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Can a Truck Driver Be Fired for an Accident?
Each year, more than 4,000 people are killed in truck accidents—and the likelihood of severe injury or death in a commercial truck accident is significantly higher than the likelihood of serious injury in a crash with another vehicle. Even the most highly-rated passenger vehicle is no match in a collision with a fully-loaded commercial truck like a tractor-trailer, tanker truck, dump truck, or flatbed truck.
Many collisions occur due to trucker error—these vehicles are heavy, have long stopping distances, and don’t maneuver as quickly as smaller vehicles. But how many accidents does it take before a trucker is likely to be fired? Can a trucker cause injury and then go back to the job? Below, we explain more about the situations in which a truck driver may be fired after an accident.
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When Are Truck Drivers Fired After an Accident?
The most common situation in which a truck driver is likely to be fired after an accident is when the accident is entirely the truck driver’s fault and has caused death, serious injury, or extensive property damage. Even if the driver wasn’t engaging in any illegal or negligent behavior in these situations, the risk of trucking company liability could be high enough that the company will no longer want to keep the driver on its payroll.
Some other situations in which a truck driver might be fired after an accident include:
- The truck driver was under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs at the time of the accident.
- The truck driver didn’t promptly report the accident to their employer.
- The truck driver was found to be violating federal trucking regulations (like exceeding the maximum number of hours on the road or falsifying travel logs)
- The truck driver lied about their qualifications or commercial driver’s license status.
Essentially, if an accident was the truck driver’s fault or the truck driver is revealed to be lying about a crucial aspect of their employment, the trucking company is likely to decide that the risk of continuing to employ this person is too high.
Why Might a Truck Driver Not Be Fired?
Truck drivers involved in relatively minor accidents that don’t cause injury aren’t likely to be fired. Truck drivers might also avoid losing their job if the accident occurred due to someone else’s negligence—either the injured driver’s or another entity like the loading company, the truck manufacturer, the repair shop or mechanic, or even the government (for road conditions).
What Types of Truck Accidents are Most Common?
Some of the most common examples of serious truck accidents include:
- Under-ride truck accidents. This happens when a vehicle rolls underneath a tractor-trailer and can often cause serious or fatal head and neck injuries.
- Jack-knife truck accidents. When a tractor-trailer tries to take a curve too quickly or has to swerve to avoid another vehicle, the cab and trailer can fold onto each other—trapping other vehicles in the gap, careening across the highway, striking other vehicles, or tipping over.
- Side-impact truck accidents. These accidents are most common at stoplights, stop signs, and other intersections. When a truck strikes a vehicle from the side, it can cause serious injuries or even death.
- Cargo truck accidents. Cargo accidents occur when a cargo load falls onto the roadway or injures those attempting to unload it.
- Head-on truck accidents. When a truck strikes a car head-on, the force of the truck—mass and velocity—is transferred into the car, causing catastrophic injuries.
- Rear-end truck accidents. Fully-loaded trucks can take several football fields to stop, which means that a one- or two-second delay in reaction time can easily result in a collision.
- Rollover truck accidents. Tractor-trailers have a much higher profile than other vehicles, making them a tipping hazard in high winds or during inclement weather.
- Tire blowouts. Commercial truck tires can lose large chunks of tread without missing a beat, but running into these strips of tread in your car can increase the risk of an accident and cause damage to your vehicle.
Sometimes, a commercial truck collision may include more than one of these categories.
What Truck Accident Injuries are Most Common?
The severity of injuries suffered in a commercial truck accident will often dictate whether the truck driver will be fired.
Some types of injuries that are fire-worthy include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Internal bleeding
Some truck accident injuries may be permanent, while others can require months or even years of recovery.
What Damages Are Available After a Truck Accident?
The larger your potential damages award, the more likely the trucking company will fire the driver responsible. Therefore, it’s good to hire a truck accident attorney to ensure you get the maximum compensation available. Often, it’s tough to assess the damages you’ve suffered while you’re still seeking treatment; your truck accident attorney can work closely with you to analyze the value of your claim to help you understand what you can receive financial compensation for if you file a trucking accident claim.
General damages are also called non-economic damages and include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium. Finally, special damages are specific, tangible losses.
Some of the special damages that may be available to a truck accident victim include:
- Medical costs for medical attention, physical therapy, or other hospital bills
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Vehicle damage
- Other property damage
- Loss of companionship (for spouses)
If a truck accident kills someone, the surviving family members can bring a wrongful death action on the victim’s behalf, potentially recovering most of the overhead costs plus final medical and funeral expenses.
Who is Liable in a Truck Crash?
Large truck crashes are different from other car accidents because they’re larger and can cause serious injuries. They are also more complex because there are multiple parties involved who could be liable for any damages you might sustain. It’s no longer just the truck driver who may be at fault. If you want to navigate truck crash liability, from large companies to third-party brokers and manufacturers, you’ll need an experienced truck crash lawyer at your side.
After a Truck Crash, Who Deals with the Insurance Companies?
It is always your right to have a lawyer communicate with insurance companies on your behalf. A truck accident lawyer can also deal with your insurance company and address the company should they attempt a truck accident claim before accident investigations are complete.
Insurance companies know the injured party can be vulnerable after an accident, especially when a financial cost is connected with extensive injuries or property damage. However, they also count on most people not being familiar with liability and negligence laws.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation that only a truck accident attorney can help you recover. At The Ferraro Law Firm, we’re focused on each client’s case and will use all our resources to ensure you have the most robust representation possible.
Our team of experienced lawyers has a consistent track record of fighting for fair compensation for the victims of truck accidents. At The Ferraro Law Firm, we understand the lasting impact and extensive types of damages that can arise from a commercial trucking accident.
To schedule your free consultation, call 888-554-2030 or just fill out our free case consultation form, and a member of our team of lawyers will soon be in touch.
Frequently Asked Questions: Truck Accidents
Do truck drivers get fired for accidents?
Not necessarily. Each trucking company has different policies. However, if the truck driver was impaired or broke other traffic laws before the accident, they may be fired for that reason.
What are the most common causes of semi-truck accidents?
Truckers spend long hours on the road, and driving while tired, speeding, and driving while distracted tend to be the most common causes of truck accidents.
How long can you expect a truck accident lawsuit to last?
Most lawsuits last between a few months and a few years. The more complex a lawsuit is, the longer it may take.