Q How can you prove a trucking company's negligent hiring practices caused your crash?
After a commercial truck accident, there are a number of factors to consider in your injury claim. At the top of the list is whether or not the trucking company engaged in negligent hiring practices. If so, this is of vital importance to your potential compensation amount.
You probably have a claim vicariously implicating the trucking company as liable for its employee’s negligent actions. However, the case is stronger if you can prove the company was also negligent in hiring a driver if he or she wasn't fully qualified, or had other problems that should have concerned trucking company personnel.
Proving Causation Due to a Trucking Company’s Negligent Hiring Practices
Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules, a trucking company has a duty to hire drivers who are qualified and experienced to drive a big rig.
This involves a more detailed investigation than is required of other employees.
For example, trucking company representatives must be certain the driver is at least 21 and has a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL). In addition, the company must review the trucker’s driving record, conduct a criminal background check, and contact his or her previous employers for an accident record, drug and alcohol problems, and health issues.
Unfortunately, trucking company personnel may not have followed these rules in your case. Here are ways you can prove this negligence caused your wreck:
- Hiring manual and policies. Your attorney can examine these documents and determine the company’s practices regarding hiring new truckers—or at least was supposed to be on paper—and whether they were followed in your case.
- Driver’s file. Trucking companies should keep an employment file for each truck driver. This file can help your attorney discover whether it conducted a criminal background check; checked the driver’s driving record for accidents; and contacted his or her former employers for the last three years.
- Drug and alcohol testing. FMCSA rules are clear: employers cannot hire CDL drivers with positive pre-employment drug or alcohol tests. There are also specific guidelines as to the hiring of operators previously involved in drug- or alcohol-related crashes. Your attorney will evaluate driver status pre- and post-employment.
- Criminal record and driving record. Your attorney will want to obtain a copy of the operator's CDL, criminal record, and driving history to determine whether the actual records match those in the operator's employment file. Your counsel may also want to obtain the operator's employment files from former employers dating back three years.
Do you believe a trucking company’s negligent hiring practices contributed to or caused your accident? Attorney Alan Morton can help you obtain the documents that you need to prove this and other claims against the company and driver. To schedule your free appointment, call our office today.