Professionals who drive a vehicle in any job capacity share liability with their employer if they cause an accident that results in someone else’s injury. Laws pertaining to commercial liability extend to all types of commercial drivers, from food delivery drivers and long-haul truckers to landscapers and plumbers driving a company vehicle between jobsites.
No one ever wants to be involved in an injury accident as either the at-fault party or the injured party, but there is one silver lining for people involved in commercial auto accidents – business liability insurance.
The average commuter car or truck driver in Minnesota has a personal auto insurance policy. Minnesota requires all drivers have at least 30/60/10 coverage, which means:
- $30,000 bodily injury per person/$60,000 per accident
- $10,000 property damage per accident
That minimum coverage pays up to those policy limits for injuries and property damages a driver causes in an accident in which they are at fault.
Business auto insurance policies often carry much higher liability limits, which means more money is available for injured parties.
It’s not unheard of for someone injured in a serious accident to have medical bills that far exceed the $30,000 per person policy limit. It is often difficult for injured passengers in the other vehicle to get additional compensation once the policy limit is reached.
A business with a commercial auto liability cap that’s 10 or 20 times higher than a driver’s personal bodily injury limit is much more likely to pay for full financial recovery.
Commercial truck insurance minimums in Minnesota vary based on the types of goods a company transports. For example, movers that transport household goods must carry at least $300,000 of liability insurance, while companies that transport fuel or oil must carry at least $1,000,000 of liability insurance.
Any business that transports goods out of state must also meet the federal liability limits, which are between $750,000 and $1,000,000 depending on the types of goods and materials they transport.
If the Business’s Insurance Will Pay, Why Does the Commercial Driver Need a Lawyer?
Businesses are responsible for their employee’s negligence if the accident occurred while the employee was fulfilling their job duties. If an employee were to cause an accident off the clock and with their own vehicle their employer would not be liable for injuries or damages.
An employer’s liability could also change based on the type of employee negligence. If a wrongful act is determined to be unintentional the business would likely be liable, but things can get murkier if the driver’s actions were intentional.
For example, if a driver commits assault or battery while on the clock it may be harder to hold the employer accountable for their actions, since the action is outside of the scope of their job duties.
What if an employee was drunk on the job? If driving was “within their scope of employment” the employer may still be liable for damages despite the infraction being criminal in nature.
A commercial driver who caused an accident may benefit from their own attorney if their employer tries to argue the driver’s actions were not within the scope of employment. If the employer is successful it may shift all the injury liability on to the driver.
The driver may also need to hire their own criminal defense attorney if the infraction is potentially criminal in nature. Their employer’s personal injury defense lawyers likely won’t defend the driver in any criminal proceedings.
Finding a Lawyer for Personal Injury Defense in Minnesota
Personal injury defense attorneys are often harder to find than personal injury attorneys for plaintiffs who are injured in accident. This is in large part because the insurance company for the responsible party often provides the legal defense. They don’t need to search for lawyers because they employ them or work directly with firms that specialize in personal injury defense.
If you’re a commercial driver who is worried that your employer’s lawyers may not have your best interests at heart and you want your own defense attorney, consider contacting a lawyer referral service.
The Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) can’t give you advice on what to do, but their referral counselors can listen to your situation and recommend reputable local attorneys who may be able to help.
Being on either side of a personal injury auto accident is a stressful, potentially devastating situation. For a commercial driver, it may be valuable for personal injury defendants to receive legal guidance and assistance from a lawyer that isn’t prioritizing the insurance company’s best interests.
You can get in touch with a Minneapolis or St. Paul-area referral counselor by calling (612) 752-6699.
Disclaimer: This information should be used for general information and not as legal advice for a specific legal matter you may be facing. If you have a specific legal problem, you are encouraged to discuss your situation with a lawyer in the appropriate jurisdiction.