There are over 3.5 million commercial truck drivers in the United States. They are vital to the American economy – but, weighing up to 80,000 pounds, these trucks can be extremely dangerous with the wrong person behind the wheel.
Our truck accident attorneys in Los Angeles have found that many crashes can be traced back to negligent hiring practices by trucking companies.
Past history of violations
All too often, trucking firms – desperate for workers – hire employees with poor driving records. Companies should carefully screen new hires for prior convictions like traveling at unsafe speeds, tail-gaiting, recklessness, or driving under the influence. They should avoid hiring truckers who have had previous suspensions or revocations. While it is not illegal to hire a driver with a past record of motor vehicle violations, companies who knowingly do so can be held liable if the driver continues to break the law behind the wheel.
Does the driver have the proper license credentials?
A person must hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in order to lawfully drive a commercial truck. Drivers must receive specialized training and pass exams administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Prospective employers must investigate the preceding three years or more to see that the new hire’s identification and employment information can be verified and that there were no serious issues leading to accidents.
Drivers require special credentials on top of the CDL when operating trucks with:
- Double or triple trailers
- Tanks and explosives
- Hazardous materials
Employing drivers without the right credentials is grounds to sue the company.
Has the driver been screened for drugs or alcohol?
The FMCSA mandates that commercial truck drivers be tested for illegal drugs prior to being hired. The FMCSA holds companies liable for routinely performing drug and alcohol testing before shifts. To return to work after failing a drug or alcohol test, drivers must serve a suspension, pass retest, and face random testing at least twice a year. Trucking firms can be held liable if their drivers fail to pass these tests and continue to operate commercial vehicles.
Negligent truck driver hiring practices
Less than two decades ago, the LA Times ran a report that 113 of the 2,600 city of LA truck drivers had failed drug tests or lost the right to drive their personal vehicles within a three-year period. One truck driver was involved in a fatal accident that resulted in a $19 million settlement in favor of the plaintiff. Acting as an employer, the City paid $19.3 million in judgments and settlements related to negligent hiring practices and driver monitoring. It was found that 95 city truck drivers returned to their jobs, despite testing positive for drugs or alcohol. Nearly half of those people failed a second test, but 23 still returned to work without penalty.
California 18 wheeler accident attorney
Litigating commercial truck accidents is one of our areas of expertise here at The Salamati Law Firm. Our Southern California 18 wheeler accident attorneys are committed to serving you and your family following a life-changing truck accident. We have a long track record of multi-million dollar wins for our truck accident victim clients. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. There is no fee unless we win your case.
- TruckingInfo, Trucking Statistics, http://www.truckinfo.net/trucking/stats.htm
- LA Times,City Truck Drivers Still on Road After Drug Test Failures