6 Ways To Protect Your Commercial Trucking Business Against Lawsuits
Whether you are an owner-operator or the manager of a commercial trucking company, the potential for lawsuits is always a concern. Plaintiffs injured in trucking accidents have the potential recover significant sums of money, especially if they can prove the trucker or the motor carrier violated a state or federal trucking regulation. Give yourself added peace of mind by following these tips to protect yourself or your commercial trucking company against lawsuits.
1. Purchase non-trucking liability coverage.
Your current insurance coverage may not be enough to protect you if you get into an accident while using a truck for non-business purposes, even if you are under contract with a motor carrier. For example, if you decide to stop for groceries after dropping off a load of cargo, your motor carrier's primary liability insurance will not cover you if you get into an accident in front of the grocery store. Not only does this type of truckers insurance cover your medical expenses in the event of an accident, it also pays accident-related expenses for other people involved in the crash.
2. Require employees to keep comprehensive logs of their activities.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limits the number of hours a trucker travels between rest periods. If one of your drivers does not adhere to these regulations, your company may be liable if an accident occurs. One company recently settled a wrongful death lawsuit because a trucker kept driving his rig even though he had not slept in more than 24 hours. Requiring employees to keep logs of their driving time and rest periods adds another layer of protection for your company.
3. Implement an on-site vehicle inspection program.
Many states have annual safety inspection requirements, but you should be inspecting your rigs on a regular basis. Your vehicle inspection program should include a pre-trip inspection checklist as well as more rigorous inspections completed every month. Instruct drivers to check for broken lights, spongy brakes, damaged windshield wipers, and other defects that increase the risk for accidents. Inspect your rigs regularly to ensure they are not leaking oil or exhibiting signs of another serious problem.
4. Cut ties with customers who ask you to break safety rules.
You need to be profitable to stay in business, but that doesn't mean you should continue working with customers who demand unrealistic delivery schedules. If your drivers have to break the law or put their safety at risk to keep a customer happy, it's time to cut ties with that customer. Losing one customer is far better than having to pay millions of dollars in accident-related expenses.
5. Develop and enforce consistent safety policies for workers.
Your safety program should include ongoing training for drivers to ensure they understand how to stay safe. Make sure your training materials outline the procedure drivers should follow when reporting safety issues. When an employee reports a potential hazard, you must have someone conduct a thorough investigation and take the steps necessary to correct the problem.
6. Implement a drug-testing program.
If one of your drivers operates a truck while under the influence of alcohol, the consequences can be devastating. Not only will you be liable for the accident, but your company's reputation will be tarnished. Prevent drug-related crashes by conducting drug tests before you hire a driver and at random intervals throughout the year. The cost of testing is a small price to pay compared to the cost of having one of your drivers cause a crash while impaired.
There is no sure way to prevent every trucking accident, but there are ways to protect your business against accident-related lawsuits. If you don't have adequate insurance coverage, purchase extended coverage through one of the commercial truck insurance companies in your area. Protect your employees by implementing strict safety standards, ensuring compliance with federal regulations, and inspecting your rigs regularly. Taking these steps will help you protect your company's reputation and keep accident-related costs as low as possible. Click here to continue reading more.