Unqualified Truckers Cause Accidents on the Road – an Attorney’s Perspective
In our 25 years of working for truck accident victims, we’ve seen a sharp rise in accidents involving “unqualified” drivers. Below, we’ll explain the different ways a commercial truck driver can be “unqualified,” and how proving it can be helpful to your case.
In this article, Texas truck accident attorney Michael Grossman discusses how unqualified drivers factor into truck accident cases.
Questions answered on this page:
- How do unqualified truckers get on the road in the first place?
- Is the trucking company responsible for having an unqualified driver?
- What makes a trucker unqualified?
- What does a driver’s qualifications have to do with my accident case?
- Do I need a lawyer to prove that a trucker wasn’t qualified?
What Makes a Driver “Unqualified”?
We use the term “unqualified” quite generally in our everyday language, as in, “X politician isn’t qualified to be president” or, “you’re not qualified to state an opinion on that subject.” In truck accident law, an unqualified driver is one without a commercial drivers license (“CDL”) or one who’s had their license suspended.
Becoming a truck driver requires candidates to undergo specific training. Among the lessons drivers must learn are:
- How to pre-trip check their trucks for potential problems, like fault brakes
- How to safely enter and exit roadways
- The proper use and alignment of the truck’s mirrors to avoid blind spots
- Proper lane change procedure
- Hours of service limits
- Regulations on substance abuse
- Emergency protocols
- Limitations on cell phone use while driving
While some of these might seem commonsensical to passenger car drivers, they’re entirely different matters indeed for driving an 80,000-pound vehicle that can top speeds of 80 miles-per-hour. Requiring drivers get and maintain their CDL, in other words, isn’t some formality or moneymaking scam by regulators and truck driving schools. It’s deadly serious business because 18-wheeler drivers who don’t know what they’re doing will inevitably cause roadway accidents.
Further, it’s not easy to lose your CDL once you’ve gotten it. That’s bad news because it means that a driver who was once qualified may not be anymore. In the cases we’ve seen, previously-certified drivers only lose their CDLs for the most flagrant and repeated abuses, like being caught driving over the hours-of-service requirements, substance abuse, doctoring their driver’s logs, or causing major accidents. These drivers are on the road for any number of reasons—he’s related to the boss, he just got his CDL taken away but still needs the money, the driver was “only going across town,” etc.
What an Unqualified Driver Means for Your 18-wheeler Accident Case.
From a legal perspective, if you’ve been hit by an 18-wheeler driven by an unqualified driver, you’ve got additional challenges and opportunities facing you:
- The bad news. You can bet all the money in the world that the driver who hit you doesn’t have anything approaching the personal assets you need. Suing him might get you a nice “paper judgment,” but outside of that, you won’t be able to collect any money from him. Plus, most insurance policies individual drivers carry are voided when the driver doesn’t have—or loses—his CDL. Insurance companies understandably don’t want to insure drivers who can’t make the barest qualifications. So, if the driver doesn’t have his CDL, there’s a good chance you won’t get anything out of him.
- The good news. Trucking companies know much better than anyone the dangerousness of unqualified drivers. Further, there are strict federal and state regulations against hiring and retaining drivers without valid CDLs. Because of this, you may have an excellent chance to file a negligent hiring and negligent retention claim against the trucking company that employed the driver.
In cases where trucking companies can be shown to have utilized unqualified drivers, the company will be held liable. Their insurance will have to kick in, and you stand a good chance at a full recovery. However, you can’t just walk into a courtroom and claim the trucker was unqualified and show the jury a pictured of an expired license. There’s a specific prove-up process to admit evidence, plus there are rules for filing documents in court. Any lawyer worth their salt will know how to get the right evidence in front of the jury and make sure that all the right documents are in order, so the trucking company doesn’t get off on a “technicality.”
It’s time to fight back for you, your family, and the general public.
Every serious truck accident is a tragedy, but it’s frankly enraging to find out that the driver who caused it had absolutely no business being on the road at all. Not only have you and your loved ones been hurt, but that guy needs to get taken off the road. Take a stand and say “No more!” Then call us at 855-326-0000, because we make it our business to keep unqualified truckers off our roads.
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