Several truck accident cases across the nation have reached jury verdicts worth more than $100 million in damages. Juries are holding more transportation companies liable for the serious injuries and deaths that those companies’ drivers cause.
Generally, an employer owes a duty of care to hire competent drivers for hauling goods on public roads and highways. It appears, however, that some companies outsource the responsibility of hiring, training or conducting a background check to a third-party vendor. In some cases, an employer may not check at all.
Negligence in hiring a truck driver
A jury awarded a motorist more than $100 million in damages after finding a transportation company negligent for hiring a trucker with a less-than-stellar driving record. On a Sunday afternoon, one of the company’s trucks rammed into the back of a motorist’s pickup truck while he drove home from church. The injuries from the impact required back surgery, which ultimately resulted in the injured man’s inability to return to work.
The individual filed a lawsuit against the transportation company that hired the driver. At the trial, the jury held the employer liable for the life-altering injuries its driver caused. The company failed to follow its own policy of checking an employee’s driving record before making the hire, as reported by FreightWaves.
According to the company’s policy, new drivers may not have more than three moving violations within 36 months of their start date. In this case, the driver not only had three violations, he also testified to using illegal drugs consistently, including during his days off from work before the accident occurred.
The jury recognized the employer’s negligence in failing to adhere to its own safety policy. It should not have hired the truck driver if it had conducted the required check of the driver’s record and saw that he had three moving violations.
Issues that may require a legal action
A company that fails to hire competent drivers or lacks safety rules concerning distracted driving may find itself facing legal action. Individuals injured by an employer’s negligence may recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.