Large commercial vehicles such as big rigs, semi-trucks, and 18-wheelers are involved in more than 400,000 accidents each year. These statistics are compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation that’s tasked with regulating the commercial trucking industry.
While the majority of trucking accidents are caused by driver error, sometimes the commercial driver isn’t the only one to blame. When trucking companies prioritize profit over public safety, horrific truck crashes can be the result.
If you think trucking company negligence caused or played a role in your Indianapolis accident, please contact one of our Indianapolis company negligence truck accident lawyers. You can learn about the legal recourse available to you during a free consultation with the team at Sevenish Law Firm, P.C.
Negligent Hiring Practices Among Trucking Companies
The FMCSA requires trucking companies to thoroughly vet drivers during the hiring process to ensure that they’re properly qualified to operate large—and potentially deadly—commercial vehicles. Trucking companies’ hiring best practices should confirm drivers have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL), clean driving and criminal records, and no health conditions that could make them a hazard to others on the road.
If a trucking company hires an unqualified driver who later causes a serious truck accident, the company could potentially be held liable for damages that arise from the driver’s unsafe conduct.
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Trucking companies are also required to provide commercial drivers with the training they need to operate their vehicles safely. However, demanding delivery deadlines and a shortage of qualified drivers may cause some companies to rush inexperienced drivers through bare-bones training courses or skip driver training altogether.
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Unreasonable Driver Schedules and Expectations
Trucking company profits depend largely on their drivers’ abilities to adhere to demanding pickup and delivery schedules. Companies that offer incentives or bonuses to drivers who make deliveries ahead of schedule may be unknowingly (or even knowingly) encouraging their drivers to violate the FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations, which limit how long a driver can work per shift and week, and mandates break and rest periods.
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Poorly Maintained Vehicles
FMCSA regulations require commercial drivers to thoroughly inspect their vehicles at the beginning and end of each shift and have any issues repaired promptly. Trucking companies are also expected to use staff or third-party contractors to perform regular vehicle inspections and repair any discovered maintenance issues before the truck goes back out on the road.
Unfortunately, unrealistic pickup and delivery schedules may cause some drivers to cut corners, skipping the required pre- and post-shift vehicle inspections. Trucking company representatives may also skip mandated vehicle inspections in the interest of completing pickup and delivery schedules faster. Even if a driver reports a maintenance issue, or the trucking company discovers a problem during one of its inspections, there’s no guarantee the truck will be taken out of service so the issue can be repaired in a timely fashion.
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In the interest of safety, employers have a duty to supervise their drivers once they’re hired and trained. When companies fail to screen drivers for drug and alcohol use both before and during employment, or turn a blind eye to drivers who have alcohol or substance abuse problems, they endanger everyone on the road.
Employers are also responsible for supervising their drivers to ensure their compliance with FMCSA regulations, such as hours-of-service and log-keeping requirements. Companies that fail to adequately supervise their drivers could potentially be held liable for damages that occur as a result of supervisory negligence.
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You deserve a law firm that treats you right after you get hurt in a truck accident. We are that firm.
What to Do After an Indianapolis Truck Accident Involving Company Negligence
As with any other collision, your first step should be to get treatment for your injuries. If you have been in a significant crash but do not have symptoms, get an evaluation right away from a medical professional. Some wounds, such as internal injuries, take time to develop noticeable symptoms. At that point, it might become a medical crisis.
Avoid saying anything unnecessary to other people at the accident scene. When people face the possibility of having to pay for the harm they caused, they might grasp at straws, including blaming you for the crash. An expression of sympathy could get twisted into an admission of fault.
Finally, put your claim in the hands of a personal injury attorney. Then, you can focus on getting better and putting your life back together. Our lawyer can provide additional guidance after a trucking negligence accident in Indianapolis, like advising you to stay off social media until your claim is resolved.
The Elements of Liability in Truck Crash Cases
It can be challenging to hold a trucking company accountable for its negligence, particularly because it was not at the scene of the collision in Indianapolis. Let’s run through a hypothetical scenario to illustrate how we would accomplish this goal.
- The trucking company has a legal duty to use competent hiring practices that prevent it from employing dangerous drivers. The company should perform background checks and get driving records of prospective employees or contractors before hiring them and putting them on the road.
- If the trucking company fails in this duty and that failure is responsible for an unsafe driver operating one of its big rigs, the trucking company is negligent. Let’s say the trucking company hired a driver whose license was suspended for multiple alcohol-related offenses. The company would have discovered this problem if it had checked the applicant’s driving record and background.
- The trucking company’s negligence must have directly caused or contributed to the collision. In our scenario, the truck got into a crash caused by the trucker’s alcohol impairment. The only reason the driver was on the road for the trucking company was because of its negligent hiring practices.
- You must have suffered measurable losses due to your injuries. The accident must have caused you to suffer measurable losses. Physical injuries count as quantifiable damages and satisfy this element.
We can seek compensation from the trucking company if we establish all four of these factors. Going after the trucking company does not preclude us from also seeking money damages from the truck driver for their negligence.
Do You Need an Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a truck accident that wasn’t your fault, you might be considering filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the commercial vehicle to seek compensation for medical bills and other related damages. However, in many truck crash cases, the driver isn’t the only avenue a victim can explore for compensation. If trucking company negligence caused or contributed to your accident, the company may be liable for damages.
Do you have questions about a potential truck accident case? Contact Sevenish Law Firm, P.C.’s Indianapolis law office today to schedule a free initial case analysis.