Truck Accidents Caused by Negligent Hiring & Supervision
Commercial trucks weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds and sometimes carry dangerous substances, such as combustible fuel. For these reasons, there are many rules about how a driver can become qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle and the steps trucking companies must take to ensure that they only employ safe and qualified drivers. If trucking companies violate these rules or keep an unsafe driver on the road, they may be liable for accidents caused by their negligent drivers.
What Is Negligent Hiring?
Negligent hiring occurs when an employer knew or should have known someone they hired posed an unreasonable risk of inflicting harm. Employers are expected to carefully review applications and consider all relevant factors that can impact an applicant’s eligibility for the job. Under the FMCSR, trucking companies are legally required to inspect a driver’s history, including checking their employment record, driving record, and drug testing history for the past three years before hiring.
Negligent hiring may occur in any of the following situations:
- The trucking company failed to check the driver’s criminal history
- The trucking company failed to pull or review the applicant’s driving record
- The trucking company failed to check whether the driver had the proper license or endorsement
What Is Negligent Supervision?
Just as an employer can be held responsible for not carefully reviewing the actions of applicants, employers can also be held responsible for keeping a driver employed after they have demonstrated they pose a risk of inflicting harm. A claim for negligent retention or supervision can sometimes be asserted when an employer retains a dangerous employee.
Examples of negligent supervision may include keeping an employee employed after they:
- Got in an accident that was their fault
- Failed to follow safety protocols
- Allowed their commercial driver’s license to expire while working
- Failed a drug or alcohol test
- Were found to have falsified log reports or other official documents
Why File a Negligent Hiring or Supervision Claim?
Trucking companies are generally responsible for the negligent actions of their drivers because of the legal principle of respondeat superior. However, employers are not held responsible for the intentional actions of employees under this legal theory. Under a negligent hiring or supervision claim, employers can be held responsible for the employee’s intentional actions. Additionally, a negligent hiring or supervision claim may allow accident victims to pursue punitive damages when a simple negligence claim might not.
How to Prove Negligent Hiring or Supervision
Proving negligent hiring or supervision will typically require an in-depth investigation into the records of the trucking company and driver. An experienced truck accident lawyer can gather evidence to help support this type of claim, such as:
- Problematic driving records that indicate traffic violations or other accidents
- Criminal convictions
- Disciplinary records that show a pattern of dangerous behavior
- Failed drug or alcohol tests
- Medical certifications
- Incident reports, arrest records, and criminal charges even if they did not result in a conviction
- Safety violations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations attributed to the truck driver or trucking company
- Employment records from previous employers
- Copies of background checks completed on the truck driver
How Can a Lawyer Help with a Negligent Hiring or Supervision Case?
A lawyer can help with your negligent hiring or supervision case by:
- Collecting valuable evidence
- Conducting formal discovery
- Issuing subpoenas
- Deposing trucking company representatives and the truck driver
Our team is ready to assist you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.