Negligent hiring is a basis for establishing negligence on the part of an employer and is used in many different personal injury cases. In the trucking context, negligent hiring usually relates to a truck driver who is on the job but fails to meet the minimum safety standards or is disqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
What is Negligent Hiring of a Truck Driver?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations set forth the specific steps that a company must accomplish prior to hiring a new truck driver.
The Regulations are very specific about what a trucking company must do to ensure that the driver they hire is qualified and safe to operate an 80,000-pound vehicle on public highways. Because of the potential for serious injury or wrongful death, it is critical that every commercial driver meets the minimum safety standards established under the Regulations. Which include factors such as medical conditions, prior driving records, prior accident history and use of drugs or alcohol all can come into play in a negligent hiring claim.
What are the Requirements for Hiring a Professional Driver?
The federal rules require that trucking companies take specific actions before hiring a new truck driver. These safety rules were enacted to protect both the public and the commercial truck driver. Much like an airplane pilot, a truck driver who should not be behind the wheel can put many people at risk. Section 383 and 391 of the FMCSR outline the minimum conduct for new hires.
The trucking company or “motor carrier” must require at least the following:
- An application for employment from the prospective driver.
- The company must check the driver’s driving record.
- Conduct a road test
- Investigate prior employment
- Get a medical exam certificate from a verified source
Negligent Hiring Vs. Negligent Retention Cases
Negligent retention relates to the conduct of the motor carrier in retaining the specific driver in question.
Negligent hiring can also include negligent retention, which is the keeping on of a truck driver who is not qualified or capable of driving safely after the motor carrier knows or should know that the truck driver is unqualified or unsafe.
Because the Regulations are so specific about what is required of the truck driver to drive a big rig and what is required of a trucking company before they hire the driver, there is quite a bit of overlap between negligent hiring and violations of the Federal Rules. Holding a trucking company responsible can prevent other accidents.
Negligent retention can be things like knowing a driver pads his logs and still allowing him to drive. Other examples of negligent retention are keeping a driver who:
- Does not get or fails a drug test
- Is convicted of too many tickets
- Has a medical problem that would prevent him from driving
- Is not competent to safely drive
What About Failing to Supervise?
Failing to supervise is a subset of negligent retention. All employers are subject to the duty to supervise their employees. Trucking companies are no exception. If the motor carrier did not discover the driver was cheating on his logbook and driving more hours than allowed, that can be a basis for a negligence claim. If the company knew he was cheating, it would be negligent retention. But if they did not know, it could be failing to adequately supervise.
If the Driver Was At-Fault Why the Trucking Companies Actions Matter
It is our belief that after a serious injury or a wrongful death truck accident, the jury should have as much information as necessary to judge the conduct of all parties. If a law provides a minimum level of legal conduct on the part of the motor carriers, the violation should be known in a truck accident lawsuit.
Texas has recently passed in law benefiting out-of-state truckers to the detriment of Texans. The new statute requires a bifurcation of the trial before the failures and negligence on the part of the motor carrier can be known to the jury. Nevertheless, the importance of making known the callous actions of the part of the trucking company or important for any victim to understand.
With an injury or wrongful death truck accident, It is almost inconceivable that a jury could hear that a person may not have been wearing their seat belt, and not that a trucking company placed profits over safety.
Contact a Texas Negligent Hiring Attorney
If you have questions regarding an 18-wheeler accident and would like to speak to an attorney experienced in such matters, contact our truck accident law firm in Texas for a no-obligation consultation – we charge no fee unless we recover money for you.
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