I frequently run into trucking companies that attempt to call their drivers “independent contractors” in an attempt to avoid liability for a truck accident caused by their truck driver. The trucking company usually has the truck driver sign an agreement stating that the truck driver is an independent contractor. However, a close analysis of the employment agreement and the day to day relationship between the trucking company and the truck driver usually establishes that the truck driver is actually an employee and not an independent contractor. The test for whether or not a worker is an employee of an employer resulting in the employer’s legal responsibility for the actions of the employee pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior is whether the employer had the right to control the details of the work of the employee. The employer doesn’t have to actually control the details of the employee’s work. Respondeat superior liability will be established if the employer had the actual right to control the details of the work even though the employer chose not to exercise that right.
The typical independent contractor agreement used by a trucking company states that the driver is an independent contractor but then goes on to give the employer the right to control the details of the work such as:
1. Requiring the driver to accept certain loads;
2. Designating the manner in which the driver loads, unloads, and secures his load;
3. Prohibiting a driver from having passengers in his truck;
4. Requiring the driver to use designated fuel suppliers;
5. Requiring a driver to follow a designated communication schedule or designated communication protocol;
6. Requiring the driver to have a company GPS unit installed in his truck so that the company can monitor the driver’s progress;
7. Requiring the driver to adhere to a delivery schedule;
8. Requiring the driver to follow designated delivery routes; and,
9. Prohibiting the driver from hauling loads for other carriers.
After a truck accident trucking companies quickly attempt to use their independent contractor agreements to distance themselves from the driver and his negligent actions. A thorough investigation of the trucking company’s right to control the day to day activities of their driver in these situations usually results in the trucking company being found to be the employer of the driver and being responsible for the truck driver’s actions.
For more information contact a Tyler Truck Accident Lawyer today.