By Adam Danielson, Sales and Business Development Director, SuperVision
Liability associated to fleet-related crashes is the cause of budget-busting payouts and other less tangible headaches, such as damaged public perception.
The first in a 3 part series that examines real life liability cases that stemmed from fleets not properly monitoring their drivers.
Liability for an unlicensed truck driver
On November 30th, 2000, a woman was tragically killed by a moving truck while walking in the common area of an apartment complex behind her home in Dallas. The truck was owned by a moving company, and operated by that company employee. It was alleged in the ensuing wrongful death lawsuit that not only did the employee not have a commercial driver’s license, he also did not have training or experience in driving a vehicle of such size.
The victim’s son sought wrongful death damages on behalf of the estate. He sued the employee for negligent operation of a motor vehicle. He also sued the moving company for negligent hiring, training, supervision and entrustment. He alleged that the company should not have allowed the employee to drive the truck because he lacked training, experience, and a commercial driver’s license.
The parties settled for $825,000 after the company made the decision not to defend the case. The charge that its allegedly unlicensed and untrained driver had caused the death of the 91-year-old woman, was deemed too risky to go to trial. Don’t let this happen to you.
Ignorance is not an excuse, especially when it comes to risky drivers and results in dangerous outcomes. According to conventional wisdom, pulling a driver’s motor vehicle record (MVR) once a year is “good enough” to identify if a driver is risky, but is this actually enough? The short answer is no. In fact, pulling their MVR only one time per year means risky drivers can go unnoticed for a long period of time, which raises the fleet’s risk profile and potential for a costly liability claim. In addition, not knowing what violations are on a driver’s license may lead to claims of negligent hiring and possibly negligent entrustment.
Continuous MVR Monitoring
Drivers not maintaining a valid license present an ongoing safety risk for companies which can lead to costly liability claims. Fleets and companies have an obligation to ensure their drivers are properly licensed. They also must monitor their drivers’ behavior and take immediate, corrective action for any violation that a driver accrues. A once-a-year MVR pull is not enough. For these situations, continuous MVR monitoring is one of the best precautions that a company can take to prepare for potentially defending themselves in a liability lawsuit.
A continuous MVR monitoring program allows managers to address driver behavior and ongoing performance issues as they occur. The program will alert a fleet manager immediately of any changes to a driver’s eligibility. This allows managers to mitigate their company’s risk if an infraction occurs or if a driver’s license is revoked.
In combination with a fleet safety program and other behavioral monitoring tools, continuous MVR monitoring is ideal for fleet managers to effectively monitor drivers’ risk profiles, ensure compliance and safety, reduce liability, and scale down business losses.