Millions of trucks travel our roadways every day. Truck operators need to obey specific laws and regulations to ensure the safety of everyone who shares the road with large commercial vehicles. As long as trucking companies and truck drivers follow the rules, in theory, everyone should remain safe from an avoidable 18-wheeler accident.
Truck accidents are caused by a variety of factors that generally fall under three main categories, which include driver error, mechanical malfunctions, and road conditions. When a mechanical malfunction causes a truck crash, it may be due to the failure to properly maintain the vehicle. If you were involved in an accident with a big rig, your attorney will need to verify proper maintenance of the vehicle and determine if the lack of maintenance contributed to the cause of the crash.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates and oversees commercial truck safety. They enforce rules that apply to trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds and/or contain hazardous materials. Trucking companies must maintain and inspect their trucks according to the standards set forth by law. They are also required to keep records for a period of at least one year and provide information to inspectors when requested.
The FMCSA has extensive rules that include all areas of the truck such as tires, brakes, lights, signals, reflectors, fuel system, windows, frame, wiring, cargo areas, and more. Trucks must also undergo regular inspections. Truck drivers must perform a visual inspection of various truck features before they drive the truck. The failure to inspect or properly maintain a vehicle is a violation. Some companies have many violations for failed inspections or negligent maintenance of their trucks.
When a trucking company breaks the law, they can be in some instances “negligence per se”. This means that the law presumes that the company is negligent when it violated the law, making it easier to prove your case. When you prove that the company violated the law or was negligent, it is up to the trucking company to defend their position that they were not at fault. In addition to proving negligence, you will also need to prove that your injuries were a result of the crash, and other factors. Truck accident claims can be extremely complex, so it is helpful to hire an 18 wheeler accident attorney to handle the claim process.
Your attorney will work to determine the factors involved in the case and will review the vehicle inspection report and the black box (computer data) if it may be helpful. Also, your lawyer will investigate whether the company had previous violations or a history of accidents that were due to improper maintenance. One important action that your lawyer may need to take is to file an emergency motion to prevent the company from destroying potential evidence in the case. An accident reconstruction expert or a truck maintenance expert may need to inspect the truck to see if there was an equipment failure and to find other important information about the crash.
Contact an experienced Houston truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident so that the evidence is still intact.