While not every truck accident with a passenger vehicle is caused by the truck driver, more often, the passenger vehicle occupants suffer the most severe injuries because of the massive size difference between the two vehicles. Truck drivers receive classroom training and behind the wheel training in how to drive tractor trailers safely, but sometimes, that training is not sufficient and an inexperienced truck driver will cause a serious crash. In these cases, sometimes the legal principle of vicarious liability comes into play making the truck driver’s employer legally responsible for the actions of their employee.
While it might seem like there are trucks on the highway everywhere you look, there is a significant truck driver shortage happening right now in the United States. The American Truckers Association estimates that there is a shortage of about 50,000 truck drivers now. In an industry so squeezed for workers, some trucking companies might be hiring drivers that do not have enough training which can lead to more truck accidents.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FMCSA, there were almost 3,900 truck accidents with fatalities and more than 100,000 injuries in 2015. While not all those truck crashes were the result of inadequate truck driver training, imagine how many lives could have been saved and how many injuries prevented if every truck driver were to receive adequate training.
National training standards for new truck drivers
Last year, the FMCSA established comprehensive minimum training standards for entry-level commercial truck drivers who are seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the following, “Ensuring that drivers are properly trained is a critical element in improving road safety for everyone. The entry-level training standards for large truck and bus operators put forth today exemplify a commitment to safety from a broad coalition of commercial motor vehicle stakeholders.” Applicants seeking a CDL must demonstrate proficiency in knowledge training and behind-the-wheel training both on a driving range and on public roads while following a training program that meets FMCSA standards. Training providers must determine that each CDL applicant can demonstrate proficiency in all required elements to successfully complete the program.
Truck crashes and vicarious liability
If an individual suffers a serious injury in a truck accident that was a result of inadequate training on the driver’s part, they may take legal action against the driver for their injuries and losses, but they may also be able to hold the driver’s employer liable for their injuries under the legal principle of vicarious liability. The trucking company is responsible for hiring drivers who are properly trained and who have adequate experience handling large commercial trucks. If the trucking company fails to ensure that a new driver has their CDL along with any required endorsements and sufficient training and experience they may be held responsible for the negligent actions of their employee. Vicarious liability would only apply if the accident occurs while the employee is acting within the scope of his or her employment as an employee of the trucking company. If the driver is taking a break and causes a crash then, the injured person will not be able to hold the employer responsible.
An experienced Nashville truck accident attorney from the Rocky McElhaney law firm understands all of the complexities of pursuing a truck accident claim. We investigate the crash, and develop a compelling case that wins compensation for you to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages from the accident.
At the Rocky McElhaney Law firm in Nashville we fight for you when you have been injured in a truck accident. You are welcome to call 615.246.5549 or fill out our contact form. From our offices in Nashville, Hendersonville and Knoxville, we are proud to help clients from all over Tennessee.