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Can employers be held liable for undertraining workers?

Absolutely, employers can (and should) be held liable for undertraining their workers. For example, nurses who have not received proper training in lifting procedures are at higher risk of injuring themselves and the patients they are lifting.

In a similar vein, a trucking company that does not properly train its drivers has employees who are at risk of injuring themselves plus the many thousands of folks who share their space on the roads. However, are there ways to know if a truck driver was undertrained?

Investigating the causes of a crash

When a truck crash occurs, the causes are not always immediately obvious. For example, say that Witness A saw Truck Driver B falling asleep behind the wheel moments before the crash.

Ah, then! The cause is clear as day: drowsy driving.

Not so quick, though. Yes, drowsy driving certainly seems to be a big culprit, perhaps the only culprit. However, the causes could be wide-ranging. Did the trucking company adequately train the driver in procedures to minimize or avoid drowsy driving? Had the driver told the company that he or she was too tired to drive, and the company ordered the driver to work anyway? What if the weather was icy or rainy? Did the trucking company train the worker on driving in inclement weather or verify that the driver was capable of doing so?

As you can see, anything from employer undertraining to outright negligence can play big roles in a vehicle crash.

To learn more about the causes of a crash, investigators may need to access the trucking company’s educational materials and chat with current and former employees about the workplace culture and the training procedures. Many drivers, understandably, want to keep their jobs and might be reluctant to talk with an investigator. Nor is a trucking company likely to turn over training procedures just because an investigator wants to see them. A lawsuit may be necessary to uncover such evidence.