Can A Truck Driver Be Fired For An Accident?
A truck driver can be fired for causing an accident. This depends on the company the driver works for and the severity of the accident. Driving a commercial truck requires a certain level of training and experience to operate safely on the road. Commercial trucks can weigh up to 30 times more than passenger cars, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). When they collide with a smaller vehicle, the consequences can be catastrophic or even deadly.
If driver error caused your truck accident, the driver may face termination. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean a truck driver will be fired for causing an accident. Whether a truck driver is fired after an accident depends on several variables.
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What Are the Circumstances of the Truck Accident?
Truck drivers are subject to more scrutiny (and potential penalties) than regular drivers because of the increased responsibility that comes with driving such a large vehicle. Accordingly, the circumstances of the accident will play a large role in determining whether the truck driver is fired or not.
Truck accidents almost always cause injuries, which means law enforcement will arrive on the scene and file an accident report. If the accident report finds the truck driver was at fault for the accident, the trucker can receive a citation and points on their commercial driver’s license (CDL). If the truck driver accumulates too many points and/or citations, the state can suspend or revoke their license.
If the truck driver can no longer perform their duties, they will likely lose their job. Or the trucking company’s insurance carrier may decide they can no longer insure the truck driver due to the accumulation of points on their license, the company could fire the driver.
Was the Truck Driver Negligent in Causing the Accident?
A truck driver can be found at fault for an accident for violating vehicle code or driving negligently. If it can be proven the truck driver was negligent and that negligence caused the accident, it could increase the likelihood they will lose their job.
Examples of truck driver negligence include:
- Driving at excessively high rates of speed
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving aggressively or recklessly (road rage)
- Falling asleep at the wheel (driver fatigue)
Commercial truck drivers work long hours and are subject to driver fatigue. Trucking companies and their drivers must follow hours of service (HOS) regulations per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If a driver or their company violates these hours of service, both could face penalties, and the driver could face temporary or permanent termination.
Was the Driver Part of a Union or a Private Contractor?
Some truck drivers are private contractors, while others are union members. In the case of unionized drivers, the procedure and circumstances for firing a driver after an accident will be determined by the collective bargaining agreement between the trucker’s union and the trucking company.
Typically, collectively bargained contracts make firing a unionized driver after an accident more difficult than firing a privately contracted driver. That’s because firing a union driver requires several steps and disciplinary hearings prior to dismissal.
In addition to the circumstances of the accident and the severity of injuries involved, the terms of the driver’s employment will also play a role in determining whether they lose their job.
Can I Receive Compensation If the Driver Keeps Their Job?
Regardless of whether the driver is fired, if they were working for the trucking company when the accident happened, the trucking company is responsible for their actions. This is known under the legal doctrine “respondeat superior”, meaning an employer is legally liable for their employee’s actions.
The law allows you to seek recoverable damages from the trucking company after one of their drivers hits you while they are on the job. Examples of the recoverable damages you can seek after a truck accident include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medical expenses (current and future)
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Repair or replacement cost of your damaged vehicle
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of activities
If you lost a loved one in a negligent truck accident, please accept our deepest sympathies. You may be entitled to additional damages in a wrongful death action. This could include your family member’s medical bills prior to their passing and funeral and burial expenses.