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Juries may find transportation companies liable for the injuries caused by drivers operating their trucks. When a company hires a new tractor-trailer operator, it owes a general duty of care to the public to deploy only skilled drivers with clear records. When considering a job candidate’s hiring, a driver’s record should not show collisions, DUIs and multiple traffic offenses.

According to FreightWaves, a jury held a logistics company liable for an accident victim’s catastrophic injuries after finding it negligent in its hiring and training methods. The verdict resulted in the company paying the accident victim $36 million in damages as part of a legal settlement after one of its drivers caused a preventable collision.

The company’s speeding truck driver rear-ended a Jeep and pushed it into another truck’s fuel tank. The second truck had stopped in front of the passenger vehicle, and the impact resulted in the Jeep driver’s devastating injuries.

Background checks and skills verification

The jury found the logistics company owed a duty to screen the tractor-trailer driver carefully before hiring him. If a driver’s CDL record shows enough negative remarks, the individual may fall below industry standards, which results in a “marginal” operator classification. A background check would have revealed that the driver who caused the accident held a marginal status and had his CDL suspended.

Before scheduling a newly hired driver to haul cargo on public roads, a company should also verify that the individual is fully capable of operating a tractor-trailer safely. In this case, the jury found that the operator who rear-ended the Jeep did not attend a required driving course. When a driver does not possess the skills to operate a tractor-trailer, it is up to the employer to ensure that the individual receives adequate training before sending the driver out on the road.

Negligence and liability

Motorists share public streets and highways with tractor-trailers, and distancing one’s vehicle from them may not always help to avoid collisions. Inadequately trained operators or drivers with poor CDL records may cause serious roadway crashes. When such collisions occur, juries may find trucking companies liable for accident victims’ injuries.