Skip to Content

Negligent Hiring & Truck Accident Liability

semi truck driver

Definition of Negligent Hiring in the Trucking Industry

In the trucking industry, negligent hiring refers to a trucking company's failure to exercise reasonable care in vetting potential drivers before employing them. This can encompass a variety of shortcomings in the hiring process, such as:

  • Inadequate background checks,
  • Neglecting to verify past employment and driving records
  • Failing to perform mandatory drug and alcohol testing.

These negligent practices can expose the trucking company to significant liability if the hired driver causes an accident. When a collision occurs due to the driver's incompetence or unfitness, and the company's lax hiring process demonstrably contributed to their employment, the company can be held responsible for damages alongside the driver.

In essence, the trucking company's negligent hiring creates a foreseeable risk of harm to others on the road. By failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the driver's qualifications and fitness, the company becomes partially responsible for the consequences of their employee's actions behind the wheel.

Negligent Hiring vs. Negligent Retention

While negligent hiring focuses on the trucking company's missteps during the initial employment process, negligent retention applies to situations where the driver's unfitness becomes evident after they're hired. This could involve the driver experiencing a series of safety violations, receiving complaints about reckless driving, or failing drug tests.

If the company, despite these red flags, continues to employ the driver and an accident ensues, they could be liable for negligent retention. Here, the focus is on the company's failure to take corrective action after becoming aware of the driver's potential to cause harm.

Federal Regulations & Compliance

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets forth stringent guidelines that govern hiring practices within the trucking industry. These regulations are designed to ensure that trucking companies hire drivers who meet specific safety and compliance standards, such as possessing a valid commercial driver's license (CDL) and passing regular drug and alcohol tests.

Other general requirements for drivers include:

  • Being physically qualified to perform job duties.
  • Being a fluent English speaker (in order to understand traffic signals, respond to questions, make adequate entries on reports, etc.).
  • Being able to drive the vehicle safely.
  • Being 21 years of age or older.
  • Having passed a background check and physical examination.
  • Not being considered a disqualified driver as outlined in 49 Code of Federal Regulations § 391.15.

According to the FMCSA, some of the common driver qualification and training violations that drivers themselves commit include:

  • Having an expired medical examination certificate.
  • Operating a commercial vehicle without proper endorsement, while disqualified, or while under the age of 21.
  • Operating a commercial vehicle without a CDL or while on a permit.
  • Committing moving violations frequently (i.e. speeding, failing to yield, failing to obey traffic controls, etc.)
  • Possessing narcotics while on duty.
  • Texting and driving.
  • Having an unauthorized person on board.

The FMCSA also requires companies to maintain detailed records of their drivers' qualifications, driving hours, and any incidents on the road. Compliance with these regulations is not optional; it's a fundamental aspect of operating a trucking business and is crucial for maintaining public safety on the highways.

Adhering to FMCSA regulations involves a comprehensive understanding of the rules and a commitment to implementing them in every aspect of the hiring process. This means trucking companies must stay current with any changes to the regulations and ensure that their hiring policies reflect the latest federal standards.

Non-compliance can lead to severe penalties, which can include hefty fines and restrictions on operations, which is why trucking companies invest significant resources in compliance efforts. If an accident occurs, they can also face being liable for the damages of those injured. However, in some instances, the employee may share in the liability.

Is Negligent Hiring to Blame for Your Accident?

There are many different causes of trucking accidents. To prove negligent hiring practices and driver inadequacies contributed to your accident, you can request:

  • Copies of convictions for all prior felony and misdemeanor crimes from courts where the driver lives (or has lived).
  • The Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) of the driver.
  • Copies of investigative documents like the accident report, arrest records, and charges from the police department.
  • Copies of the driver’s personnel file and qualifications listed on their application.
  • A deposition of employees from the trucking company that can establish their hiring practices and guidelines concerning background checks.
  • Copies of data about prior FMCSA safety violations the driver committed.

We Can Help You Pursue Compensation

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident and suspect negligent hiring may have played a role, do not hesitate to reach out to our experienced legal team. We are committed to fighting for your rights and securing the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today at (516) 628-6402 to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

Share To: