Trucking accidents can be extremely dangerous, as the sheer size of the rigs can amplify the damage done when they’re in an accident. Of course, the primary costs of such accidents are injuries in the worst cases the loss of human lives. In those cases, those deemed responsible can be ordered to pay millions of dollars to the families of the victims.

That happened in a recent Georgia case. A settlement was announced this April about damages to be paid for a deadly interstate crash last year. Five nursing students died in that crash, and their families will receive millions of dollars. As an example of the amounts involved, one victim’s family will be receiving $14 million.

The money will be paid by the employer of the driver of the tractor-trailer at the center of the accident. According to legal depositions, the driver had been hired by the employer even though they knew he had been fired by his previous employer due to having fallen asleep at the wheel. Although the driver contends that he did not fall asleep at the wheel in this case, he does acknowledge that this accident was his fault.

He had been driving the tractor-trailer on I-16 when he smashed into stop-and-go traffic. That traffic was backed up due to an unrelated wreck. He hit two vehicles, resulting in the death of the five Georgia Southern University nursing students. The students had been commuting to their workplace, a Savannah, Georgia, hospital.

This case shows how critical it is for employers to not only check the safety records of prospective employees, but to also refrain from hiring anyone with a poor safety record. One bad hiring choice can result in the loss of lives and the outlay of millions of dollars in settlements.

Source: Times Union, “Trucking firm to pay millions in fatal crash of 5 students,” Russ Bynum, Associated Press, April 20, 2016