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Can Trucking Companies Be Held Liable for Negligent Hiring Practices?

Posted On January 30, 2017 In Truck Accidents

Are trucking companies liable for bad hiring practices? Sometimes, yes.Trucking companies are expected to practice good judgement when hiring drivers. These commercial drivers may operate vehicles weighing up to 80,000 pounds. They have an important responsibility to drive safely and in accordance with the law. There are Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations that require interstate commercial trucking companies to meet certain hiring and employee retention standards. As we know from experience, companies sometimes relax these standards and hire drivers unfit for the job. Negligent hiring practices may lead to truck accidents.

Are Trucking Companies Required to Perform Background Checks?

Depending on the circumstances, companies are required to obtain certain information from the prior employers of applicants. This means employers review driver qualification files, which contains detailed information on the history of applicants. For example, a driver qualification file may include the following:

  • Prior and current driver’s licenses
  • Applications for employment
  • Information on prior work experience at other companies
  • License suspensions
  • An annual list of violations and review of driving records
  • Medical examination certificates

These are only a few examples. Driver qualification files contain an extensive amount of information. Furthermore, federal regulations stipulate that driver qualification files must be updated annually. The information found within changes each year.

FMCSA regulations require companies to ask prior employers if drivers have a history of safety problems or substance abuse issues. They must also conduct pre-employment drug tests. Finally, trucking companies must provide new hires with a DOT (Department of Transportation) medical examination, as there are some health conditions that are automatic disqualifiers.

Why Do Companies Hire or Retain Unsafe Truck Drivers?

Conducting background checks is a time-consuming and sometimes expensive process. Trucking companies with relaxed hiring standards are generally trying to cut operating costs to save money. Although negligent hiring standards may be more common with smaller trucking companies, it affects the entire trucking industry.

There are certain conditions where drivers are disqualified from being hired. For example, companies cannot hire truckers with suspended licenses or with recent histories of drug and alcohol abuse. They are forbidden from hiring drivers who have recently tested positive for drugs. Companies may also have their own policies that disqualify applicants. These same conditions apply when businesses retain truckers.

When trucking companies knowingly hire drivers with poor safety records, or those who are not qualified to drive, they may be hit with negligent hiring and retention claims when their drivers cause truck accidents. The same may also be true when companies ignore their own hiring policies, or retain unsafe drivers. Depending on the circumstances, injured motorists could bring negligent hiring and retention claims against these companies.

The Texas truck accident attorneys at Mike Love & Associates, LLC can help victims of truck crashes and their families hold negligent commercial carriers accountable.

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