A 22-year-old semi-truck driver from Washington State was charged with reckless homicide last week after he was involved in a fatal accident. According to one local news report, the man was driving his semi-truck on Interstate 64 in Kentucky when he allegedly neglected to pay attention to the flow of traffic in front of him. He proceeded to slam into the car in front of him, which subsequently exploded into flames because of the extreme force of the accident.
Unfortunately the elderly driver of that vehicle was killed after the impact. The car was so severely destroyed that the majority of it melted. Several other vehicles were involved in the accident as a result of the chain reaction. Three of the individuals involved in the accident were transported to the hospital by emergency personnel.
The highway was shut down for several hours but reopened later that night. The driver was arrested and is being held in a detention center. He has been charged with reckless homicide, wanton endangerment, and a communication-device violation.
General Liability in Semi-Trucking Accidents in New Mexico
The above case was particularly tragic because it seems that if the semi-truck driver was paying attention a fatality could have been avoided. All accidents have the potential to be devastating, but the severity of trucking accidents is often significantly more serious due to the potential they have to cause extensive damage and destruction.
In this case, the driver has been criminally charged. Although a criminal charge and conviction make the likelihood of success on a civil personal injury suit more possible, it is not a prerequisite to bringing a personal injury claim. In criminal cases, often only the driver will be charged. However, in a civil case the victim may consider bringing a suit against the trucker’s employer as well.
Vicarious Liability in Trucking Accidents in New Mexico
“Respondeat superior” is a vicarious liability theory that makes an employer liable for certain torts of their employees. It can be difficult to determine whether respondeat superior applies because often in trucking situations the employer will hire the driver as an “independent contractor” to avoid liability. When respondeat superior is applied to a case, an employer may be responsible if their employee was acting within the scope of their employment when the tort occurred. In very limited situations, an employer may be held liable even if the individual was working outside the scope of employment. However, in those situations a further analysis of whether the employee was trying to further the employer’s interest at the time of the accident must be completed to determine if the doctrine applies.
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured in a Trucking Accident?
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed because of the negligence of a truck driver, you may consider bringing a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit against the culpable parties. Depending on the circumstances of your case, these parties may include the driver and their employer. It is important to consult an attorney so that your case is properly prepared and to ensure that all deadlines are followed. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries. Contact the Fine Law Firm at 505-889-FINE to schedule a free initial consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Texas Semi-Truck Accident Results in Fatality, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, April 1, 2015.
Court of Appeals in California Reverses Lower Court Decision on Trucking Accident, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2015.