Insurance Company Files Suit to Avoid Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If you don’t know how insurance works, here’s a brief refresher. A policyholder purchases a policy from the insurance company, and the policy indemnifies the policyholder. In other words, the insurance company takes on liability from the policyholder to pay out the claim. That’s how it works for car accidents. It also works that way for commercial trucking companies.
However, commercial trucking companies generally purchase several different types of policies. For one, they may purchase a traffic liability policy that pays out when someone is injured by one of their drivers. They may also purchase a workers’ compensation policy to protect their employees from on-the-job injuries. The workers’ compensation policies also pay out death benefits.
Why did we take that refresher course? Because one insurance company, Knight Specialty, has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to avoid liability on a claim made by Jacksonville Transportation regarding two of its drivers. The insurance company says that they don’t cover the company’s employees, they only take on liability for accidents involving employees where another person is injured.
This is the simplest part of the lawsuit. Two drivers for Jacksonville Transportation were killed when their tractor-trailer struck another tractor-trailer. The estate of one of the men (the one who was not driving) filed a lawsuit against Jacksonville Transportation and the other man in the truck, the driver, who was also killed. Jacksonville Transportation’s policy, the insurance company said, excludes employee-injuries and death. If successful, Knight Specialty will not be required to indemnify or defend Jacksonville Transportation.
Independent Contractors versus Employees
One of the most arbitrary but meaningful distinctions under the law is the question of independent contractors versus employees. Jacksonville Transportation claims the plaintiff was an independent contractor—not an employee. Many truck drivers do work as independent contractors, while others are considered employees of their company. The distinction between the labels determines how the individual is paid, whether or not they get overtime and other protections under the law. For that reason, employers favor independent contractors to employees.
In other words, whether or not Knight Specialty pays the claim could hinge on whether or not the plaintiff was considered a contractor or an employee. Knight Specialty wants to argue that the plaintiff “was within the course and scope” of his agreement and hence an employee. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs are arguing that the man was asleep while the other man was driving. The driver, in this case, appears to be responsible for the accident. So the case could depend on whether or not the deceased was sleeping when the accident occurred.
Talk to a Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been involved in a crash with a commercial truck, you are entitled to recover damages related to your injuries, lost wages, and reduced quality of life. Call the Tampa truck accident lawyers at the Matassini Law Firm today to learn more.