Can trucking companies be liable for negligent hiring and supervision?
Accidents happen in the blink of an eye. But their effects can last a lifetime, especially when a semi-truck or tractor-trailers are involved. When trucking companies put drivers on the road, they have a responsibility to the public to practice due diligence in properly training and supervising their employees.
If a trucking company does not take reasonable care to properly supervise its employees or hire safe drivers, they may be held liable for additional damages and compensation to truck accident victims. Such cases can also be confusing for truck drivers in Georgia who are improperly trained and cause an accident.
What is negligent supervision?
Negligent supervision is the failure of an employer or company to properly oversee its employees. It occurs when the company does not use sufficient care to manage the training and actions of employees. Negligent supervision is the legal term for the financial liability that the employer may have for failing to appropriately supervise and train their employees.
How do I know if I am the victim of negligent supervision?
Determining if you are the victim of negligent supervision depends on a legal term called “reasonableness.” An employer must act in a reasonable manner to select, train and oversee workers. What meets the standard of reasonableness is an individual determination for the specific circumstances.
Because trucking is a dangerous industry, a trucking company must provide a high level of training and oversight for its workers. If a truck accident occurs, there should be a holistic review of the entire set of circumstances to determine if negligent supervision played a role.
Examples of negligent hiring truck drivers
There is not one specific behavior that meets the standard for negligent hiring and retention of truck drivers. Instead, there are a number of ways that a company may fail to appropriately train and manage its workers. Some examples include:
- Not inquiring into an applicant’s driving record to determine if they are fit to drive a commercial vehicle
- Failing to periodically review driving records appropriately to know if an individual has engaged in poor driving behaviors in the past
- Allowing individuals to make complaints about drivers without following up to see if they are unsafe on the roads
- Neglecting to keep a log of incidents and complaints
- Having drivers secure their own loads without proper training or assistance
- Requiring drivers to work too many hours without appropriate rest
- Encouraging drivers to maximize their miles on the road at the expense of safety
- Failing to terminate a driver who exhibits unsafe behaviors
- Not requiring workers to take adequate measures in response to indications of unsafe conditions
- Allowing drivers to choose their own routes without regard for training and experience
Any set of circumstances may amount to negligent supervision if the employer acts below the standard of reasonable conduct. The legal standard for what is reasonable is a minimum standard. In other words, the employer must meet at least that level in order to be in compliance with the law. If they act unreasonably, they are responsible to the victim for damages.
How to bring a negligent supervision complaint
When a truck accident victim believes that they are the victim of negligent hiring or supervision, they must bring a claim in order to receive compensation. When these claims are brought by a regular motorist who was driving for personal reasons (not for work), it is generally brought in civil court. A civil negligent supervision complaint is brought by the individual on their own behalf, therefore the victim may enlist help from an attorney who specializes in negligent supervision complaints.
In the claim, the plaintiff states the compensation that they believe they deserve under the law. In Georgia, for example, the law requires the responsible party to bear the financial impact of the accident rather than the victim themselves. If the plaintiff successfully proves their case, the defendant (the trucking company) must compensate the victim for medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering damages.
How to prove negligent hiring truck drivers
When proving negligent hiring of truck drivers, some forms of evidence may include:
- Witness testimony from those involved (including the driver)
- Employee and personnel policies
- Employment records
- Information about prior incidents and how the company handled them
- Time logs to show when and where driving occurred
- Accident reconstruction animations in order to explain how the accident occurs
- Vehicle maintenance laws
- Photos of damages and the accident scene itself
- Medical experts to explain damages
- Work history for the victim in order to justify their lost wages and lost future income
- Information about the severity of the accident and the pain and suffering endured by the victim
Getting fair compensation for negligent supervision
Negligent supervision is one example of negligence in Georgia tort law. If you are the victim of negligent hiring, retention or supervision, you may deserve financial compensation. When an employer fails to supervise their employees appropriately in a dangerous industry, they are more open to legal liability.
Generally, truckers who are involved in a truck accident case and the subject of a negligent supervision or hiring complaint are protected from personal liability due to Georgia’s respondeat superior (Latin for “Let the superior answer”) laws. Basically, this means that ultimately the trucking company is liable for the accident victim’s damages.
However, such cases can quickly be complicated by individual factors that led to the truck accident. It often helps to consult with an experienced Georgia work injury attorney if you have questions about liability and your legal rights to compensation.