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Trucking Company Liability When Employees Cause Injury

When an injury occurs due to a trucking accident, that accident’s occurrence alone is not enough for justification of a personal injury claim. There is much for the injured person to prove in such a case, particularly whether the trucking company or another party is liable through negligence or another form of fault.

A common method of pursuing compensation after a trucking accident is for the personal injury team to focus on negligent hiring. This theory of liability, negligent hiring, is a situation wherein the employer is accused by the plaintiff of failing to provide reasonable care when screening and hiring employees or independent contractors, particularly the one that caused the plaintiff’s accident and injuries.

The difficulty of trucking company negligence cases when accidents occur justify involvement of an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer phoenix.

The concept of negligent hiring is that no employer should knowingly allow someone who is dangerous to perform a role where that danger will be presented, where members of the public or others can suffer injury or other damages due to that employee’s actions.

Reasonable Hiring of Truck Drivers

When it comes to trucking accidents, reasonable practices for hiring of drivers are specified through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These regulations provide legal requirements for the hiring process of truck drivers and how their employment is managed. For example, trucking companies are mandated through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to maintain a driver qualification file. This type of personnel file provides proof that the trucking company reviewed and documented the applicant’s qualifications, including:

  • Drivers licenses, past and present
  • Listing of prior experience
  • Accident listing for the prior three years, with details of injuries resulting from those accidents
  • Listing of traffic tickets for the past three years
  • Documentation and information of prior license suspensions
  • Employment history for the prior three years and reasons for departure from each of those positions

The driver qualification file provides documented proof of the information the trucking company had access to regarding the driver before hiring occurred. It also provides proof of that company following the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations regarding hiring and employment practices for truck driver employers.

Investigation into the Past of Truck Driving Applicants for Employment

Two areas of research the hiring trucking company is responsible for investigating are those of the driver’s history of drug or alcohol problems, as well as the driver’s personal and commercial driving records. To achieve satisfaction of these requirements, trucking companies are required by the regulations to contact past employers through faxes or other forms of communication to confirm the applicant for a truck driving position did not have a history of safety or substance use issues.

Driver medical condition can also present danger to those on the roads around them. So all trucking employers are required by federal regulators to provide a medical exam ensuring the prospective driver does not have any medical conditions that will inhibit their performance at the wheel of a truck. These examinations screen for heart conditions, seizure history, eye conditions and other safety-affecting ailments that can be found through testing. However, with rising costs of company operation and difficulties in maintaining profitability, many of these regulations have been ignored or eliminated despite potential for catastrophic consequences.

Trucking Companies Make Mistakes and Are Sometimes Unscrupulous

Like any other industry, the transportation industry does have unscrupulous companies under its umbrella. These regulatory requirements for screening and hiring of potential drivers can be both costly and annoyingly time consuming. So many small trucking companies, as well as those not performing legally by choice, cut corners in the process to expedite hiring and getting drivers on the road. By ignoring these safety measures, such trucking companies provide unsafe drivers with large transportation equipment on public roads, an open call for problems rooted in the negligence of that trucking company during the hiring process.

Beyond initial requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, trucking companies must keep driver employee and qualification files updated annually, according to their hiring anniversary. This update requires request of a driving record from the state department of motor vehicles. In these requirements, trucking companies can also fail to do their part or “slip up” through poor management practices, facilitating negligent hiring and retention liability.

When You Have a Negligent Hiring Claim against a Trucking Company

Violation of the trucking company’s written employment policies and procedures when hiring their own personnel is a first basis of a possible negligent hiring claim. Neglect or dismissal of federal regulations by that company provide additional grounds. These issues can make it easy to accuse a trucking company of hiring negligence. After all, they are blatantly failing to perform as they should and according to laws when running their business.  Which is why you need the experience of a personal injury attorney.

But these circumstances alone are not a definite benchmark of liability in these cases of trucking company hiring negligence. Even though the company has failed to follow required procedures of their own and federal regulators when hiring or keeping drivers on the payroll, this failure only justifies a negligent hiring claim if the company fails to identify the driver as unfit for commercial truck driving. Merely failing to comply with every regulation is not instant proof of liability in every trucking accident, for the hiring organization.

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