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Court of Appeals in California Reverses Lower Court Decision on Trucking Accident

Posted in Firm News

The Court of Appeals in California reversed a lower court’s decision in Vargas v. FMI, where the driver sued the trucking company and claimed that it was vicariously liable for the injuries he incurred when the truck was involved in an accident.

The Facts of the Case
The company in question hires individuals to transport goods throughout the United States. In this particular case, the company hired two individuals to transport some goods from California to New Jersey. During the cross-country trek, one of the individuals was driving while the other was resting in the sleeper berth. At some point, the driver lost control of the truck, and it ended up hitting a center divider. This accident caused the driver who was resting to suffer some serious injuries.

The injured driver brought a suit against the trucking company, claiming that it was liable for his injuries because of the theory of vicarious liability. The lower court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case, stating that the individual drivers were considered “independent contractors,” and therefore the company was not liable. However, the Court of Appeals found that the defendant did not establish that it fell into the category of parties that are protected from vicarious liability claims.

Vicarious Liability in New Mexico

Many times when an individual is hurt because of the negligence of another, they bring a claim just against that particular individual. However, in certain situations the victim may be able to bring a claim against multiple parties. This is often done when there is a special legal relationship between the person that caused the injury and the third-party entity.

One of the most common examples of vicarious liability in a truck accident case is the relationship between an employer and an employee. In cases, such as the one above, an employer may be legally responsible for its employee if he or she gets into a car accident and an injury results. This is usually limited to when the employee is acting within the scope of their employment, such as if a truck driver is transporting goods and during the ride they get into a car accident and injure a pedestrian. However, if the driver was driving the truck and stopped at a rest stop and then proceeded to get into a fight with an individual and cause serious bodily injury, the company may not likely be held responsible.

Have You Been Injured in a Trucking Accident in New Mexico?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident in New Mexico, you may consider bringing a negligence suit against the culpable party or their employer. These types of negligence cases can often be complex because of the number of parties involved. Additionally, a series of legal questions must be answered to determine who is in fact liable. If you have been injured, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries. This may include payments for your past medical bills, future medical expenses, and for any pain and suffering related to the accident. Contact the Fine Law Firm at 505-889-FINE to schedule a free initial consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Truck Slams into Bus in Albuquerque, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, January 20, 2015.

Semi Truck Driver Charged with Felony after Rear Ending School Bus, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, November 9, 2014.