident and injury or death. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations requires trucking companies to inquire as to the driving records and employment history of drivers they employ. Consequently, the trucking company can be held responsible for damage arising from a large truck accident if they knew or had reason to know that the driver was likely to cause damage at the time of hiring, and the driver was hired anyway. Similarly, the trucking company can be responsible for damages a driver causes if they retain the driver despite acts of negligence or recklessness while the driver is employed by the trucking company, and the company continues to put the truck driver back on the road.