Large trucks are essential because they supply us with many of our daily necessities. However, an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer knows that they can also inflict a significant amount of damage in a crash. Trucking companies, therefore, are obligated to take reasonable precautions to ensure that their drivers do not pose a heightened risk to everyone else on the road. If a trucking company hires an unfit driver, that company may end up being held liable for an accident caused by that driver.
What is Negligent Hiring?
Under the legal theory of negligent hiring, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation from a trucking company under certain conditions:
- The truck driver was an employee and was acting within the scope of their employment when the crash occurred.
- The truck driver was unfit or incompetent to perform the job they were hired to perform.
- The trucking company knew or reasonably should have known that the driver was incompetent or unfit.
- The truck driver’s incompetence caused your injuries; and
- The trucking company’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing your injuries
Hiring Standards for Truck Drivers
It should be noted that in California, trucking companies may still be liable for hiring an unfit driver– whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor. Federal and state laws hold trucking companies to a high standard. Experienced Los Angeles truck accident lawyers know that these companies are required to conduct background checks and screen prospective drivers thoroughly. Further, they are forbidden from hiring drivers with a checkered driving history, such as multiple DUIs or a license suspension due to dangerous driving.
In addition, drivers must have obtained the appropriate driver’s license, be at least 21 years of age, have a safe driving record, and meet specific physical requirements necessary to operate a large truck for extended periods.
How These Hiring Standards Work in Practice
Applying the conditions listed above, suppose a trucking company hired a driver with three DUIs on their record. That driver caused your accident due to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The company would likely be held liable whether or not it knew about that driver’s record. In other words, the trucking company reasonably should have known about these red flags and not hired them.
On the other hand, suppose that same unfit driver is legally stopped at a red light and is right behind your car. The truck driver is rear-ended and ends up rear-ending you. The cause of that accident would have nothing to do with the unfitness of the truck driver. It wouldn’t matter how intoxicated they were at the time of the crash. In that case, the trucking company would avoid liability for your injuries despite the negligent hiring.
Similarly, if that same driver snuck onto the trucking company’s property after hours and took a truck out for a night on the town and ended up causing an accident due to driver fatigue, the trucking company would not be liable. The unfit driver was not acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the crash.
Hiring the Right Lawyer is Crucial
If you are involved in an accident caused by an unfit truck driver, we suggest that you hire an experienced truck accident lawyer. These cases can be complex, as it takes knowledge, experience, and resources to discover whether or not a driver was unfit. At Salamati Law, we have been fighting for justice on behalf of our clients since 1995. When we take a case, the trucking company knows that we will do everything possible to maximize financial compensation and achieve justice.
Contact Our Team of Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyers
If you have questions about liability for trucking companies that hire an unfit driver, call Salamati Law today to schedule your free consultation with a Los Angeles truck accident attorney. We work on a contingency fee basis, so there are no upfront legal costs.