If a negligent truck driver caused your accident, you may assume that he is the only party responsible for compensating you for your injuries. However, this is not necessarily true. The trucking company he works for could also be liable. Identifying and pursuing all negligent parties is important in trucking accident cases to ensure that you are fully compensated. One way to do this is to prove that the trucking company was negligent in hiring or retaining the trucker who caused your injuries.
What Is a Negligent Hiring Claim?
Trucking companies have a duty when hiring truck drivers to use reasonable care to ensure that they have the qualifications and experience to drive an 80,000-pound truck safely. In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires trucking companies to follow certain procedures in hiring truckers. Some of these requirements include:
- Performing a check of the trucker’s driving record in any state where he held a driver’s license in the last three years
- Performing a background check of the truck driver’s driving history, any accidents, and problems with alcohol or drug abuse with any Department of Transportation regulated trucking companies in the last three years and contacting these employers to learn about these issues
- Ensuring that the truck driver meets basic requirements, such as being 21 years old or older, having a valid commercial driver’s license, and passing a pre-employment drug test
- Obtaining a medical certification from an approved doctor that the truck driver is qualified to drive a truck
When a trucking company fails to comply with these basic hiring practices, it can be liable to compensate an accident victim for his injuries under a negligent hiring claim.
Do You Have a Claim of Negligent Retention of the Truck Driver?
In your case, the trucking company may have followed the rules when hiring the truck driver. However, if the company retained him when he failed to properly perform his job duties or caused other accidents, you may have a negligent retention claim. The FMCSA regulations require trucking companies annually review a truck driver. This includes obtaining a copy of the trucker’s driving record to determine if he still meets the minimum requirements for driving a truck and reviewing his accident history for accidents and traffic violations. If the trucking company failed to follow these procedures or otherwise continued to employ the truck driver when he was not qualified, it may be responsible for compensating you for your injuries.
How Do You Prove a Negligent Hiring or Retention Claim?
Under FMCSA regulations, trucking companies are required to retain many records regarding their investigation of applicants and truck drivers that they employ. These documents—or the lack of them—could help you prove a violation of FMCSA rules and the company’s negligence in hiring or retaining the trucker in your case. Review of the documents should answer some of these questions, which is critical to establishing a negligent hiring or retention claim:
- What were the company’s hiring practices when they hired the trucker?
- What type of background check did the company conduct before hiring the truck driver?
- Did the company contact the trucker’s references?
- Did the trucking company contact the truck driver’s employers for the last three years?
- Did the driver have a valid commercial driver’s license when he was hired?
- Did the trucker have a criminal history or history of traffic accidents?
- Has the truck driver been involved in other accidents before or after he was hired by this trucking company?
- What type of training was the truck driver given by the trucking company?
- Did the trucking company conduct drug testing and what were the trucker’s results?
- Did the trucker have the required certification from a doctor that he was qualified to drive a truck? Did he continue to obtain the required certifications after he was hired?
- Has the trucker been disciplined by the trucking company? For what reason?
- Does the trucking company have a reputation for hiring or retaining unqualified workers?
To obtain the evidence you need to prove a negligent hiring and retention claim against a trucking company, you will need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney. He will understand the federal regulations truck companies and drivers need to follow and the documents you will need to prove your claim. Call our office or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation.