Employer Negligence & Truck Accidents
Our Houston Truck Accident Lawyers Explain Negligence & Your Rights
In some cases of serious truck accidents, a truck employer may be at least partially responsible. The companies that regulate truck operations and maintenance are responsible for the safety of their vehicles and the reliability of their employees. When accidents happen, it is important to investigate whether their action or inaction played a role. Federal trucking regulations are put in place to protect the safety and well-being of truck drivers and others on the road. Trucking companies must follow these regulations when employing drivers throughout the U.S. When companies fail to observe the laws set forth for safe truck operation, accidents are much more likely to occur.
Truck Companies Have a Responsibility to Hire Safe Truck Drivers
Many big rig drivers on the road are employed or contracted by small companies. However, the safety directors of these companies may not fully understand their responsibilities. They may hire and retain unsuitable or unsafe drivers. Employers of truck drivers have a legal obligation to perform random testing and background checks and to take reasonable measures to ensure their drivers are properly trained, licensed, and, most importantly, safe.
Truck companies have a duty to make sure a driver is "qualified" according to specific criteria, such as:
- Having a valid commercial motor vehicle driver's license (CDL)
- Being able to safely operate a tractor-trailer
- Being able to complete a driver's road test that examines safe driving techniques
- Knowing how to use emergency equipment and make pre-trip inspections
In many cases, the truck company must also perform drug and alcohol testing before hiring, after the driver has been in an accident with an injury or fatality, or when the company suspects they've been using drugs or alcohol on duty. Additionally, the company must randomly test 10% of its drivers for alcohol and 50% of its drivers for drugs each year. Regulations also require trucking companies to annually review each trucker's driving record, which includes checking for traffic law violations from the previous 12 months and any "disqualifying" offenses.
Other Examples of Truck Employer Negligence
When trucking companies disregard standard hours of service requirements by requiring truckers to complete more hours of driving time than is typically thought to be safe, they are putting these drivers at risk. Truck driver fatigue can lead to dangerous, even fatal 18-wheeler accidents. However, disregarding hours-of-service regulations is just one example of negligence. Many other instances can also lead to serious accidents.
Additional examples of truck employer negligence taken may include:
- Inadequate training / failure to train
- Inadequate vehicle inspection
- Failure to properly load vehicles
- Disregard of trucking regulations
It is the responsibility of truck companies to ensure their vehicles and drivers are safe. When this isn’t the case, the employer and/or company should be held liable for the accidents and injuries that result. You can have confidence in the team at Arnold & Itkin. We can find all the parties responsible caused your accident in order to pursue maximum financial compensation. We deliver the best future for our clients by winning the best results.
Negligent Hiring Practices
Trucking companies have a responsibility to other motorists to ensure they have the proper screening methods in place to hire only the best and most qualified people to drive their fleet of trucks. However, the trucking industry has historically faced a shortage of quality drivers. This can lead to relaxed hiring standards that put unsafe truck drivers on the road. If an unqualified truck driver's negligence caused an accident, the trucking company can be held liable for negligent hiring practices.
Negligent hiring practices occur when a trucking company does not implement proper screening and training to ensure that its truck drivers are qualified to operate the vehicle safely. Many factors can go into determining whether or not a trucking company has negligent hiring practices.
Basic screening of all applicants should include the following:
- Verifying that the applicant has a valid commercial driver's license
- Running a background check on the applicants criminal history
- Reviewing the applicants past driving record and accident history
- Requiring the applicant to pass a drug test
- Ensuring the applicant does not have problems with alcohol or prescription medication abuse
- Having a doctor perform a physical to ensure the applicant is medically fit to operate a commercial truck
Trucking companies have a duty to eliminate candidates who do not meet those basic criteria. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires employers to not only verify that drivers have a CDL, but also to obtain an employment and driving history for the applicant's previous three years. A failure to do so would constitute negligent hiring practices and would make the trucking company liable for any injuries caused by the truck driver's negligence.
The Link Between Employer Negligence & Truck Accidents
When Arnold & Itkin LLP begins working on a truck accident case, we thoroughly investigate the records of the trucking company and the driver, using available databases and information sources. Our trucking accident attorneys find out if the driver has had chemical dependency problems or if the company shows a pattern of employing those who do. We collect records of tickets issued, moving violations, and Department of Transportation background checks. We take every necessary measure to thoroughly investigate all records at hand and all of the circumstances of the collision itself to determine its cause.
We have years of experience and a long track record of success in these and other cases involving negligence. We get to the bottom of the situation and build a strong, convincing case for presentation to a jury. There is no excuse for negligent hiring of truck drivers. Call today to let us fight for you.