If you own, operate, manage, or run a trucking company there are probably a million things running through your mind and on your to-do list at any given time. And we are about to add another thing to that list. No doubt you are preoccupied with filling orders, keeping customers happy, and ensuring your company continues to grow, but do not overlook a critical element to your company’s success: the people who work for you.
Every company wants to have the very best working for them, and this is particularly true for trucking companies because of the exposure they face on a daily basis. When you hire a driver to go on the road, with your name on your truck, they act as an ambassador for your brand, and nearly all their actions while behind the wheel are tied to your company’s growth and profitability. This is why hiring is so important, and ensuring that those who work for you have the right record.
Lesson Learned in Accident Case
This is the lesson learned by a large trucking company back east earlier this year. In that case, Espinoza v. J.B. Hunt, a Philadelphia jury handed down a massive verdict worth more than $15 million following an accident with a pedestrian. Though it is not terribly uncommon for truck drivers to get into accidents, this case was rare, and the jury felt justified in punishing the company for its hiring practices, and that lesson will sink in.
The tragic incident goes back to when a man was walking along the road and a truck driver working for the large company ran into him, seriously injuring him. The accident was bad enough, but it turned out that the driver was actually drunk when he ran into the pedestrian. But that is not what the company was sued over. They were sued under a legal theory known as negligent hiring.
As the case was investigated by the victim and his attorneys, it was discovered that the company should never have hired this man to drive for them in the first place. It was revealed through the litigation that the man had a history of DUIs, criminal fleeing from the police, and being fired from a previous job for failing a drug test. All red flags the company should have seen before the hiring, and all reasons not to hire someone to drive for your company.
Big Verdicts, Big Consequences
All of this information made it into the courtroom, as it always does in a lawsuit, and the jury returned a huge verdict against the trucking company. They agreed that the company was negligent in hiring this driver, because they should have looked into his background and concluded that he was not the right kind of driver to be driving a big rig down the road for any company. And this should be a lesson for every trucking company out there.
At Anderson and Yamada we do more than represent trucking and transportation companies in federal and local courts, we advise companies on a wide range of issues. One of those issues is the strategies, policies, and practices in hiring and retaining the right kind of employees for your company. We would love to put our decades of experience in trucking law to practice for you. Contact us today.