Commercial vehicles like tractor-trailers require specialized knowledge in order to operate and drive safely. In the event a trucking company negligently hires its drivers, there’s an increased risk that an accident will happen.
Crashes involving commercial trucks are particularly dangerous for passenger vehicles because of the sheer size and weight difference between the two. It’s crucial for truckers to understand how best to operate their vehicles and how to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Before we look at the problems associated with negligent hiring, let’s take a look at what the typical qualifications are for a truck driver.
General Truck Driver Qualifications
Trucking companies are supposed to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations when it comes to hiring drivers. To start, potential truck drivers must be at least 21 years of age and possess a clean driving record. In addition to that, drivers are required to obtain a special license referred to as a CDL.
The process for obtaining a CDL, which stands for commercial driver’s license, is different in every state. In Kentucky, you start by obtaining a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical. Verify your doctor’s credentials to make sure they’re qualified to conduct a DOT physical before you schedule the appointment. Once that is done, you have to submit your DOT physical, self-certification, and CDL application.
Once that is completed, you can get a CDL permit. The process is similar to getting a regular driver’s license in the sense you need to pass a written exam, but CDL candidates are tested on general knowledge, air brakes, and combination vehicles. If you pass the written exam, you then have to take the CDL driving test, which includes a pre-trip inspection, basic maneuvering skills test, and driving test. If you pass all three portions of the skills test, you can go to your local license branch to be issued your official CDL.
Prior to being hired, a potential employer should ensure that candidates undergo a physical and pass a drug and alcohol test. If a candidate refuses or fails the test, any employment offer should be rescinded.
Why Trucking Companies Hire Unqualified Drivers
There are a number of reasons why a company might consider hiring an unqualified driver. Two of the most common, however, include cost-effectiveness and indolence. If a company hires a driver with less experience than required, they may offer the job to the potential employee at a significantly reduced rate. The employer may believe the driver will simply catch on to the job and they’ll be able to save the money that would have gone to a qualified candidate.
In regard to indolence, it’s no secret that applicants lie on job applications and during job interviews. It’s the hiring committee’s responsibility to ensure all applicants are fully qualified—regardless of what their resume might say. Failing to file a background check or speak to references could be considered negligent hiring.
Examples of negligent hiring practice include the following:
- Hiring a driver who does not have a valid CDL
- Failing to conduct adequate background checks
- Ignoring prior DUIs or moving violations
- Ignoring a failed drug or alcohol test
- Hiring a driver known to have a health condition that makes them a dangerous driver
If your lawyer determines negligent hiring played a role in your truck accident, they’ll do what it takes to prove that you’re owed compensation for your losses.
The Correlation Between Negligent Hiring and Truck Accidents
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, proving negligent hiring can be challenging. With the right evidence and a comprehensive understanding of applicable state laws, your lawyer will be able to prove you’re owed compensation and the trucking company needs to be held accountable for their actions.
In Kentucky, the concept of negligent entrustment arises when someone entrusts their vehicle to another person they know to be inexperienced, careless, or reckless, or given to excessive use of alcohol while driving, that person is liable for the consequences of entrustment. So, if a trucking company knowingly hires an inexperienced driver or one with a poor driving record, they can be held liable for any resulting accidents.
What to Do If You’re Injured in a Commercial Truck Accident
Truck accidents have the potential to result in serious, if not catastrophic, injuries. If you’ve been involved in a crash, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against the negligent party. Determining liability for a truck accident can be challenging, which is why it’s important to have a strong attorney by your side.
If you believe negligent hiring on behalf of a trucking company resulted in your accident with a commercial vehicle, get in touch with the Law Office of Todd W. Burris. We’ll evaluate your situation and help you determine how best to proceed to protect yourself and your future. Contact us today to learn more.