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Can You Sue A Trucking Company in Wisconsin? Copy

It is not only the driver of a tractor-trailer or semi who may be responsible for the truck’s performance on Wisconsin highways. Trucking companies that employ commercial drivers and own commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) may have legal liability, too, after a truck accident. If a tractor-trailer has crashed and caused personal injury or death, a trucking company’s negligence may have contributed to the wreck. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to demand compensation for your medical bills and other expenses.

The short answer is that you can you sue a trucking company after a truck accident under certain circumstances in Wisconsin. Truck accident cases can be complex because of the multiple parties potentially involved in a claim. But for those who have been unjustly injured, the Milwaukee truck accident lawyers at Gruber Law Offices, LLC can investigate to establish liability and determine the appropriate compensation you may seek.

 

When Is a Trucking Company or Trucker Liable for My Losses?

Obviously, truck drivers are responsible for their actions while piloting commercial motor vehicles on public roads. But employers are liable for the actions of their employees while they are performing their job duties in Wisconsin. Companies that put fleets of heavy trucks on public roads have a legal responsibility for ensuring the vehicles are safe to be on the road and are operated safely.

To pursue a personal injury claim after a commercial truck accident, you need to be able to show that the truck driver or trucking company caused the accident that led to your injury. If you are considering whether to sue the trucking company, you have to determine whether the trucker was an employee at the time of the accident and whether the accident occurred while the truck driver was performing his or her job duties.

To determine whether a trucker was acting “within the scope of employment” when a crash occurred, a court would tend to look at:

  • the employee’s intent at the time of the accident
  • the nature, time, and place of the driver’s conduct
  • the type of work the employee was hired to do
  • incidental acts the employer should reasonably expect the employee to do
  • amount of freedom allowed to the employee in performing his or her duties, and
  • amount of personal activity allowed and time consumed by personal activities.

The important question is whether the trucker was driving for his or her employer at the time of the accident.

Many truckers are independent drivers, and not motor carrier employees. But trucking companies sometimes falsely claim that a driver involved in a crash is a contractor for whom they have no responsibility.

Determining if the at-fault driver is an independent contractor or employee in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a nine-point test for establishing whether a worker is an employee, which is typically applied to workers’ compensation claims. To be considered an independent contractor and not an employee in Wisconsin, an individual must meet all nine of the requirements:

  • Run a Separate Business. The individual maintains a separate business with his or her own office, equipment, materials and other facilities.
  • File Business or Self-Employment Tax Returns. The individual has obtained a Federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS or has filed business or self-employment income tax returns with the IRS based on their work or service in the previous year.
  • Operate Under Specific Contracts. The individual operates under contracts to perform specific services or work for specific amounts of money, and the independent contractor controls the means of performing the services or work.
  • Responsible for Main Expenses. The individual incurs the main expenses related to the service or work that he or she performs under contract.
  • Work or Services Must Be Satisfactory. The individual is responsible for the satisfactory completion of work or services that he or she contracts to perform and is liable for a failure to complete the work or service.
  • Compensation Not Salary or Hourly. The individual receives compensation for work or service performed under a contract on a commission or per job or competitive bid basis and not on any other basis.
  • Realize a Profit or Suffer a Loss. The individual may realize a profit or suffer a loss under contracts to perform work or services.
  • Recurring Business Liabilities or Obligations. The individual has continuing or recurring business liabilities or obligations, such as an office lease, professional fees or liability insurance.
  • Relationship of Business Receipts to Expenditures. The success or failure of the independent contractor’s business depends on the relationship of business receipts to expenditures.

 

Building a Strong Case Against a Trucking Company

Your case will be stronger if you can establish that the trucking company knew or should have known the driver was potentially a negligent or reckless driver.

Most truck accidents are caused by driver error. Typical causes include: 

An investigation may show that the driver had a poor driving record that the trucking company ignored or failed to find in a background check. Sometimes a driver with a poor record can be hired for less money. The company may have hired a driver who was not properly trained, another potential money saver.

Trucking companies and truck drivers are also regulated by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirements. Sometimes a trucking company will encourage or give incentives to drivers to disregard FMCSA regulations, especially hours of service driving limits, to make deliveries sooner.

 

Developing a Lawsuit Against a Trucking Company

As your attorneys, the Milwaukee truck accident lawyers at Gruber Law Offices can investigate the circumstances of the accident you were injured in. When we initiate a truck accident investigation, we submit a spoliation letter to the trucking company, which gives notice of a pending claim and requests that the company preserve all relevant evidence. Such a letter often states specific evidence to be preserved, such as employment records, the at-fault driver’s activity logs, truck maintenance records, etc., as well as the “black box” event data recorder from the truck involved in the wreck.

Our aim is to recover full compensation from the trucking company that ensures that the truck accident causes you no financial injury in the long run. You may have a right to seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses, from the emergency room visit to post-accident and convalescent care
  • Property damage to your vehicle
  • Lost wages during recovery or because you were unable to return to work
  • Pain and suffering.

We negotiate aggressively with the motor carrier and their insurance company to ensure justice for you. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, we will file a formal truck accident lawsuit and prepare to present your case to a Wisconsin jury.

Contact our Wisconsin Truck Accident Law Firm

Contact our Wisconsin Truck Accident Law Firm

The experienced and aggressive truck accident lawyers of the Gruber Law Offices in Milwaukee, WI, can help you seek the compensation you deserve if a trucking company was responsible for injuries you suffered in a truck crash. Our legal team can investigate the accident, calculate your losses and fight for full compensation for you. Contact us now for a free case evaluation.

Contact our Wisconsin Truck Accident Law Firm