In California, truck accidents are a far more frequent occurrence than they should be, especially as truck drivers are under immense pressure to get their products to their final destination on time. This pressure and the strict time limits can cause some truck drivers to engage in risky and even illegal behaviors, including violating the hours of service rules. However, if a truck driver does cause an accident, the carriers, shippers and brokers also could potentially be held liable.
Brokers are intermediate companies that connect product manufacturers to trucking companies. The brokers often try to keep their costs as low as possible, causing them to occasionally choose smaller companies that may have poor safety records. If a major accident does occur, the trucking company may go out of business and take precautions to immunize themselves from the potential personal injury claims that the accident may spur. In these cases, the broker that hired the trucking company may potentially be held liable.
Brokers and shippers in the state of California do have the ability to look at trucking companies' safety records. If they hire companies that have repeated violations on their safety records, the brokers or shippers could be held liable under the theory of negligent hiring. While these companies may try to argue that they are not liable, the plaintiff could put forth evidence that the companies were aware that the truck drivers they were hiring were not safe.
Negligent truckers are more likely to cause serious truck accidents, which could cause injuries and even fatalities for all those who were involved. In addition to filing a claim against the truck driver and his or her employer, a personal injury attorney may have evidence showing that the broker or shipper was responsible for hiring the trucking company even if there were records showing gross violations and unsafe driving.