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Liability for injuries caused by an unqualified truck driver

Trucking accidents happen every day across our nation. Many times, there are catastrophic injuries, or even fatalities as a result. During those stressful times, the qualifications of a truck driver are likely not at the forefront of the minds of a devastated family. However, there are instances where a commercial vehicle is being operated by an individual without a proper CDL license or training.

So, who is responsible for an accident caused by an unqualified truck driver? A legal doctrine known as respondeat superior answers this question.

First, it must be determined whether the truck driver was operating individually, as an independent contractor, or whether he or she was employed by a trucking company. If operating a truck as an owner/operator, then the individual’s liability can be determined by a balancing test, which will decide how much control a company exercised over a contractor in the normal scope of business. This determination deems liability in this instance.

However, if operating as an employee of a company, respondeat superior can be invoked. This doctrine holds both the employee and the employer liable. Though the standards may differ from state to state, two determining tests are used across the board. The first is a benefits test, which determines whether an employee was on-the-clock and acting for the benefit of the employer at the time of the accident. The second is a characteristics test, used to determine if the employee’s actions at the time of the accident were a common characteristic of his or her job as a company employee. A state may choose to use one, or both tests in determining damages owed to a plaintiff.

The state of Florida requires the following to obtain a commercial driver’s license: (1) General Florida driver’s license requirements must be met, (2) CDL application must be completed, (3) Permit and endorsement fees paid, (4) CDL knowledge exam passed, (5) Vision screening test must be passed, and (6) Road test must be passed.

Injuries sustained from the negligence of a truck driver deserve adequate compensation. Consulting with an experienced trucking accident attorney can help determine the amounts that you could be awarded by a court of law. He or she can also assist you in building a case that will, beyond reasonable doubt, prove fault and liability.