Trucker Shortage a Real Risk for El Paso Motorists
USA Today recently reported the trucker shortage has companies scrambling to find qualified drivers and deliver an ever-increasing amount of freight on time and under budget.
Trucking firms are offering hiring bonuses of up to $8,000 as well as promising more money by the mile and more time at home in an effort to lure more long-distance truck drivers.
Inexperience Leads to Fatal Truck Accidents in Texas
The American Trucker Association reports an immediate need for an additional 50,000 commercial drivers to operate the nation's 4 million heavy freight trucks. That shortage is expected to grow to 174,000 with the retirement of truckers over the next 7 years.
However, independent truckers maintain there are plenty of safe, experienced owner-operator drivers, but large trucking companies don't want to pay a living wage. Instead, those firms choose to hire novice drivers for low pay. The average pay is $50,000 to $60,000 a year and turnover in the industry is notoriously high.
The trucker shortage is creating serious risks for motorists for a number of reasons beyond inexperienced drivers. Fatigued drivers may be tempted or pressured to violate federal hours-of-service rules, which are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to limit driving time.
Liability in El Paso Trucking Collisions
The complexities of trucking accident cases are a primary reason to consult a law firm experienced in handling litigation involving commercial drivers. These are highly involved cases, typically with defendants including multiple out-of-state corporations and insurance companies.
Commercial drivers are also subject to state and federal laws aimed at reducing distracted driving. Trucking companies continue to be held vicariously liable for the actions of drivers. Just this month, DC Velocity reports affirmation of a staggering $165 million jury award against FedEx after one of the company's trucks slammed into a pickup truck following slow traffic along Interstate 10 in El Paso. A woman died along with her 4-year-old daughter. Her 19-month-old son was also in the vehicle, but survived the crash with serious injuries.
Most of the compensation awarded was for non-economic damages for pain and suffering and loss of consortium. Under New Mexico law, the amount of such compensatory damages, with few exceptions, is limited only by a jury's discretion. Legally speaking, such awards cannot "shock the conscience."
A federal district court affirmed the verdict and the appellate court rejected a request by the company to establish a threshold on the absolute limit on the value of life.
Vicarious liability aims to hold employers responsible for actions taken by employees. The doctrine of respondeat superior, literally "let the master answer" for the subordinate's conduct, allows employers to be held liable for the negligence of their employees within the scope of their employment.
Trucking accidents frequently result in very serious or fatal injuries. Holding at-fault companies accountable not only seeks to compensate a victim or family for losses, but to deter a trucking company from allowing similar actions to injure motorists in the future. In the event of a crash, you should seek the legal advocacy of an experienced El Paso truck accident attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Michael J. Gopin, PLLC today and find out how we can help.