A Commercial Driver’s License issued by Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration requires a motorist to follow strict guidelines. A CDL driver must pass a vision screening in addition to skills and hazardous materials tests before operating a tractor-trailer. To maintain a CDL, the driver must not have a record of multiple accidents, moving violations or citations for driving under the influence. When a company hires a CDL driver who falls below these standards, the driver may be classified as a marginal driver.

Marginal drivers are not only dangerous to other motorists, they could also be a costly liability for the transportation companies that hire them. For one industry-leading transportation and logistics company, a marginal truck driver caused a catastrophic accident. That company ended up owing $36 million from a legal settlement, as reported by FreightWaves. While the jury held the tractor-trailer driver negligent for causing the accident, the jury also found that the company that employed the marginal driver was negligent in its practice of hiring and retaining him.

The accident occurred in 2011 when a motorist was driving the wrong way on an Indiana interstate. Two other vehicles swerved to avoid the oncoming car, but the marginal tractor-trailer driver, who was speeding, crashed into a Jeep that was in front of his truck. The impact pushed the Jeep into another semi-truck’s fuel tank resulting in devastating injuries to the Jeep’s driver.

The jury trial showed that the tractor-trailer driver had never taken a truck-driving course before operating the rig for the company that hired him. During the previous three years, his driving record showed a license suspension, numerous moving violations and several accidents. A check on his employment record revealed four previous employers fired him for tailgating, accumulating points on his license and crashing into a vehicle intentionally.

As part of the transportation company’s punishment for hiring a marginal driver, the jury ordered it to pay $35 million in punitive damages.

This information is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.