One of the first questions an individual who has been injured in a tractor-trailer truck accident may have is whether the trucking company/employer is liable for the accident. In most truck accident cases in Delaware, the answer is yes.
Delaware Truck Accident Law – Employer Liability for an Employee’s Negligence
Under Delaware law, an employer can be held liable for the acts of an employee who is acting in the course and scope of the employment. This is known as the doctrine of agency, and it will apply in Delaware truck accident cases/lawsuits. The legal term is “respondeat superior,” which literally means, “let the master answer.” Therefore, in Delaware, truck companies can be held liable for the negligent acts of a truck driver such as a tractor-trailer driver or a semi-truck driver.
For example, a truck is driving through Wilmington to make a delivery. As it is backing up, it strikes a pedestrian who is lawfully within a crosswalk. Here, the pedestrian would be able to make a claim against the trucking company because the truck driver was acting on behalf of the employer, making a delivery.
However, there may be situations in which a truck driver was acting outside the scope of employment, and therefore the trucking company would not be liable for the accident. Under Delaware law, if an employee is acting for strictly personal reasons, the employer is not liable.
Whether an employee, such as a truck driver, is acting on behalf of the employer (truck company) depends on several factors, such as:
- where the truck driver was driving to/from,
- whether the truck accident occurred within normal working hours, and
- whether the truck driver’s conduct at the time of the accident was intended, at least in part, to serve his employer.
For example, a delivery truck driver who makes a trip home for lunch may be operating outside the scope of his employment and therefore, the employer might not be held liable. See generally, Johnson v. E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co., Del. Super., 182 A.2d 904, 905 (1962) (trip home for lunch was outside the scope of the employee’s employment).
Therefore, truck accident cases can be very complex, and it is important to have an experienced and knowledgeable car-truck accident lawyer on your side.
Related DE car-truck accident legal articles:
- Common Types of Truck Accidents, by a Delaware Car & Truck Accident Lawyer
- Delaware Truck Accidents in 2010 and 2011
- Recovering Lost Wages After a Delaware Car/Truck Accident
Wilmington, DE Truck Accident Lawyer with Over 30 Years of Experience
Since 1982, firm founder, Martin Knepper, has served residents of the Wilmington, DE area in all personal injury matters, including car accidents and truck accidents. Contact our accident lawyers today and ask for a free consultation. (302) 658.1717
Our lawyers serve residents throughout the Delaware area, including: Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Middletown, and Smyrna. We also represent residents of other states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia who are injured in car or truck accidents while in Delaware. For more information, please contact us.
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