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Is a commercial driver’s employer liable for truck accidents?

Technology has provided electronic devices that help us communicate any time from almost anywhere. These modern conveniences have been a boon for many businesses. But the ability to relay messages or talk instantaneously has a downside when employees engage in important activities like driving.

Attentiveness is a requirement for safe driving, no matter how skilled or experienced a Los Angeles driver is. According to the National Safety Council, no one really does two things simultaneously. The brain shifts gears every time a person moves back and forth between the tasks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration forbids interstate truck and bus drivers from texting or using handheld cellphones while driving. Plenty of statistical ammunition backs the government's decision to impose those rules. Twenty-eight percent of all motor vehicle accidents, about 1.6 million U.S. crashes every year, involve distracted driving.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver inattentiveness is a factor in four out of every five traffic accidents, with cellphone use topping the list of distractions. Electronic device distraction quadruples the chance of being in a crash for non-professional drivers and increases the risk 23 times for commercial truck drivers.

Truck companies are not immune from the actions of drivers. Employers, including companies that hire independent contractors, can be held accountable for truck accident injuries or deaths caused by driver negligence. Actions performed by drivers "in the scope of employment" are an employer's responsibility.

Trucking industry employers are expected to hire licensed, competent drivers, train employees to perform driving duties safely and monitor drivers to ensure employees are in compliance. Failure to enforce – not just dictate – safety policies can be equivalent to supervisory negligence.

Truck accident claims are valid when a plaintiff can show a defendant acted carelessly or recklessly. Defendants may include semi-truck drivers and behind-the-scenes parties, like trucking companies that oversee the duties and behaviors of workers.

Source: Kyrus Mobile, "Employer Liability for Distracted Driving Accidents" accessed Mar. 12, 201

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