When the accident call comes in, we evaluate the initial facts and respond as need. An independent adjuster is dispatched. An accident recon is engaged. Everyone is in accident response mode.
In today’s hyper-litigious, TV advertising, “hit-a-truck-get-a-check” world, the accident is just one part of the equation. Those who sue our industry set their sights beyond the facts of what happened.
Many cases now involve claims focusing on your hiring, training, and supervision of the driver. What are these claims and who do they impact your company?
Sequentially, the first is “negligent hiring”. This claim alleges that prior to hiring the driver, you knew or should have known that the driver was unfit. This claims focuses on the driver’s background—primarily MVR and accident history.
The second claim is “negligent training”. Upon hiring the driver, it is claimed that you failed to train the driver so that he could safely do his job.
The third allegation is of “negligent supervision”. In this claim, the allegation is you failed to monitor, correct, and improve the operation of the driver to ensure that the job duties were safely performed.
Plaintiffs suing your company often try to parlay these actions into claims for punitive damages. These claims must allege more than mere negligence. Instead, they must prove that your conduct amounted to “intentional, willful, wanton, or reckless conduct.
The intent of punitive damages is to punish egregious conduct and deter such conduct in the future. As such, they are frequently not covered by insurance, either per the policy language or by state law.
For these reasons, claims of your hiring, training, and supervision must be addressed, before the accident occurs. Next week we’ll look at the strategies for establishing a defense against these claims.
For additional information, see my blog post at TRUCK NEWS, http://www.trucknews.com/author/doug/