Could A Trucking Company's Negligent Hiring Or Retention Be Putting You In Danger?

How much danger are you in, really, while on the road with a big rig?

Probably more than you realize — and definitely more than you should be. The United States is experiencing a nationwide shortage of long-distance truck drivers. That's causing some transport companies to "look the other way" when drivers have problems that should keep them off the road. Here are some important things that you should know.

The driver shortage is getting worse.

It's estimated that there are about 51,000 more trucking jobs available than there are truckers to take them right now, and there's no end in sight to the problem. Many seasoned drivers are aging out of the occupation, and there's an increased demand for shipping services everywhere thanks to the popularity of online stores like Amazon and eBay. 

The shortage has shipping companies frantic to meet consumer demands. As a result, some drivers are managing to retain their positions despite problems that should keep them off the road. Other drivers are getting behind the wheel without adequate training. Both types of drivers end up putting themselves — and others — at risk.

Employers are liable for negligent hiring and retention.

When a transport company is aware that one of their drivers poses a risk to others, the company can be held liable for any accidents or injuries that driver causes. It's considered negligence on the part of the transport company to hire a driver for a position that he or she isn't qualified to hold. It's also considered negligence to retain a driver once the company has sufficient notice that the driver has a problem.

Some of the most common examples of negligent hiring and retention include:

  • Hiring a driver for a long-distance haul despite the fact the driver doesn't have the experience to handle that type of drive
  • Hiring a driver who lacks the appropriate commercial driver's license needed to handle the vehicle he or she is given
  • Allowing a driver who has failed a drug test to continue driving
  • Allowing a driver who has a known issue with alcoholism to continue driving
  • Allowing a driver with a history of tickets, accidents, or incidents of road rage to continue driving
  • Permitting a driver with uncontrolled health issues, like diabetes, to continue driving despite the danger an emergency might pose on the road

When transport companies take risks, they aren't just risking their own trucks and drivers — they're putting everybody on the road in danger. Naturally, transport companies aren't going to admit their error with a driver after an accident. It generally takes an investigation into the company's records and employment practices order to find out the truth — which makes it wise to hire a trucking accident lawyer after an accident.

Contact a firm like St Martin & Bourque LLC for more information.