The family of a New Mexico woman fatally struck by a tractor-trailer successfully proved to a jury that the truck driver did not have sufficient training to operate his assigned rig. After a two-week trial, the jury determined that the transportation company that hired the driver through its subsidiary was responsible for the wrongful death.
According to the complaint, the newly hired truck driver’s on-the-job training totaled only eight days when he crashed head-on into the woman’s 2012 Honda Pilot. The fatal impact occurred after the tractor-trailer crossed through four lanes on Interstate 10 and hit a paved concrete median.
New driver sent out alone with loaded rig in spite of insufficient training
As reported by FreightWaves, the tractor-trailer operator was still receiving training as a student driver when the fatal collision occurred. The suit claimed his trainer did not monitor him adequately. He reportedly drove 64% of the time unsupervised during his training.
The company’s training program required the supervisor to monitor a student driver for at least 30 hours and also prohibited drivers in training from operating a tractor-trailer unsupervised. The company, however, sent the new driver out on the road hauling a truckload of goods when he did not have enough training to know how to respond to changing road conditions.
Jury found in favor of the family
The New Mexico jury reached a verdict awarding the family damages of more than $40 million. The verdict sends a strong message regarding a company’s negligence in hiring drivers and placing them on the road alone with insufficient training.
A transportation company owes a duty of care to all vehicles and drivers that share the public roads and highways with its commercial truckers. When a company fails to adequately monitor its new drivers’ training progress, it may face a legal action for each injury, death and accident that results from its poorly-trained operators.