Negligent Hiring And Retention Claims In Truck Accident Lawsuits
It’s becoming more frequent to see “nuclear” verdicts against trucking companies filed by the grieving families of those wrongfully killed by their drivers. In these cases, the plaintiffs make accusations not only against the truck driver who was involved in the accident but the company that employed them. Generally speaking, all employers are liable for the conduct of their employees while they are on the job and doing their work-related duties. Further, the owner of a vehicle is liable for any individual to whom they entrust that vehicle (this includes parents who allow their children to drive their family vehicles). So, even in cases where a driver is considered an independent contractor, the trucking company that employed them may be liable when they provide the individual with the truck.
Hence why trucking companies are exposed to liability in these cases. They can avoid this liability simply by vetting their drivers better. However, today trucking companies are under intense pressure with supply chain concerns, the coronavirus, staffing shortages, and the fact that trucking isn’t recruiting as many workers as it once did.
Negligent hiring and retention
Most truck accident lawsuits involve a commuter and truck and there is some question as to which party is liable for the accident. The truck driver is generally a professional driver who knows what they’re doing. The commuter just wants to get somewhere they need to be. Most accidents involving commercial trucks are actually the fault of the commuter and not the truck driver. When it is the fault of the truck driver, the fault for the accident is something simple like a failure to check their blind spots.
In some cases, trucking companies do not do their due diligence prior to hiring a driver. The driver then inevitably causes an accident that injures or kills another person. Not only is the truck driver blamed for their poor driving, but the company that hired him to drive loads is blamed for placing the dangerous truck into his possession. In some cases, lawsuits have alleged that drivers don’t even have valid CDLs.
How do trucking companies skirt the law?
The same way all companies do, by exploiting loopholes. One popular loophole is the use of independent contractors. Company A hires Company B to provide logistics and Company B hires independent contractors. One of those contractors is a bad driver who slams his vehicle into the back of a line of stopped cars. Is Company B liable for the injuries caused by their independent contractor? The answer is, yes, but with caveats.
The law requires companies to vet drivers prior to offering contracts regardless of whether or not they are considered employees or contractors. However, foreknowledge is the key to holding Company A or Company B liable for the injuries caused to a third party. So, despite the best efforts of civil defense attorneys, even a contracting company can be held liable if they failed to do any due diligence or had reason to know the company was employing under skilled drivers. This is easier to prove than you may imagine.
Talk to a Florida Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured in a commercial truck accident, call the Coral Gables tire defect attorneys at Halpern, Santos & Pinkert today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.