Amtrak and CSX Sue Trucking Company in North Carolina Derailment
Charlotte, NC Personal Injury Lawyer
In March of this year, a train collided with a truck that was stopped on the tracks in Halifax, N.C., injuring 55 people. Witnesses indicated that the truck sat on the tracks for quite a while before the train plowed through, and that it was accompanied by a pair of privately owned escort vehicles as well as a state highway patrol trooper. Amtrak and CSX, which were the railroads involved in the accident, filed a lawsuit against the trucking company. The lawsuit alleges that the train collided with the truck because neither rail companies were notified that it was sitting at the rail crossing. According to the lawsuit, the trucking company and the driver were liable because they failed to check out the route beforehand and notify the railroad companies of its situation. The lawsuit claims that the trucking company was negligent in hiring an incompetent driver that had a history of safety violations and failing to adequately train and supervise him.
Liability in Hiring and Retaining Drivers
Trucking companies must be careful in hiring truck drivers. They have to exercise due diligence in finding out if a potential employee has a history of negative conduct, from which a company may infer that he or she is not qualified for the position. When a trucking company knows or should have known that the candidate has a negative job history and yet hires him or her to be a driver, the company may be liable for negligent hiring if an accident occurs because of the driver’s conduct on the road.
Similarly, truck companies must be careful in retaining drivers and ensure that they continue to drive safely on the roads. Satisfying this duty of due care may involve regular alcohol and drug testing, reviewing driver logs or inspection reports for accuracy, providing skill and safety training, and imposing consequences on drivers for violating safety rules or falsifying log book entries. If a company knows that a driver on its payroll is no longer safe or competent to remain as a driver but fails to terminate him or her, it may be liable for negligent retention if somebody is injured as a result of an accident caused by that driver.
Screening Potential Truck Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promulgates regulations that contain protocols for hiring truck drivers. These protocols include checking a driver’s motor vehicle record and complete background checks, including contacting previous employers. The FMCSA has a pre-employment screening program that allows carriers, drivers, and industry service providers access to commercial drivers’ safety records. These records contain a driver’s most recent five years of crash data and the most recent three years of roadside inspection data from the FMCSA database. According to FMCSA, companies utilizing the screening have reduced their crash rates by 8% and their driver out-of-service rates by 17%.
FMCSA mandates that trucking companies maintain a “driver qualification” file. As part of that file, they are required to review and document an applicant’s prior driver’s licenses, prior experience, all accidents during the prior three years and any injuries caused, all traffic tickets for the past three years, all prior license suspensions, and all prior employers for the last three years and the driver’s reason for leaving each employer.
Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law
The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability. We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly. Call 877-BICE-877 today or submit an online request to get a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.