A 2015 article by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012, “Truck drivers experienced higher than average rates of both fatal injuries and nonfatal injuries and illnesses compared with all private industry occupations.” With the hazards that truck drivers face on and off the road, many wonder if truck drivers can get fired for accidents, says a professional truck accident lawyer in Phoenix, Saavedra Law Firm.
Do Commercial Truck Drivers Get Fired for Accidents?
This may sound harsh but commercial truck drivers could get fired for accidents, but usually not without due evaluation of the severity of the accident and the extent to which the driver is at fault. According to Integrity Network Insurance Group, LLC, accidents could serve as grounds for termination if the driver were found out to be guilty of one or more of the following:
1. Avoidable accidents
Some accidents are inevitable while some accidents are avoidable. Minor collisions that result in zero to minimal damages to truck and/or property, such as hitting road signs and low bridges, fall under this category. Committing one avoidable accident may save you from termination but frequent at-fault avoidable accidents are enough grounds for a truck driver to get fired.
2. Damage to client property
Damage to client property leaves a bad impression not only of the driver but of the trucking company in general. In such an instance, the company would have to decide whether they are more willing to lose an employee or a client.
3. Non-adherence to rules and procedures
Every employee in any company is expected to adhere to company rules and procedures, and non-adherence is enough basis for termination; more so if it results in accidents, damages to property, and/or other similar occurrences. Worse, neglect of rules and procedures damages your employment record and could result in not getting hired again by another employee.
4. Driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated
Driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated poses a great threat to lives and properties, and is almost a guarantee to get a driver fired from the company, especially if it causes damage or death. This could also lead a driver to go to jail and pay fines depending on the severity of the accident.
5. Distracted driving
Driving distractedly such as using the cellphone, eating and watching videos could lead to accidents and is enough basis for termination from a trucking company.
Drivers, not only commercial truck drivers, at one point or another, may experience road rage, but if you resort to violence in the occurrence of an accident, whether or not you are at fault, you could lose your job.
What Happens When Commercial Truck Drivers Get into Accidents?
In most cases, figuring in an accident does not result in the immediate termination of employment. Instead, it calls for an investigation to be conducted by the company, its insurance provider, and in most instances, the police.
According to trucking resource website AllTrucking.com, there are two basic procedures when assessing a truck driver’s responsibility in the occurrence of an accident:
1. Assessing fault and tickets
The first thing that the police and the insurance company investigate is which among the involved parties is at fault. In the occasion that both parties are responsible for the accident, the investigators assess the percentage of blame that is placed on either driver.
If it had been proven that you are partially or fully to blame for an accident, you may be awarded a ticket and get fined for it.
In cases where the accident results in severe damage, injury, and/or death, a driver could be taken to court to face a much graver sentence.
2. Drug and alcohol testing
Testing positive for drugs and/or alcohol could lead to immediate dismissal from the company, especially if it causes an accident of any severity. It is a common procedure for trucking companies to test drivers that figure in accidents whether or not they are found to be responsible for the mishap.
In the instance that a driver tests negative for drugs and/or alcohol, the driver proceeds to the next step of the investigation, which is assigning a penalty corresponding to the level of blame assigned to the driver.
How Could Commercial Truck Drivers Keep Their Job?
Trucking companies understand that the nature of their industry comes with a great number of risks and hazards, especially when the job involves long-haul drives. Given the late hours and the lengthy drives, accidents are almost inevitable. So, how could commercial truck drivers keep their job given the circumstances?
1. Drive safely.
This is a cliché but it is one for good reason. Keeping a history of safe driving will give your employer room for understanding and consideration if and when you get in an accident.
2. Obey traffic rules and company procedures.
Just as with the first item, a clean driving record leaves a good impression, and would more likely earn you the favor of your employer in case the inevitable happens.
3. Practice honesty and integrity.
If you’re caught in an accident, do not yield to the temptation of covering up your responsibility. Instead, communicate honestly and practice integrity.