Can You Sue a Trucking Company for Negligent Hiring in Tennessee?

Can You Sue a Trucking Company for Negligent Hiring in Tennessee?

Tennessee, just like other places, cares about making sure trucking companies hire the right drivers. It’s all about keeping our roads safe. But sometimes, trucking companies hire folks who shouldn’t be behind the wheel. When that bad hiring decision leads to an accident caused by a driver who’s clearly not up for the job, folks who get hurt may file what’s called a “negligent hiring claim.” This is like a legal way to say, “Hey, you hired the wrong person, and it’s not fair that I got hurt because of it.”

In today’s blog, we’re going to dig into what it takes to make one of these claims after a trucking accident in Tennessee.

What does “negligent hiring” mean, exactly?

Negligent hiring in the trucking industry is a legal stance that asserts a trucking company’s failure to hire drivers who are safe on the road. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these companies are handed a manual on their duties, but it seems some see it as more of a suggestion.

The checklist for hiring a trucker is crystal clear for companies. They need to make sure that their driver is of legal age, possesses a valid commercial driver’s license, and passed the necessary tests. But wait, there’s more:

  • Driving history: They’re supposed to dig into the trucker’s driving and accident history.
  • Criminal history: A criminal background check is not just for show; it’s a requirement.
  • Drug/alcohol problems: Ensuring the driver isn’t impaired by drugs or alcohol while maneuvering a massive rig seems like common sense, yet it’s explicitly part of the deal for a reason.
  • Physical exam: A “Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination” is required, and it’s supposed to be done every two years. If a driver has certain medical conditions, like high blood pressure, it can be done even more often.
  • Employment history: Calling up the driver’s previous employers for a friendly chat about their experiences is not optional; it’s a mandate.

Yet, some trucking companies decide time and money are better spent elsewhere. They might skimp on the investigations, hire unqualified drivers, or let inexperienced rookies loose on the highways. It’s a reckless game, and the consequences can be catastrophic. Negligent hiring is not just a legal term; it’s a stark reminder that some companies need a wake-up call when it comes to putting safe drivers behind the wheel.

There’s also a term called negligent retention. This is where the trucking companies continue to keep a negligent driver in their employ even though they may have been initially qualified for the position. This can be just as dangerous as negligent hiring. Trucking companies are meant to be conducting regular check-ups on their drivers to ensure they are still following their safety and hiring guidelines and regulations. A trucking company can be held liable for an accident if negligent retention can be proven.

What are some common examples of negligent hiring?

In truck accident cases, negligent hiring claims often arise when an employee with a history of dangerous driving, criminal behavior, or substance abuse issues causes an accident or harm while on the job. Here are some common examples of negligent hiring in a trucking company context:

  • Failure to conduct background checks: If the trucking company failed to conduct comprehensive background checks on prospective drivers, such as checking their driving history, criminal record, and employment history, and hired a driver with a history of reckless driving or DUI convictions, this could be the basis for a negligent hiring claim.
  • Inadequate training: If the company did not provide proper training or failed to ensure that the driver had the necessary qualifications to operate commercial vehicles safely, and an accident occurs due to the driver’s lack of training or skills, it may be considered negligent hiring.
  • Failure to verify qualifications: Trucking companies are required to ensure that their drivers have the appropriate licenses and qualifications to operate commercial vehicles. If they hire a driver without verifying these qualifications, and this leads to an accident, it can be considered negligent hiring.
  • Ignoring past incidents: If the company knew about a driver’s history of accidents, safety violations, or other problematic behavior but still hired or retained the driver, and an accident occurs, this could be grounds for a negligent hiring claim.

How can I prove that the driver is unfit for their position?

Figuring out if a truck driver was a bad hire can be a bit like detective work. A Nashville truck accident attorney is going to look into the driver’s:

  • Driving record: Your lawyer will check the driver’s driving record. If it’s filled with speeding tickets, accidents, or other violations, that could be a sign the company didn’t do their homework. It’s like hiring a chef who can’t boil water.
  • Criminal history: The driver may have a criminal background. If they’ve got a history of violent or reckless behavior, that’s a red flag, and your attorney will be looking for that.
  • Training and qualifications: it is important that the driver had the right training and qualifications. If they didn’t have the proper licenses or weren’t trained to handle a big rig, that’s on the company.
  • Previous incidents: Your attorney will dig into the driver’s past. They will search for whether the driver had previous accidents or safety violations while working for the company. If so, that’s an indication the company should’ve seen the warning signs.
  • Drug and alcohol tests: Regular tests for drugs and alcohol are required for truck drivers. If they failed tests or weren’t tested at all when they should have been, that’s a big problem. Your attorney knows how to check for those tests (or lack thereof).
  • Company policies: Your lawyer will investigate the trucking company’s own hiring policies. It is important that they follow their own rules and standards for hiring.
  • Safety complaints: If there have been safety complaints brought up on the driver previously, and the company didn’t do anything about it, that’s yet another strike against them. An experienced attorney knows exactly how to find if those complaints exist.

Remember, it’s not just one thing that makes a bad hire. It’s usually a combination of these factors that can show the company wasn’t careful when they brought the driver on board. It’s like putting together a puzzle – you need all the pieces to see the whole picture. So, if you’ve been in an accident with a truck and suspect the driver was unfit, gathering this evidence can help build your case for negligent hiring. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney will handle this step of the process.

Can anyone else be liable for negligent hiring or retention?

In some cases, the broker (– the go-between for the trucking company and the company shipping the goods) might be partially liable. And the truck driver, of course; they can be named in a lawsuit, too.

Do I need a Nashville injury lawyer to sue a trucking company?

Trucking companies usually have insurance to deal with these kinds of claims. So, when you’re taking the company to court, you’re not just talking to the trucking big shots, you’re talking to their insurance company – and all their lawyers, too. That’s why having a lawyer by your side to protect your rights, and make sure you get what you deserve, is the smart move. You don’t want to try to go up against these guys (and their lawyers) alone. A Nashville truck accident attorney from our firm can assess the specific details of your case, help gather evidence, and guide you through the legal process.

At Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we have a long history of helping out victims of truck accidents, including accidents that were caused by negligent hiring. Truck companies have a big responsibility, and if they are lax in that responsibility, people get seriously hurt or even killed. We understand that the injuries and suffering brought from truck accidents is a huge deal that can change a person’s life forever.

That’s why we fight hard for our clients, so that they can receive their rightful compensation, and ensure that they live an easier life going forward while they focus on healing. That’s what we want to do for you, too. To schedule a free consultation with a Nashville truck accident attorney, call us or complete our contact form. We have offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, Murfreesboro and Clarksville.