Operating a commercial truck requires a specific set of skills. Truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel maneuvering some of the tallest, heaviest vehicles on the road through all types of weather and traffic conditions. These drivers are expected to be qualified and prepared to safely operate these vehicles. Trucking companies are responsible for ensuring employees are fit for these jobs. However, there are situations when trucking companies fail to appropriately manage employees and vehicles. In some cases, this negligence results in dangerous crashes that could have been avoided with a simple amount of care. Learn more about how trucking company negligence contributes to property damage, injury, and even death.
What Is Trucking Company Negligence?
Negligence in Georgia is defined as the failure of one party to use reasonable care when performing some action that results in harm to another person. Trucking company employees have a duty to promote the safety of everyone on the road. This means companies should follow the rules of the law and do their best to ensure their vehicles are safe.
However, there are a few areas in which trucking companies are most commonly negligent:
- Vehicle maintenance
When commercial trucking companies fail to comply, the consequences for their drivers and other motorists can be serious, even deadly.
Negligence in Hiring Puts Unqualified Drivers Behind the Wheel
Most employers perform routine background checks on potential employees. It's important for a business to know if an employee was previously involved in any matter that could affect his future performance with the company. A commercial trucking company also has to take into consideration the safety of many people along our nation’s roadways, so hiring drivers with clean criminal histories and safe driving records is important. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires companies to investigate driving records of prospective employees for the previous three years, and monitor the performance of drivers every year.
Drivers may be denied employment if they have a history of:
- Many traffic violations and/or accidents
- Prior driver’s license suspensions
- DUI conviction
- Substance abuse issues
- Certain medical conditions
In some cases, trucking companies fail to perform the proper investigations or continually monitor their employees because these measures are time-consuming and expensive. This may allow unqualified drivers behind the wheel and put others at risk for dangerous accidents. If a company ignores red flags or fails to investigate and an accident occurs, it may be held liable.
Proper Training Promotes Professionalism and Safety
Trucking companies also have a duty to properly train their drivers. Operating a commercial truck requires different skills than driving other types of vehicles, and when these large trucks are involved in accidents, the outcomes can be severe. Currently, Georgia doesn't require a formal training class to be eligible to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL), nor does the state mandate a minimum amount of driving experience. To obtain a CDL, a person must pass both a written test of knowledge and a practical skills test.
After a driver passes the exam, a trucking company needs to ensure that its drivers have the experience and skill to safely operate a commercial vehicle. Many companies require new drivers to complete an in-house training program, but not all. Consequently, inexperienced drivers may not respond properly to road conditions, changing traffic patterns, or vehicle limitations, and dangerous accidents occur.
Failure to Maintain a Vehicle Can Have Deadly Results
Commercial vehicles that are improperly maintained can result in serious consequences for everyone on the road. Trucking companies are just as responsible as operators for the safety and maintenance of vehicles. According to the FMCSA, brake and tire problems were to blame in 35 percent of traffic crashes involving large trucks. These mechanical issues are preventable when owners and operators perform the routine inspections and maintenance required by law. But in some cases, necessary repairs are skipped to save time and/or money, and other motorists are forced to pay the price.
While many truck accidents are blamed on drivers, trucking companies also have a duty to promote the safety of everyone on the road. Employers may be liable for negligence if they failed to hire and train qualified drivers or take proper care of their fleet. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a truck accident, you may be eligible to file a claim against the trucking company. Call the law office of Rechtman & Spevak today at 888-522-7798 to learn more about your rights and how our experienced lawyers may be able to help.