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Avoiding negligence claims in the trucking industry

If you own a trucking company, you know how difficult it is these days to get qualified, experienced drivers. Many companies are relaxing their rules and hiring younger and/or older drivers than they did in the past. They may not be able to meet the demand for their services without hiring drivers who don't have pristine driving records or don't have many hours behind the wheel of large commercial trucks.

If one of your drivers is responsible for a crash, you could easily find yourself on the wrong side on a lawsuit. Since truck crashes often cause serious injuries and fatalities, in addition to serious property damage, you could be sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, particularly if there's a "negligent hiring" component to the suit. In fact, two-thirds of negligent hiring claims, when taken to trial, result in damage awards of over $600,000.

Trucking companies can be accused of negligence not just in their hiring decisions, but beyond. They can face a negligent retention claim if they retained a driver when there was evidence that he or she could be a danger or if they changed a drivers' responsibilities without ensuring that he or she was qualified to handle them or provide necessary training.

Companies can minimize their risk of one of their drivers causing a tragic crash by doing thorough background checks on all new employees. This includes getting their pre-employment screening (PSP) report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and their motor vehicle report (MVR) from the state. Ensure the accuracy of the experience and other information the driver has listed on his or her resume and application. It's essential that you have documented hiring policies and that all of your hiring managers and recruiters follow them without exception.

You should also have formalized training procedures and policies in place for dealing with drivers who receive violations. If you give a driver new responsibilities or move him or her to a different vehicle, it's essential to ensure that the driver receives the proper training.

If you are named as a defendant in a negligence lawsuit because of the alleged actions or negligence of one of your drivers, it's essential to seek the guidance of an experienced North Carolina attorney.

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Scott Law Group, PLLC
210 N. Main Street
Suite 322
Kernersville, NC 27284

Toll Free: 800-566-2907
Phone: 336-310-8569
Fax: 336-993-5030

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