Truck accident cases are some of the most complex personal injury cases. To get the best results in your truck accident case, you will want to work closely with a lawyer with extensive experience going up against trucking companies and their insurers.
That experience will, for example, prompt us to examine all the evidence that would matter in a truck accident case. When two passenger vehicles collide, the facts often boil down to the specifics of the accident: who struck whom and who was going too fast.
Truck accidents are different. Many other factors play into liability because someone driving a 25,000-pound semi has a more significant duty of care to other drivers than someone driving a 3,000-pound Prius.
Trucking companies try to push as much responsibility for the accident as possible onto accident victims. By investigating each of the six issues below, your lawyer can help increase their portion of liability while reducing yours.
#1 The Trucking Company’s Hiring Practices
Trucking companies have a duty of care to verify any trucker they hire meets state and federal licensing standards.
Federal standards require them to pass background screens that prove they do not have a driver’s license suspension or revocation in any state. Their record must also be free from certain driving offenses.
They must not have a CDL in any other state. They must also obtain a DOT Medical Examiner’s Certificate to prove they are healthy enough to drive.
Many trucking companies cut corners or address hiring shortages by ignoring these guidelines or failing to do their due diligence. Putting an unqualified driver on the road is an act of negligence.
You may have heard of teenage truck drivers on the road. These 18 to 20-year-olds are part of an apprenticeship pilot program. They should be driving under supervision during a probationary period, and companies must monitor their performance until they’re 21. They must meet all federal guidelines.
#2 The Trucking Company’s Training Practices
Trucking companies may not rely on a CDL to determine whether their employees can operate their trucks or haul the specific cargo they specialize in.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require trucking companies to provide additional training. So do most written industry standards.
The training must be sufficient, complete, and correct to operate the vehicle and carry the cargo the driver was carrying at the crash.
#3 Driving Logs
Some companies routinely instruct drivers to violate federal guidelines requiring drivers to take rest breaks. The DOT calls this an “epidemic." One in five truck drivers exceeds their 60-hour-a-week regulations.
An experienced attorney can examine logs, find discrepancies, and pinpoint when drivers should not have been on the road.
Examining driving logs is especially important because research shows us that driving tired is worse than driving drunk.
In addition, here in New York City, drivers must adhere to special truck routes when passing through the city. We look for signs they failed to use the appropriate routes.
#4 Maintenance Logs
Corporations look for any place to cut costs, and maintenance is often a tempting place to cut corners.
Federal law requires trucks be inspected and maintained every 30 days. All parts and accessories must always be in safe and proper operating conditions. They must ensure these vehicles are properly lubricated and free of oil and grease leaks.
Commercial trucking companies must maintain service records for all their vehicles.
If the truck wasn’t roadworthy in the first place, then we can use that fact to show the trucking company’s culpability.
#5 Weight and Cargo Loading Practices
Direct collisions don’t cause some trucking accidents. They’re caused by cargo that’s been poorly secured. Improper loading can cause rollovers, jackknifes, chemical spills, and accidents where drivers swerve to avoid the cargo.
The FMCSA governs loading requirements. There are specific guidelines for almost every kind of load.
Trucking companies will try to argue that the load was acceptable when it was loaded but that it shifted and loosened during the crash. By obtaining cargo inspection records and bills of lading, your attorney can prove that the load was never adequately secured.
#6 Driver Conduct
There are two reasons to examine driver conduct.
The first is the usual suspects: proving the driver violated traffic regulations or that they were under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
The other is to prove the driver worked for the trucking company. They will often try to claim the driver is an independent contractor despite driving for them 60 hours a week. They’ll try to shift responsibility to the driver’s commercial insurance policy, which the driver will not have because they thought they were working for a trucking company.
Get Help With Your Truck Accident Case
Trucking companies tend to have an answer to every allegation. You’ll need to hire an expert investigator and litigator to ensure they can’t dodge responsibility for your accident.
The team at Jaroslawicz and Jaros are well equipped to help you pursue your truck accident claim. Schedule a free consultation to get help today.