Living in Indiana, most people are familiar with the sight of semi-trucks zooming down the highway. But most people probably don’t know how huge the industry is. As of 2016, 3.5 million people were employed as truck drivers. Given those numbers, you may be surprised to know that there is currently a shortage of truck drivers in the United States. The shortage has been attributed to people being turned off by the type of lifestyle truckers lead on a day-to-day basis. Due to the shortage, it is getting harder to find quality truck drivers. Because of this, some companies may be hiring drivers with spotty driving histories while depending more on independent contractors to get their goods from point A to point B. As the shortage continues there has been a spike in semi-truck related accidents. These types of accidents can lead to some complicated legal issues for all parties, including the injured party.
What Does it Mean to be an Independent Trucking Contractor?
Being an independent contractor (AKA owner operator) in the trucking world entails a lot more responsibility on the part of the driver in comparison to a company driver. Owner operators choose their own hours, who they work for, as well as what kind of truck they want to drive. They are also responsible for a lot of their own oversight, which takes a lot of responsibility away from the company who hires them. On the other hand, independent contractors pay for their own trucks, truck maintenance, and insurance. So while they have more freedom in some areas, they also have more responsibility for their own financial oversight.
Why Do Companies Hire Independent Truck Drivers?
One regulation among many in the trucking industry is that fact that truckers are restricted to only driving 11 hours a day within a 14-hour period. While this good for highway safety, it cuts into a manufacturer’s ability to ship as quickly as they used to. This rule is in place for both independent contractors and company-owned trucks, but some companies find it easier to work with independent contractors. This is because they don’t have to worry about the logistics that go into keeping track of a company driver as far as how much they drive, leaving a lot of the oversight to the independent trucker themselves. The ability to not be held responsible for the oversight of contracted drivers is a huge advantage for a lot of companies. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be held liable in some circumstances.
Truck Driver vs. Truck Company Liability
Any company who hires an independent contractor is responsible for meeting the best practices of the trucking industry. Most importantly, it means that they hire capable drivers. They should check things like driving records and motor vehicle record reviews. If they don’t they could be found responsible if that driver injures someone in an accident. The companies are also responsible for making sure that the contracted drivers have been properly trained on the type of truck they are driving. As well as all the different processes involved in doing the job they were hired for. If they aren’t, the leasing company could be found responsible for damages caused on their behalf. In the end, there are some distinct differences between dealing with an independent contractor and a trucking company.
Owner Operator Insurance Issues
Statistically, it has been shown that owner operators are involved in fewer and less severe accidents than company employed truckers, but they still need to carry insurance to operate legally in the United States. However, the insurance issues involving owner operators can be a little complicated. If you are involved in an accident with an independent trucker, you may end up dealing with multiple insurance companies and different policies. Finding yourself in a situation where you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, insurance issues can be extremely complicated and one of the many reasons you need to talk to an attorney.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a semi-truck, we are here to help. The Indianapolis personal injury attorneys at Cline Farrell Christie & Lee want to help you get what you need to move forward in life with peace of mind. From listening to your story to fighting for you in court, we’re your advocates. Contact us today for a free consultation.