When a trucking company hires a driver for its fleet, the procedure is much different than for other employees. Trucking companies and operators must follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations regarding driver hiring practices. If a company violates these rules, an unqualified operator behind the wheel might cause a deadly wreck.
If you suffered injuries in a commercial truck accident and the driver's employer failed to follow specific guidelines, you may have a negligent hiring claim. This type of claim implies the company failed to exercise reasonable care and follow FMSCA mandates governing trucker driver employment, and this caused
If you're able to prove a negligent hiring claim, the trucking company could be responsible for compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Basic Qualifications Trucking Companies Must Verify
Federal regulations governing large truck operators require them to meet basic requirements. A transportation employer must verify that individuals uphold federal standards before hiring them.
Trucker qualifications include:
- Age 21 or older
- The ability to read and write English sufficiently to communicate with other people, read signs, and to complete reports
- Is able to safely operate a commercial vehicle through training and experience
- Is physically qualified to drive a truck as specified by FMCSA regulations
- Has a valid commercial driver’s license
- Successful completion of a driver’s road test unless he falls within an exception to this requirement
- Has provided his employer with a list of violations or a certification of traffic violations during the last 12 months
- Isn't disqualified from driving a truck due to suspension or revocation of his license, a DUI, and other offenses
Other Key Trucking Company Hiring Requirements
Once an employer completes the basic qualification check, it's also required to conduct a more extensive screening. This documentation must be retained in the Driver Qualification file for the employee.
Extensive screening documentation includes:
- Driving record. A trucking company must obtain a copy of and review an operator's driving record for each state where he had a commercial driver’s license for the last three years.
- Employment background check. An employer is required to conduct a background check of a prospective hire, including verifying his employment for the past three years; information regarding prior work-related accidents; and problems with alcohol or drug use.
- Criminal background check. The trucking company is also required to conduct a criminal background check on any potential drivers.
- Pre-employment drug test. The trucker must have a negative drug test result before being hired.
- Medical certification. The Driver Qualification file must contain a certification from an approved doctor that a truck driver is medically sound and can operate commercial vehicles safely. This approval must happen before the driver gets behind the wheel.
Negligent Retention of the Trucker: Another Potential Claim
In some cases, a trucker was qualified to drive at the time he was hired. However, during the course of his employment, he may have violated some of FMCSA regulations due to accident history, drug or alcohol use, medical conditions, or other factors.
A transportation company is required to conduct an annual review of a driver’s performance, conduct random drug and alcohol tests, and take other actions to verify his or her competence. When the company fails to do this, or continues to employ an unqualified trucker, you may have a negligent retention claim instead of a negligent hiring claim.
Don't Delay Retaining an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
You should seek counsel with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your wreck. The trucking company has control of the Driver Qualification file and other documents you need to prove the trucker’s and possibly the employer's negligence. Your attorney can quickly send a spoliation letter to the company, advising it of your claim and documents that should be made available. It's a violation of federal regulations for the company to destroy evidence helpful to your claim once receiving this letter.
Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your situation and the potential for compensation.