After a truck accident, the focus usually is on 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” 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 who work for the company to ensure the drivers comply 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 logbooks is a common occurrence. Truck drivers are limited in the number of hours they can work per day and per week and the hours that can be behind the wheel of a big rig.
The motor carrier must also develop policies that 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 the 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 and review annually the truck driver’s driving record and violations. Negligent hiring claims can be powerful evidence in a trucking crash lawsuit.
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.
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 problems, 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 our truck wreck lawyers for a personal consultation regarding your truck accident. We only handle cases within Texas that involve significant injury or losing a loved one. We have a no-fee policy- in which no legal fee is paid less you receive money on the case.
Call to schedule your consultation regarding your rights and options and the next step to take to protect your financial future.