Can Trucking Companies be Held Liable for Using Inexperienced Drivers?

young commercial truck driver at intersection

Some truck accident claims may allege the trucking company hired a driver who was unfit to drive the truck.

There are many reasons why a driver may be unfit to drive. For instance, he or she may lack significant experience. There is a truck driver shortage in the U.S., this combined with high turnover has caused many companies to turn to younger, more inexperienced drivers to fill their needs.

Ohio, along with every other state, allows people to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) when they are just 18 years old. Many question whether 18-year-olds can be counted on to operate commercial trucks safely, as younger drivers often take more unnecessary risks than older drivers.

If you think driver inexperience contributed to your crash, the trucking company may bear liability for your accident. However, this is something that needs to be evaluated by an experienced Cleveland truck accident lawyer.

Friedman, Domiano and Smith’s attorneys have many years of experience advocating for the injured and helping them obtain compensation.

There are no upfront fees with our services. Call 216-621-0070.  

What are the State and Federal Regulations on Hiring Drivers?

Trucking companies must follow numerous state and federal regulations when hiring drivers for their trucks.

They cannot hire someone unless the person has a valid CDL. There are many steps one must take to obtain a CDL. You must be at least 18 years of age and possess a valid driver’s license to even begin the process.

These are some of the other steps involved in obtaining a CDL:

  • Passing a driving test that has a 40-minute time limit
  • Proving you know how to do a vehicle inspection before a trip – there is a 30-minute time limit
  • Proving you understand how to use safety equipment
  • Passing a background check
  • Passing drug and alcohol testing
  • Proving you possess the physical qualifications to safely operate the truck, which includes passing a vision test
  • Passing a knowledge test for the specific class of vehicle you wish to drive

It is important to note that while 18-year-olds can obtain CDLs, they cannot drive commercial vehicles across state lines unless they go through the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program (SDAP).

Dangers of Putting Younger Drivers Behind the Wheel

Younger drivers are more likely to cause car accidents, whether they are operating a passenger vehicle or a commercial truck. Despite passing a variety of tests, it is difficult to operate a commercial truck safely if you do not have much experience.

This is one of the main concerns about people as young as 18 driving a commercial truck. Many people question if these younger drivers are mature enough to fully understand and handle the responsibility. Often, younger people do not fully appreciate the potential danger of what they are doing.

Experience is often the best teacher, and drivers who have done the job for longer have a better understanding of how to avoid accidents. This is because they may have been in a variety of situations and could have learned how to stay safe.

Another benefit of experience is knowing when something is wrong with the truck or the trailer. An experienced driver might be more likely to know the truck is not running as it should, or if cargo is loose in the trailer. Younger drivers may continue driving a truck that should not be on the road because of some type of mechanical issue.

Reckless driving behaviors like speeding and distracted driving may be more likely with younger drivers.

It is important to note that some older drivers may also lack experience, as he or she may be new to the industry.

How do I File a Claim Against a Trucking Company?

You can file a complaint against a trucking company with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can do this online or over the phone by calling: 800-DOT-SAFT.  

Filing a complaint may result in an investigation into the trucking company. If it is determined that a trucking company violated regulations, the company could face fines. In some cases, a trucking company’s operating license could be suspended.

However, an FMCSA complaint will not address your injuries and damages. For that, you need to work with an experienced lawyer to file an injury claim against the negligent parties that caused your crash, which may include the trucking company.

It may not be necessary to sue the trucking company. Often, these cases are resolved through an insurance settlement. However, our lawyers are always prepared to take cases to court, as our focus is recovering maximum compensation.

How a Truck Crash Lawyer Can Build a Case Against the Truck Company

One of the reasons you need a lawyer with relevant experience in truck accident cases is that he or she will know the steps to take to build a strong case. For example, your lawyer can take steps to preserve evidence and prevent it from being altered or destroyed by potentially liable parties.

The lawyers at Friedman, Domiano and Smith have the resources and legal knowledge to undertake a thorough investigation of the crash to determine why it happened.

This includes researching the trucking company to obtain records relating to the hiring of the driver who caused your crash, including records of drug and alcohol tests, the background check conducted before the driver was hired and information the company may have had about past accidents the driver was involved in.

FMCSA rules require a driver’s qualification to have the following information, which could be helpful in proving your claim:

  • Application for employment
  • Driving records for all states where the driver had a license in the past three years, which would include traffic citations and license suspensions
  • Accident history for the previous three years
  • Employment history for three years and reasons for leaving previous jobs

Our lawyers are also prepared to gather other evidence, such as:

  • Maintenance records for the truck
  • Event recorder “black box” data
  • Pictures at the scene
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Reports from accident reconstruction experts
  • Police report
  • Available video footage of the crash

Friedman, Domiano and Smith Helps Truck Crash Victims. Call Today

We know how devastating a commercial truck crash can be for the occupants of passenger vehicles. The injuries are often life-altering and victims need significant compensation to cover their medical treatment. Severe injuries can also cause other damages that can be included in a claim for compensation.

Truck crash victims can contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an experienced attorney to determine the next step. Our lawyers are ready to guide you through the legal process at no upfront cost.

Call Friedman, Domiano and Smith to learn more: 216-621-0070.


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