Are Trucking Companies Responsible for the Negligent Hiring of Truck Drivers?
When you are involved in a typical car accident with a negligent driver, such as a motorist who was texting while driving or driving drunk, that driver’s negligence typically means they are liable for the accident and your resulting damages. However, if you are involved in an accident with a negligent truck driver, that truck driver may not be the only liable party—or even the primary liable party.
In fact, trucking companies can be held responsible for negligent hiring practices. It takes a certain level of training, experience, and skill to safely operate large, heavy commercial vehicles. Trucking companies and other hiring entities are responsible for ensuring that their drivers meet all of the proper qualifications. If they fail to do so, they can potentially be held legally responsible for any ensuing accidents, incidents, and/or damages.
What Is Negligent Hiring?
In understanding liability for negligent truck driver hiring, it is first important to understand the concept of negligent hiring itself. Generally speaking, trucking companies are responsible for ensuring that their drivers have all of the proper, legally required qualifications to operate commercial vehicles. Additionally, trucking companies should conduct background checks on potential hires and take into account any past history of traffic violations, criminal convictions, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulation violations, and other warning signs of truck driver misconduct.
Therefore, trucking companies can be considered negligent in their hiring practices if they:
- Hire truck drivers who do not possess commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), which are required by Florida state law and federal law to operate a commercial vehicle
- Fail to conduct background checks on new truck drivers prior to hiring
- Overlook truck drivers’ past-violations or offenses, such as prior DUI arrests, past moving violations or traffic violation convictions, etc.
- Hire drivers who have shown a record of FMCSA violations or who have a history of violating hours-of-service rules and other state/federal trucking regulations
- Fail to conduct routine alcohol and/or drug testing or who ignore/overlook positive alcohol or drug test results
- Employ truck drivers with potentially hazardous health conditions that could affect driving ability, such as poor vision
In short, if a trucking company does not take reasonable steps to ensure that its drivers are qualified, healthy, and safe drivers, the company can be potentially held liable if the truck driver in question causes an accident that results in bodily injury, death, and/or property damage.
Recent Truck Driver Hiring Practices Could Lead to an Increase in Negligent Hiring
In response to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and the increased need for truck drivers to deliver goods, supplies, and personnel to hard-hit areas, many companies are hiring more drivers to keep up with the demand. For example, in March, Amazon announced that it would be hiring an additional 100,000 distribution workers to help meet an unprecedented surge in delivery demand.
While the vast majority of truck drivers on our roads are highly skilled and trained professionals, there remains a number of inexperienced and unqualified drivers who potentially put other motorists at risk. As we see an increase in large tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, and other commercial vehicles throughout Florida, we at Todd Miner Law are prepared to handle any truck accident claim, including those arising from the negligent hiring of truck drivers.
If you or your loved one was involved in a truck accident, contact Todd Miner Law today for a free and confidential consultation with one of our Orlando truck accident attorneys.