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Who is Liable When an 18-Wheeler Causes an Accident in Mississippi?

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When a court in Mississippi determines that an 18-wheeler is legally at fault for causing a car accident who can be held legally liable? The truck driver? The company that owns and operates the truck? According to Mississippi’s vicarious liability laws, both the truck driver and the company that he or she was working for at the time of the accident may potentially be held liable.

Vicarious Liability

Under the legal doctrine of “vicarious liability”, liability for an injury can be assigned to a person (or to a company) who did not himself cause the injury but who has a particular legal relationship to the person whose negligent act caused the harm. In other words, a negligent act committed by one person can be legally imputed onto someone else if a special relationship exists between the two parties. Qualifying relationships often include a parent and their child, an employer and their employee, or the owner of a vehicle and their driver.

Therefore, under the doctrine of vicarious liability, a company who hires a driver to operate its 18-wheeler can generally be held legally liable for an accident that their driver negligently causes. This rule greatly benefits individuals who are injured in accidents caused by 18-wheelers as it enables them to file a personal injury lawsuit against both the driver and the trucking company. This is especially important when a plaintiff is severely injured and the truck driver who caused their injuries does not possess the financial resources necessary to pay for the damage that was caused.

Proving an 18-Wheeler Accident Claim

In order to hold a driver liable in an 18-wheeler accident personal injury lawsuit, the injured party who is suing (i.e. the plaintiff) must be able to prove the following elements in order to win their case:

  1. That the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. In 18-wheeler accident cases this duty generally involves exercising a reasonable degree of care while operating the semi-truck.
  2. That the defendant breached this duty of care. This element is often satisfied by showing that the driver acted recklessly or negligently in some way.
  3. That the plaintiff’s injuries were directly caused by the defendant breaching his or her duty of care.
  4. That the plaintiff’s injuries are compensable.

If a court finds that the requisite elements listed above have been met then the driver can be held personally liable, but what has to be shown in order to hold the driver’s employer liable? Generally speaking, the employer can also be held liable via the doctrine of vicarious liability if:

  • The relationship between the primary wrongdoer (in this case the negligent driver who caused the accident) and the person alleged to be liable (in this case the trucking company) is capable of giving rise to vicarious liability, and
  • The connection between the wrongful act and the employment is sufficiently close so that it is fair to hold the employer vicariously liable.

Need Legal Advice?

If you or a loved one has been injured by an 18-wheeler in Mississippi and would like to discuss your legal options contact Derek L. Hall, PLLC today. Our experienced personal injury attorneys would be happy to meet with your during a free no obligation consultation at our Jackson office.

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