Truck crashes are devastating for all involved. In a shocking number of cases, safety violations contribute to truck crashes. However, the trucking company will do everything it can to hide its trucking violations.
To fight back, you’ll need an experienced truck accident lawyer who understands the federal trucking regulations and how they can impact your personal injury claim. Keep reading to learn four ways our injury attorneys uncover trucking violations.
Why Regulatory Violations Matter for a Truck Wreck Claim
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates most aspects of the trucking industry. From how a vehicle is loaded, to driver training, and how much time they spend on the road, these rules are meant to keep everyone safe. However, intense deadlines, tight profit margins, and pressure to deliver lead to fatigued truckers and over or improperly loaded trucks with neglected maintenance needs.
Under Alabama law, a violation of a truck safety regulation is “negligence per se.” When your truck accident lawyer can prove that there was negligence per se, you can skip the traditional, multi-step negligence analysis. Instead, you simply must convince the jury or judge that the trucking violation caused your damages. This can streamline and simplify your injury claims.
However, when safety violations cause a crash, the insurance and trucking companies will do whatever they can to cover them up. At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, our team aims to identify their violations and hold unsafe trucking companies and drivers accountable.
Review the Truck’s Logbooks for Hours of Service Violations
To prevent driver fatigue, the FMCSA limits the number of hours truck drivers can operate a commercial vehicle. To monitor compliance, trucking companies and drivers must track their hours of service and may face serious penalties for their violations.
Under federal law, truck drivers must maintain a logbook that lists their hours on the road. While it’s harder to falsify digital records, many truckers still use paper logbooks. They may even keep a second logbook with the correct number of hours and miles. Having an experienced truck wreck attorney on your side is the first step to recovering this information.
Importantly, trucking companies do not have to keep their hours of service logs forever. Under federal law, they can destroy their logbooks after six months unless an accident victim demands their preservation. For this reason, your lawyer should act quickly to save these valuable records after a truck crash.
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Assess the Truck’s Maintenance Records for Violations
Trucks are equipped with specific safety features that make them visible to other vehicles and safe on the roads. Lights, brakes, and tires are all critical components of safe driving. While many companies do a good job maintaining these components, the pressure to stay on the road also means that they sometimes implement hodge-podge solutions, if the problems are addressed at all.
To keep us safe, the FMCSA regulates truck maintenance. Companies must properly maintain their vehicles and keep logs of each vehicle’s safety inspections and maintenance. However, they only have to retain these records for six to twelve months. An experienced injury lawyer can scour these records for safety violations, ignored defects, and improper maintenance.
It’s also important to preserve physical evidence when you suspect negligent truck maintenance. Your lawyer and their experts may need to examine the truck’s tires, brakes, and other safety systems. However, if you and your lawyer don’t act quickly, the trucking company may replace the poorly-maintained parts and destroy this valuable evidence.
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Identify Negligent Hiring or Training Systems in Personnel Records
The FMCSA knows that not everyone should be behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, and sets strict rules about driver qualifications and training. For example, drivers must pass a medical examination, acquire a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and complete training sessions about safety and defensive driving.
Unfortunately, some truck drivers ignore these rules and drive with disqualifying medical conditions or without sufficient training. Your truck accident lawyer can review the driver’s personnel file, DOT medical examination reports, and other documents, looking for regulatory violations.
Investigate Unsafe Loading Procedures
How a truck is loaded matters. Done right, a truck maintains its center of gravity and can navigate safely. However, a poorly-loaded truck can become dangerously unbalanced—negatively impacting its handling and stopping abilities. That’s why there are federal rules that outline safe loading procedures and limit a big rig’s total weight.
When negligent loading causes an accident, companies will try to deny that their loading affected the driver’s safety. Don’t be fooled. When negligent loading causes a wreck, an experienced truck crash lawyer is the best resource for you and your family. They can help identify loading errors and hold the trucking or shipping company accountable.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Justice for Alabama and Gulf Coast Truck Accident Victims
The trucking companies and their insurers do not want you to uncover their safety violations. At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we believe that every truck accident victim deserves accountability and fair compensation for their injuries. That’s why we use a combination of aggressive and sophisticated techniques to investigate our clients’ claims and uncover safety violations.
If you’ve been hurt in a truck crash, don’t let the trucking companies get away with hiding their mistakes. Call Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys at (251) 888-8888 today for your free case evaluation or complete our simple online form. We’ll listen to your story and help you determine the best next steps for you and your family.
(2015, March) Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Drivers%20Guide%20to%20HOS%202015_508.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.