When it comes to accidents involving large trucks, many people might assume that the responsibility lies solely with the truck driver. However, in many cases, the trucking company that hired the driver could also be held liable for negligent hiring practices.
What is Negligent Hiring?
Negligent hiring is a legal doctrine that arises when an employer fails to exercise reasonable care in selecting and hiring its employees, particularly those who pose a foreseeable risk to others. In the context of trucking companies, negligent hiring practices typically manifest in a several ways:
Failing to check driver training and certifications
All truck drivers must undergo certain training programs and earn proper licenses before being allowed on the road. If a company fails to ensure that a driver has these necessary qualifications, it’s considered negligent.
Hiring drivers with known poor driving records
A history of reckless driving habits like multiple traffic violations should be red flags during the hiring process. If an employer chooses to ignore these warning signs when bringing on new drivers, this could certainly be considered negligent hiring.
Ignoring potential substance abuse issues
Trucking companies are required to conduct routine drug and alcohol checks with their drivers. If a hiring manager overlooks evidence of repeated substance abuse, that could amount to negligence. Additionally, ignoring prior DUI convictions could be a serious issue as well.
Providing inadequate training
Handling trucks and cargo demands specific skills for safe operations. If a company fails to provide the appropriate training needed for a driver to safely operate their vehicle, they can be held responsible for negligent hiring if an accident occurs because the driver wasn’t properly trained.
When pursuing a personal injury claim involving a commercial truck accident, identifying negligent hiring practices by the trucking company can be crucial to maximizing your recovery.
How Does Negligent Hiring Affect Liability?
Typically, when a truck driver’s actions cause an accident, the legal doctrine known as vicarious liability comes into play. This means that the trucking company is held responsible for the actions of its employees while they’re on the job.
However, when a trucking company is found to have engaged in negligent hiring, they can be held directly liable instead of just vicariously liable. This is important because it often means the company faces greater financial exposure – for example, punitive damages may be awarded.
Trucking companies are required to perform proper background checks and screening processes before hiring their drivers. If they fail to meet this requirement or cut corners in the process and that leads an unqualified or unsafe driver onto the road, the company can face significant liability if the driver causes an accident.
Proving Negligent Hiring in a Truck Accident Claim
Proving negligent hiring in a trucking accident essentially means establishing that:
- The employer hired the driver who caused harm;
- The employer failed in performing an adequate background check on such individual seeking employment;
- Such inadequate screening let an unsafe driver behind the wheel, causing harm; and
- Had thorough checks been performed, it would have been evident that the driver was unfit or posed a potential threat.
Accomplishing this may require an analysis of employment records, driving history reports, and even criminal background checks. Considering the complexities involved in proving such instances, consulting with an experienced Fresno truck accident lawyer will be extremely beneficial. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule a free consultation.