Who is liable when a commercial business or commercial motor vehicle company or fleet vehicle company fails to properly screen their drivers and subsequently puts other motorists at risk of injury or death? Many motorists don't realize that trucking companies are required to conduct background checks that are in compliance with regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This creates a duty of care. When they don't conduct proper background checks, they can be found liable for their negligent hiring practices.
Transportation companies are expected to review a prospective driver's motor vehicle records, employment history, and criminal record. They should also review the driver's Commercial Driver's License (CDL) history. This information shows whether a driver has a history of dangerous driving behaviors, drug or alcohol issues that can affect their performance and whether their license to operate a large motor vehicle has been suspended or revoked. FMCSA regulations require employers to go back at least three years when conducting these checks.
These background checks are effective at removing dangerous drivers from behind the wheel. In 2013, 2,095 drivers failed their alcohol tests. This was a sharp decrease from the 2,494 who failed in 2012. However, the number of drivers testing positive for drugs increased from 1,139 in 2012 to 1,240 in 2013. Nationwide, the drivers who fail these tests represent less than 1% of all commercial truck drivers. One thing to note is that the threshold for intoxication in the United States is .08% for motorists. However, FMCSA regulations set the threshold much lower at .04% for commercial truck drivers.
Department of Transportation regulations also requires companies to ensure that their drivers are physically fit. The individual conducting these tests must be a certified medical examiner listed on the National Register of Certified Medical Examiners. The purpose of these tests is to ensure that the driver is able to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle without undue risk to their health or the health and safety of other motorists on the road. Typically, this certification is valid for 24 months and must be renewed. However, if the driver has health problems, the physician can issue the certificate for a shorter period of time at their discretion.
The DOT also requires that all drivers be subjected to regular drug and alcohol screening. This helps reduce the rates of drunk and drugged driving in the profession. This testing may be conducted via breathalyzers, or tests of blood, saliva, or hair. Some new drivers are exempt from this requirement. Exemptions can be granted for drivers who completed a drug testing program less than 30 days prior to employment and drivers who have been involved in random drug screening programs for the past 12 months. Companies that employ drivers transporting hazardous materials are required to follow even stricter guidelines in order to receive HAZMAT certification. These guidelines include completion of an FBI criminal background check and security threat assessment and clearance from the TSA.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents clients injured by companies and drivers responsible for negligent hiring practices in Wichita, Topeka, Overland Park, Olathe, and cities throughout Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Illinois. Drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured in accidents involving commercial motor vehicles can pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, as well as pain and suffering. Individuals may also pursue punitive damages which are intended to punish the company for the negligent hiring practices that contributed to causing the accident.
We are Brad Pistotnik Law. ® We are Abogado El Toro. ® Hire the real Brad. ® Call in the Bull. ® We are the Bull Attorneys! ™ Call us at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. You can call from Western Kansas at 620-THE-BULL. Our main office location is at 10111 E. 21st St. N., Suite 204, Wichita Kansas 67206.