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Lack of Pre-Hiring Screening Constitutes Basis of Liability for Trucking Companies

Trucking companies can mitigate the risk of fines, litigation costs, and personal injury or wrongful death damages by conducting a proper background investigation of potential new hires. Despite these financial benefits, many commercial carriers elect to offer jobs without conducting an adequate background check.  Since trucking companies are aware that bad drivers will work for less than truckers with good safety records, carriers often elect to take a chance on immediate savings while dismissing potential expenses related to employing unqualified truck drivers.

Our experienced Miami truck accident lawyers carefully investigate the pre-employment screening conducted by employers of negligent truck drivers who cause crashes.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) impose strict safety rules on trucking companies regarding maintaining safety records, conducting pre-hiring background checks, and administering pre-employment drug and alcohol screening.  Evidence of negligent hiring of a commercial driver based on a failure to conduct pre-employment screening under 49 CFR § 391.23 often justifies imposing liability or punitive damages.

This regulatory provision imposes an affirmative duty on trucking companies that engage in interstate trucking (i.e. across state lines) to conduct an investigation into the background of potential hires, which includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Motor Vehicle Licensing Records: The commercial carrier must direct the inquiry toward every state that the potential hire holds or has held a driver’s license or permit during the previous three years.  A printed copy of the driving records must be obtained and kept on file by the prospective employer.
  • Prior Employment: Records also must be maintained regarding contacts with prior employers.  The commercial carrier must maintain a written record evidencing contact with prior employers or good faith efforts to establish such communication.  The information on file must at least include the date of contact or attempted contact, name and address of prior employer, and information provided about the hire.
  • Safety Performance Records: Pursuant to 49 CFR § 391.53, the hiring trucking carrier must retain safety records obtained from prior employers in the employee’s personnel file during the employee’s tenure and for three years after termination of the employment relationship.
  • Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Testing: Inquiry must be made regarding prior alcohol and controlled substance violations by a prospective commercial driver.  The scope of this inquiry must include refusals to submit to drug and alcohol tests, positive drug tests, or alcohol tests with a result over .04 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC).  Further, the employer also must compel applicants to submit to a pre-employment drug test.  The applicant may not be employed as a commercial driver without a verified negative controlled substances test.

Greenberg Stone and Urbano:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Victims of Unsafe Truckers and Trucking Companies

If you or a family member has been injured in a semi-truck accident, our Florida Big-Rig Injury Lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano tenaciously pursue the fullest compensation for our clients.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

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