Can Trucking Companies be Held Liable for their Negligent Hiring Practices?
When a motorist is involved in a typical car accident with a negligent driver, that driver can usually be held liable for the collision, as well as any resulting damages. Things are not quite as simple for motorists who are involved in accidents with negligent truck drivers, as the driver him or herself may not be the only liable party. In fact, it is not uncommon for trucking companies to also be held partially liable for accidents caused by their drivers, especially when there is evidence that the driver was negligently hired or trained.
It takes a certain level of training, skill, and experience to safely operate commercial vehicles, many of which weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. While many trucking companies use the greatest care in screening and training their drivers, an alarming number fail to do so. In these cases, the at-fault company or hiring entity could be held liable for accidents resulting from their employees’ negligence, so if you were hurt in a collision with a commercial vehicle, you should speak with an experienced Florida truck accident lawyer who can help you file a claim against those responsible for your crash.
What is Negligent Hiring?
Because large commercial vehicles pose such a risk to others on the road, trucking companies are generally required to ensure that their drivers are all legally qualified to operate those vehicles. This includes not only providing training and testing after hiring, but also conducting background checks on potential hires and determining whether a driver has a past history of:
- Traffic violations;
- Criminal convictions;
- Substance abuse;
- Potentially hazardous health conditions that could affect his or her ability to drive safely;
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulation violations; and
- Reports of driver misconduct.
These kinds of checks can help ensure that trucking companies only hire qualified and responsible drivers. On the flip side, companies that fail to use reasonable care in conducting background checks put thousands of people at risk of injury. For this reason, trucking companies can be held liable for their failure to implement proper hiring and training practices and for their decision to overlook past offenses and traffic violations, if that conduct leads to an accident. Similarly, trucking companies can be held liable for their employees’ negligence if it is discovered that the driver in question didn’t possess a commercial driver’s license or had failed routine alcohol or drug tests.
Are Recent Hiring Practices Cause for Concern?
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing need for drivers to deliver supplies, goods, and personnel, trucking companies across the nation have been forced to hire a number of new drivers. For example, in March, Amazon announced that it planned on hiring more than 100,000 employees to support their fulfillment centers and delivery networks. While the majority of those hired to drive commercial vehicles are undoubtedly highly skilled and trained, some have raised concerns that the surge in shipping will incentivize trucking companies to overlook hiring practices in order to get more trucks on the road as quickly as possible, which could have devastating repercussions for other motorists.