Truck Driver Rear-Ends Minivan, Man Dies: Part 2 – Employer’s Responsibility
This post is the second of a multipart series that examines the many facets of a personal injury and wrongful death case as a result of an accident involving a large commercial truck.
Resident of Bowie County, Texas, Sue Smith have filed a personal injury and wrongful death suit as next friend of Thomas Smith and as representative of his estate, and on behalf of herself against Bernard McDaniel and his employer, Dowell Transport, Inc. in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division. Melanie Wagstaff is also listed as a plaintiff in the suit. If you or a loved one has been injured in Texarkana, Tyler, Beaumont, McAllen, or anywhere in Texas, please contact us for a free consultation.
18-wheeler Hits Stopped Minivan, Lawsuit Follows
On June 25, 2013 at around 3 p.m., 73 year-old Texarkana resident Thomas Smith was driving a Dodge Caravan minivan on Interstate 30. Traffic slowed and Smith followed suit. An 18-wheeler owned by Dowell Transport, Inc. and driven by Bernard McDaniel hit Smith’s minivan from behind, causing fatal injuries to Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith was pronounced dead on the scene at 3:50 p.m. The driver of the 18-wheeler, McDaniel, was not injured.
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Why is the Driver’s Employer Responsible?
We do not yet know exactly why the 18-wheeler rear-ended Mr. Smith’s minivan that day. As discussed in the previous blog post, it is possible that it is the result of negligence on behalf of the driver of the 18-wheeler. But, at least part of the responsibility lies with the driver’s employer, Dowell Transport, Inc. Because we do not know all of the facts, the following is hypothetical and should not be relied upon as legal advice.
It is possible that the majority of the fault lies with Dowell Transport, Inc. It is a business or company owner’s responsibility to ensure that customers and those affected by his or her business are safe. This makes sense. We as a society don’t want companies to go to any means necessary to make the highest profit. For example, a company owner might think that it costs $100,000 per year to do extra maintenance checks of the brakes on the company’s 18-wheelers but only about $50,000 per year for injuries that result from failing to do the maintenance. So, a company owner that cares more about profit than he or she does about the safety of those who are likely to be injured would choose not to perform the extra maintenance on the truck. Therefore, if Dowell Transport, Inc. had a corporate policy that led to a problem with the 18-wheeler, then Dowell Transport is primarily responsible for the accident.
However, even if the cause of the accident was driver error, Dowell Transport, Inc. is still legally liable for at least two reasons. First, Dowell Transport, Inc. had a responsibility to hire with diligence and care. If the driver is known to be a bad driver, whether due to lack of skill, care, or perhaps another reason such as notoriously poor vision or a substance abuse problem, then Dowell Transport is responsible for making a poor hiring choice. Second, Dowell Transport profits directly from the work done by the driver. Thus, if Dowell Transport reaps the benefits of his good work, then they are also responsible for errors he makes while in the course of doing work for them.
We at Loncar Lyon Jenkins believe that owners of commercial trucks should be held accountable for any failure to properly ensure the safety of those around them. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed as a result of an accident with a truck, please contact one of our highly skilled and experienced attorneys for a free consultation.
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