The trucking industry plays a vital role in transporting goods across the country. The trucking industry is worth over $700 billion and makes up approximately 5% of the total full-time jobs in the United States. While shippers and carriers are an important piece, truck drivers power the entire industry. They perform incredible work and should not be taken for granted.
Unfortunately, the trucking industry is not without its risks, as many Motor Carriers hire inexperienced and inadequately trained commercial truck drivers. One of the most significant risks comes from negligent hiring practices by trucking companies, particularly when it comes to hiring truck drivers. In this blog, the Colorado trucking accident lawyers at Bowman Law firm in Denver will explore the issue of negligent hiring of truck drivers and its potential consequences.
What are the Risks of Negligent Hiring?
Negligent hiring occurs when a company fails to exercise reasonable care when hiring employees who pose a risk to others. In the trucking industry, this often involves hiring truck drivers who are not properly qualified, have a history of accidents or violations, or have a history of drug or alcohol abuse. These types of hires can have serious consequences for the safety of other drivers on the road.
Potential For Accidents
One of the most significant risks of negligent hiring is the potential for accidents. Truck drivers are responsible for operating vehicles that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, making them some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road. When companies fail to properly vet their drivers, they may hire individuals who lack the skills or experience necessary to operate these vehicles safely. This can lead to accidents that can cause serious injury or death to other drivers and passengers on the road.
Potential For Liability
Another risk of negligent hiring is the potential for liability. If a truck driver causes an accident due to negligent hiring, the trucking company may be held liable for any damages that result. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with the accident. In addition, the trucking company may be subject to fines or other penalties if it is found to have violated federal or state regulations related to truck driver hiring.
Potential For Company Citations
Negligent hiring and retention can cause citations for the company and provide Colorado trucking accident lawyers with compelling evidence of negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. Often, it is often only after a lawsuit has been filed and evidence obtained through discovery that the trucking company’s negligent actions are discovered.
Causes of Negligent Hiring
Untrained or inadequately trained truck drivers may seem appealing for many Motor Carriers, as their lack of experience results in cheaper pay. It often occurs when trucking companies hire cheap drivers to cut costs, increase bottom lines, and decrease operating expenses. Yet, research shows that untrained or inexperienced drivers get into accidents at an alarming rate. Worse than that, the truck driver may be asked to operate a big rig weighing up to 80,000 pounds, which, if involved in an accident, can cause severe personal injury.
How Can Trucking Companies Avoid Negligent Hiring?
Instead of hiring inexperienced and untrained truck drivers, trucking companies should follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSR”). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) regulates commercial vehicles, drivers, and Motor Carriers. There are regulations related to driver experience and training. When a company ignores the rules or keeps an unsafe driver on the payroll, it may amount to negligence.
The FMCSA recently amended entry-level driver training (“ELDT”) regulations that went into effect on February 7, 2020. This amendment was minor, as it adopted a new Class A CDL theory instruction upgrade curriculum to reduce training time and costs by Class B CDL holders upgrading to a Class A CDL.
The main training requirements can be found in 81 FR 88732. The entry-level driver training rule creates a minimum standard for entry-level drivers of commercial motor vehicles. The regulation requires that truck drivers complete certain CDL skills test requirements. Those requirements include range and public road segments (including discrete maneuvers). While there are no minimum proficiency hours for new driver-trainees, they must be able to demonstrate their skills to training instructors proficiently.
Truck Driver’s Qualification Files
Section 391.51 of the FMCSR generally requires driver qualification files to include the application for employment, a list or certificate related to violations of motor vehicle laws and ordinances, a copy of the motor vehicle record received from each state record, a medical examiner’s certificate, and a skill performance evaluation certificate obtained from a field administrator. Moreover, FMCSA’s guidance in section 391.51 is critical. For example, the guidance states drivers need not be requalified when a motor carrier purchases another motor carrier. Critically, the guidance states that if a motor carrier maintains complete driver qualification files but cannot produce them at the time of review or within two business days, that motor carrier will violate Section 391.51.
Ensure Drivers Are Fully Trained
Ultimately, Motor Carriers must ensure that their drivers are fully trained and can navigate the challenges they encounter while on the road. Unfortunately, our Colorado trucking accident lawyers see many examples of companies cutting corners and hiring drivers who should not be operating tractor-trailers.
Properly Vet Their Drivers
To avoid the risks of negligent hiring, it is important for trucking companies to properly vet their drivers before hiring them. This includes conducting background checks, verifying employment history and driving records, and conducting drug and alcohol tests. In addition, trucking companies should provide ongoing training and education to their drivers to ensure that they are up-to-date on the latest safety regulations and best practices.
Contact a Colorado Trucking Accident Lawyer
Negligent hiring of truck drivers is a serious issue in the trucking industry. Companies that fail to properly vet their drivers can put other drivers on the road at risk and may be held liable for any damages that result. To ensure the safety of all drivers, it is important for trucking companies to take the necessary steps to properly vet and train their drivers. By doing so, they can help reduce the risk of accidents and ensure that their drivers are operating vehicles safely and responsibly.
If you were injured or lost a loved one as a result of a Colorado trucking accident, contact our trucking accident law firm today for a free consultation. We serve Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins and the surrounding areas.
Other Types of Cases We Take
Our trucking accident attorneys also handle a wide range of personal injury cases, including Motor Vehicle Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Slip & Fall Accidents, and Dog Bites & Attacks.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.