What is the “Independent Contractor Defense” in a Vehicle Accident Case?

/ / Law Blog
independent contractor defense

When you get into an accident with a truck, rather than a car, there are a number of other issues that arise.  Unlike most car accident cases, truck accidents typically involve a person who is driving as part of their work or business, rather than simply commuting from one place to another. That added dimension, along with the fact that some trucks are not owned by the person driving it, can complicate truck accident cases considerably, and often give rise to a particular defense to an accident case called the “independent contractor defense.”  

In this article, we are going to talk about the “independent contractor defense,” as well as the question of whether a lawsuit resulting from a truck accident could include more than one responsible party.  If, after reading this blog, you have additional questions about your own situation, then we welcome you to contact the auto accident lawyers in Stuart, FL, at our firm, Crary Buchanan.  At Crary Buchanan, we are proud of our standard of excellence, which has allowed us to thrive as one of the oldest law firms Stuart, Martin County.  

Find auto accident lawyers in Stuart who are passionate about giving you the highest quality representation.  Call us today at 772-287-2600, or schedule a free estate planning to consult online with our online contact form

The Independent Contractor Defense

More often than not, when a trucking company is alleged to be vicariously liable (i.e., responsible for an accident even though they were not at the scene of the accident) for the actions of the truck drivers in its employ, the trucking company will claim that the driver was not an employee, but rather an independent contractor – hence the “independent contractor defense.”  

Given the frequency of such claims, courts have a specific test in truck accident cases to determine when a truck driver is, indeed, an independent contractor.  Some of the factors that a court looks to include:

1.The amount of control the trucking company has over the driver;
2.Whether the company sets a driver’s working hours and routes;
3. Whether the driver has the ability to refuse a load;
4. The manner in which the trucking company pays the driver;
5. The driver’s ability to enter into contracts with other trucking companies; and
6. Whether the company requires the driver to wear a uniform.

After looking at the factors above, among others, the court will then make a determination as to the connection between the company and the driver to determine liability.  Thus, even if a company claims that a driver is an independent contractor, that is not the final word on the matter. – the test above will help the court make the call.

Other Potentially Responsible Parties

It is important to remember that naming lots of people in a lawsuit is not just a legal tactic.  There are many situations in which certain individuals other than the driver have a role to play in a truck accident. 

For example, if the truck was not loaded securely, or if it was otherwise out of balance because of the way it was loaded, that would mean that those who loaded the trucks should share in the responsibility for the accident.  By the same token, those who may have improperly repaired the truck or provided defective parts could be liable as well.

In sum, liability for a truck accident is not as simple as which driver cut the other driver off.  A lot may be involved in the reasons for an accident.  Given that fact, it is important for you to retain the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney if you are involved in a truck accident.

Find an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Today – Call Crary Buchanan

Vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury and wrongful death in the nation. Many factors can contribute to a traffic accident, but as noted the primary reason is negligence.  Drivers are negligent in a variety of ways.  A driver who falls asleep may be considered negligent.  When a careless driver causes an accident, you can pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

It doesn’t matter what type of injury you sustained.  You have the right to seek compensation if another driver caused you injury – even if you were partially responsible for the accident.   Automobile and truck accident injuries can lead to a variety of expenses, and a personal injury claim can compensate you for these costs.  Yet, you need the right legal advocate on your side to get full and fair compensation for your damages.  If you or someone you love suffered an injury, speak with a Stuart, Martin County personal injury attorney from Crary Buchanan.  We want to help you recover the money you need.

At Crary Buchanan, we are committed to providing clients with exceptional service in every aspect of personal injury law.  You can depend upon our 85 years of experience in the Florida legal industry. 

Our legal team is passionate about maintaining the high standards of professionalism and legal service that were established and practiced by founding attorneys Evans Crary Sr. and Evans Crary Jr.  Evans Crary Sr. began his law practice in Stuart in 1927 at a time when Martin County was only two years old.  He became a municipal judge at the age of 25 and served as County Attorney for 23 years. 

During his time as County Attorney, he was elected to represent Martin County in the Florida Legislature.  In 1945 he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives.  He served in the House for nine years and even served as Speaker of the House before he went on to become a member of the Florida Senate.  Today, the Crary Buchanan law firm continues to practice the example of integrity, professionalism, energy and devotion that was clearly illustrated in the lives of both Evans Crary Sr. and Evans Crary Jr.

Our clients are more than case numbers; they are people. We recognize that you are an individual with unique needs and expectations.  Our team is here to meet your need and exceed your expectations. When you work with us, you can have confidence that a caring legal advocate is on your side.

If you have more questions or want a dedicated auto accident attorney in Stuart to help you, call 772-287-2600 or schedule a free consult online with our online contact form.  You can always depend on Crary Buchanan for community, experience, and trust.  Call today.