The relevance of commercial trucks and other motor vehicles (CMV) to the essential operation of our nation’s financial and economic health cannot be exaggerated. With 70 percent of all goods transported to American markets by CMVs with an annual price tag of nearly $670 billion, then add nearly $300 billion moved to Canadian markets and nearly $200 billion to Mexico, you kind of get the idea that we cannot do without commercial truckers specifically and CMVs in general on our highways moving goods.
While almost 45,000 deaths per year are attributed to motor vehicle accidents, less than nine percent of those deaths in were attributed to accidents involving CMVs and in 80 percent of commercial truck accidents, the other non-commercial driver was judged at fault. On average, commercial drivers spend 70 hours out of an eight-day period driving, on the road, waiting for a load, or making deliveries. Contrary to popular belief, truckers are abundantly less likely to be the cause of an accident than a non-commercial driver; in fact, only about ten percent of accidents are caused by the CMV driver and another six percent share the responsibility.
Determining Liability in a Truck Accident
One of the most confusing aspects of commercial truck accidents is determining responsibility or liability. The term, "Respondeat superior" is Latin for “the superior should answer” which puts the responsibility for accidents on the employer, since the driver is responsible to the employer, unless the driver is negligent, an independent contractor, or found to be DUI or DWI when the accident occurred and the employer had no way of knowing the driver would DUI.
However, when the driver came from a company function, the employer could be liable if he/she served alcohol at the function as in Purton v Marriott when the California Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that the employer could be held liable when alcohol was served at a company function and an employee caused a fatal accident, even though the employee was not acting within the scope of employment at the time.
Employer responsibility is usually determined by the answer to the question was the driver “within the scope of employment?” When the driver has an accident while delivering goods for the employer, the employer is normally responsible for damages because the driver was doing what he is paid to do. However, if the driver acts in a way that is not in line with their duties, such as acts of “road rage” or other intentional acts may not fall on the employer.
According to California Civil Jury Instruction (CACI), a driver is under the control of the employer when the employer:
· Provides the vehicle
· Provides a place to work
· Provides tools and other requirements to complete the job
· Pays by the hour and not for each job
· Establishes an employer/employee relationship
Deferring a Commercial Truck Accident Hearing
Since California law states that points will stay on your record for three, seven, or ten years after a conviction by the date of the violation, deferring a hearing could give points a chance to fall off your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR). A minor accident that happened three years ago, will come off your MVR after the accident date. However, since there are millions of drivers in California and you can’t be sure the DMV removed those points or the record, you should request a copy of your MVR. Anyone, including you or your perspective employer, can request a copy of your MVR simply by submitting an INF 170, Request for Record Information.
Many drivers make minor mistakes when they first get their license or CDL. That is why some states have a probationary period. If you had a couple minor infractions when you first got your CDL, but have been mistake-free until this last accident, it may be worth it to get a deferment. You will obviously need a better reason for your lawyer to present before the court than you are waiting for older points to drop off your record. There are many reasons for delaying a hearing, perhaps you need more time to get records or to complete an investigation. Talk it over with your attorney.
Call the Law Office of Bigger & Harman, APC
In SoCal, one of the best traffic ticket defense teams available is Bigger & Harman. They only defend people who have received a traffic ticket. Unlike many lawyers, you will find SoCal who offer a wide variety of services, such as personal injury, family court, divorce and others, they spend their days in traffic court. Bigger & Harman know the judges, court clerks, and law enforcement officers who appear in Hanford, Lamont, Shafter, and courts in LA, Tulare, Kings, Kern, Inyo, and other SoCal counties. They will know how to get your commercial truck accident hearing deferred, if necessary. They know traffic law and how to defend drivers that have made mistakes but need their license to earn a living. Therefore, they know how to get fines reduced, get a dismissal, or turn a suspension into probation.
Give them a call today, 661-349-9300, or send them an email with the details of your case: firstname.lastname@example.org.
En español, llame al 661-349-9755.