Trucking Companies Face $1 Billion Verdict for Lack of Pre-Employment Screening

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A Florida Court has now reached a verdict of $1 billion dollars against two trucking companies in the case of a 2017 death of an 18-year old student. This enormous sentence takes into account the fact that one of the two trucking companies had performed virtually no screening before employing one of the truckers involved in the accident.

Officials had reported that this accident occurred on Labor Day Weekend, 2017 when the young university student was traveling south down I-95. The student was suddenly stopped due to traffic caused by a trucking accident further down the road.

Investigators have alleged that this trucker was using a cell phone while driving, working well past the legal limit on hours, and perhaps most shockingly of all, was not even in possession of a commercial driver’s license at the time of the accident.

More than one hour after this accident, while the victim was stuck in traffic, another distracted trucker working for a separate company sped down the road on cruise control set to a speed of 70 mph. This trucker collided with the line of backed-up traffic, killing the victim. Reports from investigators have stated that the data recorder in the vehicle indicates this trucker did not even attempt to brake until less than a second before the accident.

Now, after hearing days of testimony, the jury, in this case, has given a verdict distributing $100 million to the parents of the victim for their suffering and $900 million of punitive damages to the company that caused the initial accident.

The investigation after the accident indicated that the company employing this driver had ignored most laws and responsibilities for screening their employees to hire safe drivers. This involved no investigation into the driver’s fitness to work as a commercial driver before employing them. 

If the company had performed even a rudimentary background check, they would have found that in addition to lacking qualifications as a commercial driver, this employee had multiple previous violations for aggressive driving and speeding. The other driver was incapable of reading English which is a legal requirement for road safety which makes sense given the numerous road signs police had set up to alert drivers to the accident ahead. 

This case should serve as a strong reminder to employers, about $1 billion worth, that they are often legally responsible for the actions of their employees. If a court determines that due diligence was not performed in hiring an employee and an accident occurs, or even worse, intentional wrongdoing, you may be on the line for large fines and compensation.