A Driver’s Health can Endanger a Trucking Company’s Fiscal Health

Kevin Anderson Employment and Labor, Transportation

With the economy continuing to tick upwards, companies across the country are finding it difficult to hire good help. This has led to increased wages, competition, and loss of employees to rival companies. In the end it drives companies to hire anyone able to do a job, and possibly disregard some red flags, such as driver health and safety. This risk is never worth it.

There are few things worse in business than informing a customer that your company is unable to take on a job because of being short of help. This is why companies go to such great lengths to ensure that they are staffed appropriately, because it helps to ensure customers will return. And as most business professionals know, after losing a customer it is very difficult to get them back.

Skip the Risks

In a case from the Midwest, the victim of an accident with a truck driver tried to take advantage of an employee’s health issues in a lawsuit. In that case, Kyles v. Celadon Trucking Services, Inc., a truck driver rear ended another driver while on a state highway. According to the opinion, the victim of the accident suffered a great deal that led to long lasting health complications. This is typical in a trucking accident case, but another claim they made was not.

In their complaint, the plaintiff asked the court to impose punitive damages for what happened. According to their claim, the trucking company who hired and retained the driver was grossly negligent, and should be punished, because the truck driver involved suffered from sleep apnea.The problem with this theory, as the court pointed out, was that his apnea was being treated, and having sleep apnea does not disqualify a truck driver from driving according to FMCSA regulations.

This is the case in most instance, given the nature of the trucking industry. Few areas of interstate commerce are as highly regulated and closely watched as trucking companies. From what is hauled to who is doing the hauling, federal, state and local governments regulate every aspect of what happens on the road. And this is for good reason, because the rest of us share that same, narrow road with the nation’s truck drivers.

Caution With Hiring Drivers

As this case illustrates, who a company hires is just as important to the bottom line as what a company delivers. Every time a driver takes to the road to deliver goods, the company’s financial welfare goes with him. That is why hiring policies and training can be so vital to a company’s well being, and a great way to mitigate risks. Following national regulations and health standards established by the FMCSA is a great place to start, but your company policies should not end there.

Having a partner who knows what is important when cases go to court is vital for your company’s success. At Anderson and Yamada we have decades of experience representing trucking and transportation companies at the local and federal level. As you evaluate your company’s legal needs, we look forward to hearing from you. Contact us today.