Transportation companies operating in Michigan and elsewhere owe a duty of care to hire competent and experienced tractor-trailer drivers. When a trucking company based in Southeast Michigan admitted to hiring lesser-paid marginal drivers to help generate a profit, the court ordered it to pay $36 million to a motorist who suffered catastrophic injuries after one of its truckers crashed into him.
When a trucking company admits to employing a driver with a poor safety record, the employer must take responsibility for injuries or deaths that occurred as a result of its negligent hiring practices. A successful legal action not only holds a company liable, but it also raises the public’s awareness of how some drivers may not have had adequate training or safety screening before getting behind the wheel of one of their employer’s trucks.
Background of the crash
As reported by Crain’s Detroit Business, the tractor-trailer operator had a poor driving record, but the company’s former safety director hired him anyway. The truck driver then found himself speeding down an Indiana interstate when a motorist driving in the wrong direction caused two other vehicles to veer off the road. The tractor-trailer operator could not respond in time and crashed into a Jeep in front of him, causing its driver to suffer serious traumatic injuries. Had the truck driver not been speeding, however, he may have had better control of his rig and prevented the collision.
The victim’s lawsuit
The driver of the Jeep filed a legal action against the truck driver and his employer, claiming that the company was liable for his injuries because it negligently hired a marginal trucker. The company owed a duty of care to keep its driver off the road after reviewing his driving record. Before the company employed him, he had his driver’s license suspended twice, incurred several moving violations and had a record of involvement in four separate crashes. The court found the trucking company liable for the victim’s catastrophic injuries.