Negligent Hiring of Truck Driver Can Cause Serious Injury, Death

Truck Accidents
Truck Accident Lawsuits

When a truck driver is working for a trucking company and causes a collision, the trucking company which employs the trucker may be liable for the damage and injuries caused. If a trucking company has hired an incompetent or unqualified driver, an injured victim of a truck accident may have a negligent hiring claim against the trucking company.

There are nearly 11 million commercial motor vehicles registered in the United States making up a large portion of highway traffic. A vehicle used in the course of business or for the transport of commercial goods is considered a commercial vehicle.

Laws That Govern the Hiring Process

Federal law reigns supreme in all aspects of trucking law, and it requires that trucking companies only hire drivers who are safety-conscious. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require employers to maintain strict standards for their drivers. Drivers must pass medical evaluations, background checks, and regulatory procedures that have to be renewed every couple of years. Therefore, even if an employee passes all required procedures to become a commercial truck driver but then years later the employer fails to require the driver to maintain and pass the federally required tests, this would be a basis for a negligent retention action against the negligent employer. The law expects commercial trucking employers to take the following reasonable steps in hiring drivers:

Make sure they have the proper commercial driving license. For most trucking companies, a class C driver’s license is required. A class C driver’s license is held by an operator of a vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds, is transporting hazardous materials, or will be transporting more than 16 passengers.

Provide proper certifications and training information. Employers are responsible to ensure their drivers attended and completed training and obtain all certifications.

Check the driving history. It is highly important to check for any past accidents as well as citations. A driver who does not follow the regulations on the roadways may not be the best fit for the job.

Screening for medical history, drug use, or past criminal behavior. Every driver is required to pass a drug and alcohol test as part of the pre-employment screening.

How Negligent Hiring Processes Result In Trucking Accidents

Negligent hiring means the company hired someone to drive a commercial truck when the company knew or should have known the driver was not qualified. In many cases, trucking companies lower their standards due to a need of drivers to haul freight and meet deadlines. This can lead to dangerous drivers operating the biggest vehicles on our roads today.

The following are common signs that a truck driver may be an unqualified hire:

He or she does not have the proper commercial driver’s license (CDL) or endorsement for a specific type of vehicle

He or she has a history of causing accidents and/or injuries

He or she has a history of driving under the influence (DUI) by alcohol or drugs

He or she has traffic violations on their driving record

In many cases, the trucking company must also perform drug and alcohol testing before a driver is hired, after the driver has been in an accident involving an injury or fatality, or when the company suspects the driver has been using drugs or alcohol while on duty.

Additionally, the company must randomly test 10% of its drivers for alcohol and 50% of its drivers for drugs each year. Beyond that, regulations require trucking companies to annually review each trucker’s driving record, which includes checking for traffic law violations from the previous 12 months and any “disqualifying” offenses, such as a conviction of drunk driving.

Negligent Retention

All trucking companies have to exercise reasonable care in hiring drivers due to the devastating consequences of not following guidelines set forth by the state and government. Negligent hiring and retention is based on the standard that the employer directing activity through an employee is subject to liability for the injury resulting from careless conduct. Negligent retention occurs when the driver has been working for a while, and the trucking company has reason to know or should have known, that the driver is incompetent or unsafe and still allows the employee to drive. Punitive damages may be available where the driver’s incompetence is deliberate, or the employer’s knowledge of such hazardous driving is known long enough to constitute for mindful disregard.

This blog post was submitted by The Carlson Law Group.

Add new comment