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Truck Drivers Can Have Dangerous Driving Histories – and Keep their Jobs!

Trucking companies are responsible for ensuring that their drivers are safe, well trained, and capable.  When trucking companies hire drivers who have a record of dangerous driving, they might be liable for injuries their drivers cause.  In any truck accident, the truck accident attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm’s the Truck Accident Team investigate the trucking company and its drivers for violations.  When you are the victim of a truck accident, we will look into the driving history of the truck driver who injured you.  A trucker’s bad driving history can help ensure you are compensated for your injuries.  If you were the victim of a truck accident, talk to our attorneys today.

What Violations Disqualify Truckers?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) creates the nationwide rules for interstate shipping, including truck driving.  They are responsible for the rules truck drivers and companies face for hours, maintenance, and safety.  Among these rules are the violations that disqualify truck drivers.

In general, any “major violation” disqualifies a truck driver from keeping their job under the Federal motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999.  This includes traffic violations that usually hold severe penalties like jail time and license suspensions.  The following are all major violations that disqualify a truck driver under FMCSA rules:

  • DUI/DWI based on drugs or alcohol – and truck drivers often have a lower BAC requirement of .04%, rather than the typical legal limit of .08%
  • Refusal to take an alcohol test during a DUI/DWI investigation
  • Leaving the scene of an accident (“hit-and-run”)
  • Committing a crime with a vehicle
  • Negligently causing a death with a vehicle
  • Driving a commercial vehicle while their license is suspended.

Many of these things, even if they are not reported to the driver’s employer, still suspend the trucker’s license.  Driving with a suspended license is a crime in every state, and many states physically take away the driver’s license when they suspend it.

Many times, these disqualifications only last for one year, upon a first offense.  For drivers with a longer record of accomplishment of poor driving, they could remain unable to drive for three years.

Other “moving violations” (traffic tickets for things like speeding and running stop signs) could also disqualify truck drivers for a job.  Many trucking companies refuse to hire drivers who have too many traffic tickets in the past few years.  Still, many may hire drivers who have as many as one moving violation per year.  Some are less discerning, and will hire drivers with worse records.

Holding Companies Responsible for Bad Drivers

Many times, even if the truck driver is legally allowed to hold a license, the trucking company should not put them behind the wheel.  So many truck accidents are caused by the driver’s poor decisions.  Whether that means changing lanes without signaling, failing to check their mirrors, speeding, or other traffic violations.  When truckers have a history of these kinds of offenses, but trucking companies hire them anyway, they are setting themselves up for accidents and injury lawsuits.

If you have been harmed by a trucker who was working, despite holding a suspended drivers’ license or an FMCSA disqualification, you could be entitled to compensation.  Likewise, even if the driver is technically allowed to drive, their driving record may have enough violations and poor decisions (even if they are not recent) to show that they should not have been hired as drivers.

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You can generally hold a trucking company responsible for the actions of its drivers.  Companies are not people, and can only act through their employees.  That means that the actions of an employee that are within the scope of their employment are the actions of the company itself.  For trucking companies, that means the failures of its drivers, while on-duty, is the failure of the company.  Generally, trucking companies can be held legally responsible for their drivers’ actions.

Trucking companies can also be held responsible for their own failures.  The biggest of these has been referenced above, but it is called “negligent hiring” or “negligent retention.”  Trucking companies have an expectation that when they put a driver behind the wheel, the driver will take the truck out into the world.  If the driver is improperly trained, has a record of unsafe driving, or has a suspended license, the trucking company should know it is putting others at risk.

When trucking companies put dangerous drivers on the road and they hurt people, the company can be held liable for those hiring decisions.  Rather than holding the company liable for the driver’s actions, this holds the company liable for its own actions, directly.  Even if the driver might legally be allowed to drive, a jury could still find that their driving record was too dangerous, and that the trucking company should not have hired them.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today

When you are injured in a truck accident, the truck accident lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team can help you get compensation.  We look into the driving records of the truck drivers who injured you and fight trucking companies who hire bad drivers.  Call us today for a free consultation at (215) 709-6940.

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