After a truck accident, the focus usually is upon the driver of the big rig and whether or not that driver was responsible for the collision. Sometimes, however the trucking company or “motor carrier” that holds responsibility independently of the acts of their driver.
Motor carriers must follow the same set of rules that commercial drivers must follow and that is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which are contained in Title 49 in the Code of Federal Regulations. Not only must the trucking company make certain that their drivers know and comply with the safety regulations, but the company also has compliance obligations specifically addressed to the company.
The company must supervise drivers that work for the company to make sure the drivers are complying with the law. This supervision includes reviewing the logbooks filed by the driver to make sure the driver is qualified to be behind the wheel and not driving outside the hours of service regulations. Cheating on log books is a common occurrence. Truck drivers are limited in the number of hours they can work for a day and per week and hours that can be behind the wheel of a big rig.
The motor carrier must also develop policies which ensure safe practices by the drivers and employees. Ongoing educational safety meetings are a must.
At the end of every day, the driver must complete a driver’s daily vehicle inspection report listing every defect on the vehicle. The company must make sure that no defect is remaining before the truck back in service. The company must also have regular inspections of tractors and trailers for safety issues.
Companies must make sure that a driver of one of their trucks is qualified to drive the truck before the driver gets behind the wheel. The company has to contact prior employers regarding the driver, review annually the truck drivers driving record and violations.
Trucking Company Negligence in Encouraging Unsafe Practices
Probably the most significant area of independent liability for trucking companies are violations of Section 390.13 which provides “no person shall aid, abet, encourage, or require a motor carrier or its employees to violate the rules.” This section is often used in truck accident litigation when the company sends its drivers out when they know the driver is violating the hours of service regulations but for scheduling need the load delivered.
Also, we have seen circumstances where a truck or trailer was in a dangerous condition known to the company and put back on the highway without being adequately maintained. Finally, when evidence is developed that the driver routinely speeds, the book can stop with the company for encouraging or failing to stop the drivers and fractions.
Trucking Company Violations Uncovered in the Investigation
The vast majority of the time, trucking company violations are not readily apparent after the collision. Whether the issue is falsified logbooks, driver’s qualifications, the condition of the tractor and trailer or other problem, it usually requires in-depth analysis to uncover and prove independent negligence by the trucking company.
Often, the company will fight hard to conceal the infractions of the company. Fortunately, the best trucking accident attorneys are well-versed in the regulations and techniques to avoid discovery by the defense.
Call Attorney Greg Baumgartner for Personal Consultation on Your Trucking Case
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