When it comes to employees, all employers want to hire and retain workers who are competent and qualified and can promote the success of the business. At times, it can be a struggle to meet this goal, and for large trucking companies, the consequences of that struggle can be very serious. Truck drivers spend countless hours on the road operating large, heavy vehicles. The potential for danger always exists, even more so for those who get behind the wheel unprepared. Trucking companies have a duty to hire and retain drivers who are safe, capable, and fit to operate a commercial vehicle. When those companies fail to meet that obligation, dangerous accidents can occur and the company can be held responsible for their negligence.
What Is Hiring Negligence?
Every company should do their due diligence and investigate potential employees. This is especially true for trucking companies, as their drivers’ abilities, training, and backgrounds can have a direct and serious impact on all those who share the road. If a company does not take the proper precautions before putting an operator behind the wheel, they can be held responsible for any accidents and injuries that occur because of that driver. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all trucking companies to review the driving records of potential employees for the three years preceding employment and to monitor the performance of current employees. Companies should take care in hiring and be aware of any red flags that could indicate a driver is not fit, including:
- Traffic violations
- Previous suspension of driving privileges
- DUI convictions
- Substance abuse problems
- Certain medical conditions, especially those related to sleep and fatigue
In some cases, in an effort to save money or time or out of simple laziness, a company will fail to investigate these areas. This can put unqualified and unsafe drivers behind the wheel.
How to Identify Cases of Negligent Hiring Practices
There are some key questions that should be asked to determine if the trucking company satisfied its duty to public safety. The company should be able to prove that they took the proper steps in hiring a driver and allowing him to operate one of the company trucks. These questions include:
- Did the driver have a valid commercial driver’s license at the time of the accident?
- What were the driver’s qualifications?
- Were those qualifications proved?
- Does the company have a history of hiring unqualified drivers?
- Does the driver have a history of traffic violations or accident involvement?
- Does the driver have a history of drug or alcohol problems? If so, were these problems addressed by the company?
If a trucking company cannot answer these questions, or if their answers lead to further concerns or questions, it is possible they are liable for the accident. An experienced attorney can help victims address the trucking company and find the pertinent answers in a timely fashion.
Prevent Accidents and Injuries With Solid Hiring Practices
Though employers may not want to spend the time, energy, and resources on thorough employment investigations, taking those steps can protect both a trucking company and all those who share the road. It is a good idea to:
- Perform the background checks. This is an easy way to identify obvious red flags. Often, these checks can be performed fairly easily.
- Ask for and verify references. Take the time to call a potential employee’s references. In some cases, these people can alert employers to issues that should be addressed before putting a driver on the road.
- Put your hiring policies in writing. Make it clear how your company goes about hiring a new driver, and follow those policies.
- Continuously monitor driver performance. Other drivers, managers, inspectors, and more can all help employers monitor the performance of employees. If a driver is having trouble, the employer should know and take steps to remedy the problem.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a truck accident, the trucking company may be liable. Call Kennedy Hodges, LLP., toll free at 855-947-0707 to learn more about your rights and how our experienced legal team may be able to help you secure the justice and compensation you deserve.