Can Truck Drivers Be Fired for Causing Accidents?August 20, 2021
Truckers Can Be Fired After Crashes, But They May Not Be. Here’s Why.
Yes, causing a wreck can be grounds for motor carriers to fire truckers or terminate contracts with independent contractors (ICs). In fact, a single 18-wheeler wreck can be enough to get the pink slip from a trucking company.
Nevertheless, that does not mean a big rig accident will automatically result in termination for truckers. The reality is that, after a tractor-trailer accident, most motor carriers tend to decide whether to keep or terminate truckers based on the answers to a few key questions.
Will I Get Fired After Causing an 18-Wheeler Accident? 3 Questions to Answer
Here are the issues that motor carriers will focus on as they determine whether a trucker or IC should be terminated for causing a crash.
1. Who Was Primarily at Fault for the Big Rig Wreck?
While a trucker may have been partly to blame, (s)he may not have been the party who was most at fault for causing the truck accident. Police reports and follow-up investigations can help answer this question, revealing when other motorists — or even parties like shippers or loading dock workers — may share fault for a crash.
In these cases, trucking companies may take a defensive position, keeping the trucker on staff and defending him or her in an 18-wheeler accident claim. However, the chances of getting fired go up if a trucker was mostly at fault for causing the crash.
2. What Exactly Did the Trucker Do to Contribute to the Tractor-Trailer Accident?
When certain types of negligence may have been involved, truckers and ICs are more likely to face termination after an 18-wheeler accident. Specifically, this negligence can include:
- Trucker impairment: Alcohol 790or drug intoxication can be automatic grounds for termination because most trucking companies have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to trucker intoxication. In fact, whether or not trucker impairment causes a wreck, it can be grounds to be fired on the spot with most motor carriers.
- Traffic violations: Running red lights and speeding are a couple of examples of preventable negligence that can cause truck wrecks. When these and other violations of traffic laws are involved in a crash, motor carriers will tend to think twice about keeping risky truckers on the payroll. That’s especially true if truckers have several traffic violations on their record or if their commercial driver’s license (CDL) is revoked after a crash.
- Violations of trucking regulations: Federal trucking regulations pertain to everything from big rig inspections and cargo securement to driving time limits, the transport of hazardous materials, and a whole lot more. Failures to comply with these regulations can put truckers and motor carriers under fire — both with regulators and with victims of big rig wrecks. Additionally, while these violations may be enough to get truckers terminated, they can also linger on truckers’ driving records and be a future bar to getting hired.
- Violations of motor carriers’ policies: Traffic laws and federal regulations aren’t the only rules truckers need to follow. They will also have to comply with trucking company policies and procedures. These can cover everything from recordkeeping and training to essential safety protocols. When truckers’ failures to abide by these policies is a factor in causing a wreck, motor carriers may not want to keep those drivers around in the future.
- Failures to avoid preventable crashes: If a trucker could have avoided a wreck by paying more attention or being more careful, his or her job can be on the line when that accident has resulted in serious injuries, regulatory investigations, negative publicity for a motor carrier, and/or expensive property damage for the motor carrier.
3. What Does the Trucker’s Driving Record Look Like?
Motor carriers can be more apt to forgive truckers for a first-time crash when their driving records are spotless (and the accident didn’t involve certain forms of negligence). A driving record filled with prior accidents, however, can be enough for trucking companies to terminate drivers who cause yet another accident.
When Truckers Cause Wrecks: The Bottom Line
With crashes caused by truckers, the bottom line is that the details surrounding the 18-wheeler accident and the driver’s record matter. Although big rig crashes can result in truckers being terminated by motor carriers, it’s critical to remember that liability determinations are complex — and that insurance companies, trucking companies, and others do not always get these fault findings correct.