Perceived “deep pockets” and willingness to settle quickly make businesses a target for litigation when an on-the-job motor vehicle accident occurs. Regardless of the severity of the crash, liability exposure and potential harmful publicity can impact a company’s bottom line and brand reputation.
The size of legal rewards for on-the-job motor vehicle accidents is soaring; a 2019 verdict award was the highest in history against a fleet at $280 million. The average liability verdict award (not including settlements) has climbed to $17.5 million1. Some of these cases involve a wrongful death charge, but most cases are brought with a charge of negligence.
Negligence, or negligent entrustment liability, occurs when a dangerous article – in this case a vehicle – is entrusted to somebody who is reckless, inexperienced, or incompetent. If the entrusted individual has an accident, the injured party has the right to bring a case against the individual’s employer.
To find fault with the employer, all the plaintiff needs to show is:
- The organization entrusted the vehicle to the driver
- The driver was reckless, incompetent, or unlicensed
- The organization knew – or should have known – that the driver was reckless, incompetent, or unlicensed
The organization should have known – Companies employing drivers are expected to know what is in their driver’s history prior to putting them on the road in a company vehicle or allowing them to drive on company time. Consistent reviews of motor vehicle reports are not only the expectation, but a necessity in protecting a company from liability risk exposure.
Continuous license monitoring is a proactive way to correct risky behaviors of drivers before an accident occurs. Monitoring a drivers MVR allows the fleet manager to receive notifications of violations and license suspensions as they occur. By getting this information sooner, the manager can take immediate corrective action with the driver, closing the accident and liability risk exposure gap.
Learn more about minimizing the risks posed by employing drivers in “The Risk of Overlooking Driver Safety”
- Kingston, J. (2019, November 20). The numbers don’t lie: size of legal awards vs. trucking companies is soaring. Retrieved from https://www.freightwaves.com/news/the-numbers-dont-lie-size-of-legal-awards-vs-trucking-companies-is-soaring?utm_content=105995565&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lcp-11046286.