Who to Sue in a Tractor-Trailer Collision?

Potential Defendants Expanded Under the Law By St. Louis Tractor Trailer Lawyer

Missouri  Tractor Trailer Lawyer Michelle M. Funkenbusch has the expertise to know WHO to sue. Trucking Lawyer Michelle M. Funkenbusch was part of the trial team in 2010 that greatly expanded truck accident victims rights in Missouri.  In the federal court case(relying on Missouri law) Huggins v. Fed Ex. et al, Michelle and her trial team made new law that expands and clarifies who can be sued when the driver of a tractor-trailer is an independent contractor.   The appeals Court ruled in favor of Michelle and held that the trucking company retained the “right to control” at least some of the “means and methods” used by the independent contractor that employed one of the drivers to achieve the contract’s stated objectives.  Michelle’s trial team established 43 ways that Fed Ex maintained control of the Fed Ex driver, even though they were not officially the “employer”.  After winning the appeal, Michelle’s trial team thereafter obtained a jury verdict for $1,050,000.00 in the case.  The effect of this case is far reaching and will change the potential liability in the United States for Fed Ex, and other trucking companies who try to avoid liability by hiring independent contractors.

This one example is why you need an experienced trucking lawyer to handle your tractor-trailer accident.  Depending on the specific circumstances surrounding your truck accident, your tractor-trailer accident lawyer may be able to pursue claims against other parties in addition to a claim against the truck driver.  The trucking company or motor carrier, safety director for the carrier, diesel mechanic, vehicle inspector and insurance company may also be liable for your injuries.

When a commercial truck accident occurs, if an employment relationship is established between the truck driver and a trucking or shipping company, then that company (not just the truck driver who failed to drive safely) can be held liable for the driver’s negligence under a legal theory known as “respondeat superior.” Under this doctrine, a trucking company or other employer can be held liable for the wrongful acts of its drivers. Trucking companies may try to fight liability under this theory by arguing that the wrongful act did not occur while within the scope of employment or they may claim they had no knowledge that the negligently entrusted the shipping of goods to a dangerous driver.   Motor carriers also try to limit their liability by hiring drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, but Michelle and her team were victorious in overcoming that limitation.

In some cases, the manufacturer of the truck may also be held liable if the accident was caused by some defect in the truck. A shipper of hazardous materials carried by the truck may also be legally responsible for any injuries that were caused or made worse by the type of cargo on board. For example, if a shipper fails to advise a truck driver or trucking company of hazardous material contained in a load of freight, the shipper may be liable for injuries that result if that material catches fire or is released.

Having been on the “inside” of the trucking industry for 8 years, Michelle M. Funkenbusch has real trucking knowledge and is not just a self-proclaimed truck accident lawyer.  She has attended truck braking seminars, taught other lawyers how to use the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and has even written portions of books for the trucking industry.  She is a master of the trucking industry. Having handled countless truck accident cases, including major wrongful death cases, she is prepared and experienced to handle your case.  Unlike car-car accident cases, accidents involving commercial vehicles require special expertise.  Don’t just hire any lawyer who claims to be a trucking expert; they just see big dollars.  Hire a real trucking trial lawyer, Michelle M. Funkenbusch, 314-338-3500.

For a free initial consultation with a lawyer about your car accident, contact our law firm.

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