18 wheelers and large commercial vehicles can do some serious damage on the highway. The size of these vehicles makes them moving wrecking balls on the road. Putting a bad driver behind the wheel only makes these vehicles more dangerous. For trucking companies, the danger of hiring bad truck drivers is the potential liability. For other cars on the road, the danger can be losing their lives.
Liability for Companies Hiring Bad Drivers
A trucking company who hires a dangerous driver to operate their trucks on the highway may be liable when innocent third parties are hurt. An investigation would need to be conducted into the driver’s history. Did the trucking company know when they hired them that they had a history of bad driving? Did the trucking company allow them to continue driving even though they had proven themselves to be a danger behind the wheel?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require that trucking companies keep their driver’s files. The FMCSA also states what a trucking company should have in the driver file. During the investigation into the driver, your attorney will discover if the trucking company complied with federal regulations. The driver qualification file can be kept with their personnel file. When conducting discovery, a skilled 18 wheeler accident attorney will request both.
In general, driver qualification files should include:
- The driver’s application.
- A copy of the motor vehicle record obtained from each state with information on the driver
- The driver’s road test certificate;
- Photocopy of the commercial driver’s license (CDL).
- A background check.
- A doctor’s certificate of approval.
All trucking companies have the duty to exercise reasonable care in hiring drivers. When a trucking company neglects this duty, hiring dangerous drivers, they may be liable for the acts of those drivers. Also, when a trucking company allows a bad driver to stay on the road and behind the wheel, they may be responsible for the harm that driver causes.
Cases Involving Bad Drivers that Resulted in Large Verdicts
In 2011, a commercial truck in Atlanta ran a red light a truck two vehicles. The owner of the trucking company admitted that he failed to conduct a pre-employment background. Had the background check been completed, the company would have learned that the driver had been in two previous rear-end accidents, his license had been suspended, and he’d received a speeding ticket while operating a tractor-trailer two months before the collision. The victim received $566,000 in compensatory damages. The victim also received punitive damages against the trucking company.
In 2011, an Arkansas Federal Court awarded $7 million in damages to the family of a man killed in an accident with a timber truck. The timber company hired the driver without complete a background check. The background check would have revealed that the driver’s license had been revoked twice before the accident. The jury found the timber company 75 percent liable and its driver 25 percent liable for the accident.
Contact an 18 Wheeler Accident Lawyer for Help
Hiring bad drivers is one of the many issues in the trucking industry. As demand for drivers grows, the attention paid to hiring quality drivers may decrease. Bad drivers behind the wheel of commercial trucks can endanger the public.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an 18 wheeler or large truck, a personal injury lawyer can investigate your claim. Part of that investigation will be looking at the hiring practices of the trucking company. They may be held liable for hiring bad drivers.
Contact Chelsie King Garza today for a free consultation.