Negligent Hiring & Retention by Trucking Companies
The aftermath of a truck accident can be too much to imagine for those who have not had to experience it firsthand. When a commercial vehicle weighing up to 80,000 pounds and possibly carrying hazardous materials collides with other vehicles, the outcome is almost always disastrous. The property damage to your car and the area around the crash can be significant – your car may be totaled. The physical damage to your body may require numerous procedures and rehabilitation, or leave you permanently disabled or disfigured. The emotional toll of the accident cannot be measured.
If you were hurt in a truck accident, you deserve to have your rights recognized and recover the damages someone caused you. But when you are looking at who was at fault for the collision, you may need to look further than the trucker. The trucking company may be responsible for negligently hiring or keeping a poor driver. To learn more about how you can recover after a truck accident, contact the Charlotte NC auto accident lawyers at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. They have decades of experience helping auto collision victims gain compensation for their injuries and get onto the road to recovery.
The Trucking Company May Be at Fault
When you are in an accident, it can be easy to look at only the most basic potential causes such as the driver’s actions, the weather, or the truck’s maintenance. But fault can be much deeper than that. While the driver is responsible for his or her actions behind the wheel, the employer that put him or her there is ultimately liable for the damage its employee causes.
If you believe the driver’s actions were the root cause of the collision that caused your injuries, contact the experienced trucking accident attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates right away to begin investigating the driver and company. By looking into the driver’s background, you may see that he or she was not fit for driving that type of truck or you may see previous accidents or traffic violations. If you and your attorney discover the truck driver had anything but a clean record, you may have a claim against the company for negligent hiring or retention.
The basis of a negligent hiring claim is that a trucking business has a duty to protect its clients and other drivers on the road and by hiring a poor driver, it knew or should have known it was endangering public safety. The company is responsible for hiring and only putting safe drivers to work. After all, the company is responsible for its employee’s actions, which makes it liable for its employee’s negligence. You can view the driver’s negligent or reckless behavior as the company’s own negligent act.
Negligent hiring can arise from a number of different actions. The company could hire a driver who does not have the proper commercial driver license or additional certification for the vehicle he or she will drive. A business might not conduct a background check on an applicant, thereby never knowing the prospective driver has a DWI or other traffic violations on his or her record. It is also possible for a business to fail to follow a trucking regulation created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration when hiring new drivers, like a pre-employment alcohol and drug screening test. Even if the applicant has a clean record and a CDL, you may be able to prove that the person was too inexperienced for the type of truck, cargo, and routes he or she had to drive.
A trucking business’s responsibility to put safe drivers on highways and local roads does not end at hiring. Keeping the public safe is a continuous duty. Trucking companies must ensure their drivers remain well trained and have up-to-date licenses and certifications throughout their employment. If a person’s endorsement to drive a certain type of vehicle or cargo lapses, the company must ensure the driver is not assigned that vehicle or material until the endorsement is good again.
One of the major signs of negligent retention is that the truck driver was ticketed for traffic violations during his or her employment or received complaints from clients, other drivers at the company, or other drivers on the road. Trucking companies are heavily regulated by the FMCSA and are required to keep driver records that would include this type of information. A driver who has been convicted of a DWI or has multiple speeding or other traffic violations on his or her record may not be the best fit to drive a heavy and dangerous vehicle.
Additionally, the FMCSA requires drug and alcohol testing. If the company failed to test the drivers or did nothing when a driver failed a test, this can be evidence of negligent retention.
Proving Negligent Hiring or Retention in Court
If you believe the trucking company is at fault for putting a bad driver behind the wheel of a major commercial vehicle, you will need an attorney to help you investigate your situation and prove your claim to an insurer or in court. North Carolina recognizes a cause of action against employers for negligently hiring and retaining employees whose wrongful actions hurt someone else. However, a heavy burden lies on you and your attorney to prove your injuries were caused by the driver’s incompetence and that the company knew or should have known about the driver’s unfitness. It is possible for a truck driver to be at fault for an accident without his or her employer having been wrong in hiring and continuing to employ him. You will need evidence that the business knew or should have known the driver was unfit for the job, making it negligent in hiring or keeping the driver.
Call a Charlotte Auto Accident Lawyer Today
By working with an experienced Charlotte NC trucking accident attorney, you have someone who understands how to investigate these types of claims. Your attorney will use the discovery process of a trial to obtain trucking company records and depose the driver and other employees of the company. Your lawyer will learn about the company’s hiring process, including whether it performed a background check, required a drug and alcohol test, or checked the driver’s references. He or she will also look into the type of records the company kept for the duration of the driver’s employment and whether they met federal regulations.
For more information on how to bring a claim against the employer of the truck driver who caused your accident, call Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. right away.