The [commercial trucking industry] employs millions of Americans each year, many as drivers for tractor-trailers and semi-trucks. However, working is a commercial trucker is not easy. In addition to working a demanding schedule that sometimes requires long hours on the road to cover thousands of miles, commercial truck drivers are also tasked with operating machinery that is remarkably larger – both in size and weight – than the average automobile.
Commercial Trucking Regulations
Given the sheer size and weight of these vehicles, it’s easy to see how any accident involving a commercial truck could have severe consequences. That’s why both the state-federal governments have established a wide variety of regulations for the commercial trucking industry. Such laws are intended to maximize safety for all drivers and include guidelines specific to:
- Quality control of trucks
- Hazardous waste
- Maximum weight permitted
- Rest for the driver
- Commercial driver licenses
Regulations for commercial trucking are strictly enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and extend to all companies and drivers in the business of owning a commercial license.
Although both the FMCSA and DOT require commercial trucking entities to follow these laws, many don’t. This typically boils down to one thing – making a profit. For example, there are companies that will not encourage a driver to take adequate rest breaks because it cuts down on delivery time.
Similarly, there are companies that will not ensure that drivers have the necessary qualifications before allowing them to get behind the wheel.
Negligent Hiring in Commercial Trucking
When a company fails to properly vet driver candidates, it can create an incredibly dangerous situation. That’s why it’s referred to as negligent hiring. A trucking organization could face accusations of negligence if they hired someone who:
- Lacked the proper training
- Did not possess a commercial driver’s license
- Had substance abuse issues
- Had certain psychological or medical problems
- Had a previous DUI/DWI arrest
- Had a poor driving record, including a history of accidents or moving violations
Unfortunately, many companies that practice negligent hiring don’t consider the consequences until it is too late – usually when an accident has raised concerns over liability.
Why a Commercial Driver’s License Matters
Every commercial driver regardless of the state resides or are employed in, is required to secure a commercial driver’s license before they can lawfully anything considered a commercial vehicle. This includes semi-trucks and tractor-trailers.
Under existing federal law, anyone wishing to obtain a commercial driver’s license must first secure a commercial learner’s permit. If the driver is only planning to drive within state lines, or intrastate, they can begin the process when they are 18 years of age.
However, anyone wishing to drive across the state and international borders must be at least 21 before they can be granted a commercial driver’s license.
However, a commercial driver’s license is not the only requirement for commercial truckers. Drivers must also have the necessary experience, as well as a clean driving record. Individuals that have been arrested or cited for violations like driving under the influence (DUI) may be considered ineligible for a commercial driver’s license.
Even if a driver has never been convicted of a DUI, they may still be considered ineligible for a commercial driver’s license. Those who have been cited for repeated moving violations or other traffic incidents could also be deemed ineligible. However, depending on the severity, the [disqualification] may only span a short period of time.
When a company fails to conduct the necessary background checks, they automatically open themselves up to liability. For example, a company that hired a driver without looking into his record, only to discover that he had been convicted of multiple DUIs, would be considered negligent in the event of an auto accident.
Trucking Accident Attorneys in Houston
If you have been injured in a commercial trucking accident and suspect that negligence may have played a role, you may have grounds to pursue a personal injury claim, which can aid the recovery of compensation and other damages. This will require the guidance of an attorney specializing in personal injury law.
That’s where the legal team at Charles J. Argento can help. Our office, based in Houston, Texas, specializes in a wide variety of personal injury matters, including situations involving commercial trucks. Our highly skilled Houston truck accident attorneys can work with you to conduct an in-depth investigation into your injury-causing accident and determine if negligence was a factor.
We have seen firsthand the critical impact that negligence can have on someone’s life. As your legal advocate, we will work to guarantee that your interests, both now and in the future, are protected.