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Negligent Hiring In Commercial Motor Vehicle Accident Cases


When a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is involved in an accident on Florida roads, it is taken seriously, and taken even more seriously if property damage or serious injury is involved. Florida law requires a police report to be filed in these cases, in order to preserve a snapshot of the evidence and circumstances surrounding the crash. However, there are other external factors that can play a role in CMV accidents, with one of the most common being the issue of the driver’s fitness to be behind the wheel. While it is difficult under Florida law, it is possible for an injured plaintiff to file suit against the CMV operator’s employer under a theory of negligent hiring.

What Is Negligent Hiring?

Negligent hiring is a civil tort (essentially, the civil law equivalent of a crime), which alleges that a corporation acted negligently by failing to properly vet an employee before hiring them. In other words, businesses are required to perform due diligence in hiring, checking on issues like past criminal records or whether or not an applicant has required credentials, and if they fail to do this, they may wind up liable for the acts of that employee. For example, in 2021, a Nassau County jury granted damages totaling $1 billion to the parents of a young man struck and killed by a careless CMV driver; that verdict would be paid by the driver’s employer, not the driver himself.

Negligent hiring is a fairly new concept in the law; previously, only an allegedly negligent employee would be sued if they acted in a negligent way. However, Florida and other states have clarified that existing law creates a duty for an employer to properly vet the people they choose to hire. This is even more relevant when employees are hired to operate potentially dangerous machines like CMVs, which often weigh twice or three times as much as other vehicles on the road.

Legal Presumption Limits Liability

While plaintiffs can and do prevail in negligent hiring cases, it is made somewhat more difficult in Florida by the codified existence of a rebuttable presumption against negligent hiring. What this means is that any court case against an allegedly negligent commercial corporation will start from the presumption that no negligent hiring took place as long as the required pre-employment background check did not uncover any information that “reasonably demonstrated the unsuitability” of the job applicant. While a corporation must perform several specific tasks in order to trigger the presumption, most do, in order to be legally protected.

It is not unheard of for corporations to simply not do their due diligence when looking for new hires – but one must be able to prove that lack of performance in order to have a chance to establish that negligence occurred. It can take considerable time and trouble, but with the right legal help on your side, it is possible to show that the corporation that hired a negligent CMV driver is legally liable for what you have been through. Every case is different, but it is a good idea to seek out an attorney to discuss yours.

Contact A Tampa CMV Accident Attorney

Negligent hiring does happen, and it can lead to serious injuries and fatalities on Florida roads. If you have been involved in an accident with an allegedly negligent CMV driver, calling an experienced Tampa CMV accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group should be your first call. We are ready to try and assist you – call our office at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.



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