Delivery vehicleThis is the next post in our series on handling car accident cases in Rochester, Minnesota. Our last article discussed the potential need for expert witnesses in a car wreck case to establish facts related to both liability and damages. In this article, we will discuss the determination of liability in cases involving commercial vehicles, an important topic because the determination of liability in such matters can be complicated. Contact our office to speak with a personal injury attorney if you or a loved one have been injured in an accident.

We have previously discussed accidents involving commercial semis. There are many types of commercial vehicles other than semis, including, for example, vehicles delivering for a local restaurant, the van belonging to a local carpet cleaning company, or any other vehicle that is being driven in the course of a company’s business. Companies are liable for the acts of their employees. They are responsible for an employee’s negligent driving when the employee is operating a vehicle in the course of his or her job duties, which is why a company can be successfully sued for an accident caused by a negligent employee-driver.

A company’s liability can extend even further when a car accident * involves one of its vehicles. When a company considers hiring someone to do any job, it is required to take steps to ensure the potential employee will not pose a danger to the public. One of the steps includes checking the past driving record of an individual who will be operating a company vehicle. Companies are also required to adequately train and supervise their employees. That training must include informing the company’s driver of policies banning distracting behavior (such as texting) during the operation of a company vehicle. When the driver of a commercial vehicle causes an accident, the company may be liable for negligent hiring and supervision if it fails in its responsibilities in hiring, training, and supervision.

Additional third parties may be liable in accidents involving commercial vehicles. As an example, Company “A” hires a runner service to deliver goods to a customer while aware of the fact that the runner service has a history of driving accidents and has been successfully sued a number of times. If the runner service’s driver causes an accident while making a delivery for Company A, it is possible the victim can sue not only the delivery driver and the runner service, but also Company A, given that A may have knowingly contributed to a dangerous situation by its knowing employment of a negligent runner service. The extent to which third parties are liable in a given case is always fact-specific.

Contact our Rochester office to speak with a car accident lawyer if you or a loved one have been harmed in a commercial vehicle accident. Our attorneys have recovered more than $125 million on behalf of victims.

We also serve the following southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.

*A note about language:

Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”