Illinois Appellate Court Discusses Contribution and Vicarious Liability Laws in Multi-Fatality Truck Accident Case

When multiple parties are involved in a car accident, the determination of who is liable and to what extent can cause serious headaches. Illinois has specific laws that govern issues involving joint tortfeasor liability that determine when co-defendants are liable for the conduct of other co-defendants. As dedicated Chicago personal injury lawyers, the seasoned trial lawyers of Therman Law Offices will ensure that you receive the full amount of competition you deserve from each party who caused your harm.

A recent case interpreted specific provisions of the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act. The two defendants in the case were vicariously liable for injuries that the plaintiff sustained in a multi-vehicle accident. The first defendant was a logistics company and a freight broker that negotiated contracts with licensed motor carriers to transport goods. The defendant entered into an agreement with a grocery store to arrange for the shipment of produce. The federally licensed motor carrier contacted to make the transport was the second defendant in the action. During transport of a shipment of potatoes on Interstate 55, the driver noticed vehicles stopped ahead but she was not able to stop the tractor-trailer in time resulting in a multi-vehicle crash resulting in two fatalities and one seriously injured party.

The driver admitted negligence in the resulting legal action that the survivors’ and victim brought against the parties. The trucking company admitted negligence along with the driver while the logistics company denied liability. It claimed that it could not be held vicariously liable for the driver’s actions under the respondeat superior doctrine because there was not enough evidence to prove that the driver was acting as the agent of the logistics company. Under this doctrine, an employer is vicariously liable for the tortious acts that his or her employee or agent commits during the course and scope of employment.

The jury concluded that the logistics company was vicariously liable for the accident under this doctrine and awarded damages in excess of $23 million. According to the court, the logistics company and the common carrier were equally liable for the accident and that the logistics company exercised control over the driver and her activities involved with driving the truck. The logistics company raised an issue regarding which defendant was responsible for satisfying the judgment against them, arguing that it was entitled to payment from the common carrier because it paid the entire sum owed.

The common carrier company argued that because both companies were found vicariously liable and 100% liable, each party was responsible entirely and that as a result, the logistics company did not overpay. The appellate court concluded that the logistics company was entitled to a contribution payment from the common carrier and that each party should be required to pay half of the judgment.

If you were hurt in a truck accident it is particularly important for you to understand your legal rights and whether you are being treated fairly. When corporations or other companies are involved, they often have teams of lawyers that are well-versed in the laws that apply. Our dedicated team of Chicago personal injury lawyers will work tirelessly on your behalf to ensure that you and your family receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve. Contact us today at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.