What Rules Must Trucking Companies Follow When Hiring Drivers?
Commercial vehicle drivers are responsible for safely transporting thousands of pounds of sometimes-hazardous cargo throughout the country, including the heavily trafficked roads of California. These drivers must be experienced, focused, and reliable – otherwise, a single mistake could cause a serious collision and injure multiple people.
After a trucker causes a crash, while liability will typically rest on the trucker, the trucking company may share the blame. These corporations are required by the United States Department of Transportation to perform rigorous background checks when hiring new drivers. When they don’t, they should pay the price.
What Does a DOT Background Check Consist Of?
California employs the second-most truck drivers in the country, with over 149,730 drivers working in our state alone, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of these drivers also operate across state lines and may travel throughout the country to fulfill orders. To ensure that these professional drivers are operating their vehicles safely, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require trucking companies to conduct thorough background checks and regular reviews of drivers’ records. In addition, trucking companies must also comply with DOT requirements, including tracking work hours, inspecting vehicles, and other regulations.
A DOT background test can consist of:
- A Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) report for every state the driver has worked in
- An FMCSA drug and alcohol history screening
- A DOT pre-employment drug test
- A DOT physical exam (the driver must be tested every two years)
Drivers should be drug-tested at random intervals, as well as after an crashes.
In addition, the FMCSA requires trucking companies to maintain “driver qualification” files to keep track of their drivers’ licensing and certifications. These files can include:
- Copy of all the driver’s licenses, including a commercial license
- Employment history and reasons for leaving dating back three years
- Records of traffic accidents dating back three years and a log of any injuries sustained by other drivers
- Copies of traffic tickets dating back three years
- Prior license suspensions
For an accident victim, this documentation is vital to determine whether the trucking company acted negligently during the hiring process. Through it, a skilled truck accident attorney can see if the company was aware of the driver’s past violations or lack of qualifications.
Can a Trucking Company Be Found Liable for Negligent Hiring?
Trucker negligence is the cause behind a majority of collisions, but the trucking company can also share liability. Trucking companies are liable for collisions when they knowingly put an unqualified driver behind the wheel of a big rig. DOT and FMCSA background checks don’t just root out unqualified, reckless, or dangerous drivers – they also ensure that trucking companies know who they are hiring.
Unfortunately, many companies skirt these rules. The trucking industry has a high turnover rate and is constantly in need of new drivers, which may push companies to employ inexperienced or even suspended drivers to keep on schedule. But there is no excuse for allowing an unqualified driver to operate a high-powered motor vehicle like a semi-truck. Trucking companies need to thoroughly vet all of their employees. In fact, failing to perform a thorough background check can lead to a catastrophic accident, which is what occurred in the case of Ponzini Community Garage, Inc.
Who Should I Contact After a Truck Accident?
Trucking accidents are rarely ever minor, and the victims often have to deal with costly trauma for the rest of their lives. If you are dealing with a physical disability, brain injury, or even PTSD because of a trucking accident, then you deserve full compensation. Your road to recovery may be long and difficult, but you can file a personal injury claim to get the compensation you need to move on from this tragic event.
At Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie, our Orange County auto accident attorneys have spent more than 40 years fighting for truck accident victims. We understand just how serious your injuries are and firmly believe in advocating for your right to compensation. We can launch an in-depth investigation to determine if poor hiring played a factor in the collision that injured you. We are not afraid to take on large trucking companies and their insurance providers.
If you or someone you love was injured in a trucking accident, call us at (949) 752-7474 and tell us about your case. We offer every potential client a free case evaluation.
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