Often, a commercial driver is not the only party to blame for an 18-wheeler wreck. In some cases, trucking companies ignore their better instincts and hire unqualified drivers, or they fail to supervise those drivers whom they hire. An employer profits from the work done by the employee, and it should be responsible for damages caused by the employee while working. If you believe you were injured in a truck accident due to negligent supervision, Atlanta attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert may be able to help you seek damages.Bringing a Negligence Claim against a Trucking Company
Under the doctrine of respondeat superior or vicarious liability, an employer may be held indirectly liable for an employee's negligence on the job. This means that you can hold it responsible for the employee's share of responsibility for an accident, irrespective of whether it was negligent or not. However, you can also potentially hold an employer directly liable for its own negligence under a theory of negligent supervision.
In Georgia, an employer may be directly liable for an employee's negligence if it knew or should have known that the employee was not properly performing his or her duties. The "should have known" standard means that the company failed to provide the appropriate oversight that would have provided it with information that its employee was not safely performing his or her job.
For example, negligent supervision might apply if a supervisor noticed that a driver was not keeping accurate records of maintenance or hours of service—which he or she is required to keep under law— and failed to make sure that the employee started keeping these accurate records, or failed to terminate him or her for refusing to comply. Negligent supervision might also apply if an employee had a reputation for not driving appropriately, and an employer failed to investigate or did investigate and decided to keep the driver on the pay roll anyway. A decision to keep an unsafe driver as an employee could be actionable as negligent retention.
If you are able to prove negligent supervision, you may be able to recover a full range of compensatory damages from the trucking company. This may be crucial because most trucking companies carry significantly more insurance coverage and have more assets than an individual driver. Damages you may be able to recover often include medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage, household services, and pain and suffering.
If your negligent supervision case involves the drunk driving of a truck, you may also be able to recover punitive damages. These are damages awarded not to compensate but to punish a wrongdoer for egregious conduct and deter future similar conduct.Enlist an Experienced Motor Vehicle Collision Attorney in Atlanta
People in Atlanta or the surrounding communities can consult motor vehicle collision lawyer Stephen M. Ozcomert to assert their rights after a truck accident. Not all personal injury attorneys have experience handling 18-wheeler wreck cases. It is important to find a lawyer who understands the many detailed regulations governing truck drivers and their employers, and who understands what technical evidence will show that rules were broken or supervision was insufficient. Call us at (404) 370-1000 or contact us via our online form to set up a free consultation. We also assist injured individuals in Decatur as well as other areas of DeKalb and Fulton Counties.