It’s unfortunate but true that many trucking accidents could be avoided with proper maintenance of the vehicle. Whether the fault regarding the poor care lies with the company, maintenance personnel or driver doesn’t change the fact that you’ve been injured and are now dealing with the consequences of the crash. But who the fault lies with is important, and if you decide to file suit, you’re going to need to focus on the party responsible. Only by determining what went wrong and who was behind it will you be more likely to prove fault and recover.
Showing the maintenance of a truck was so inadequate or below standards as to be negligent can be difficult. While you’re dealing with feeling better and paying your medical bills, you should let a Chicago trucking accident attorney handle gathering evidence and moving the case through the court system. Allowing a truck crash lawyer to focus on your case takes a few tasks off your to do list and gives you a chance to concentrate on getting back on your feet.
Maintenance Under Federal Law
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires trucking companies and their equipment providers to “systemically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles and intermodal equipment subject to its control.” The purpose of this mandate is to ensure all parts of the truck are in working order and safe at any given time.
Fixing an issue once it’s arisen isn’t enough either. Companies can’t ignore their trucks until a part breaks. Instead, it’s best if they use a consistent and preventative maintenance schedule.
Not only should a company conduct regular inspections of its vehicles, drivers have to make an inspection before they hit the road. Pre-trip inspections don’t have to be in writing, but it’s up to the driver to determine that everything is ready and that the cargo is safely loaded. The driver must also review the last driver vehicle inspection report, and then sign the report if previously noted defects were fixed.
In addition to pre-trip inspections, drivers are required to check the vehicle and cargo again within the first 50 miles of a trip. They must check again after changing their duty status or after driving 150 miles or 3 hours, whichever milestone is reached first.
What Should Be Checked
All vehicles are complex but large trucks are even more complicated than the standard family sedan. A thorough maintenance routine includes looking at but is not limited to:
- Oil and fuel lines
- Power steering
- All belts
Any issue with any one of these components could mean a truck that is unable to function properly heads onto the road. But not every problem on a truck is as likely to cause an accident as another. Issues with brakes, the truck’s lights, loose cargo and flat or old tires all increase the risk of a crash like the one you suffered.
Qualified Personnel Conduct Maintenance
Saying a truck was looked at and maintained isn’t enough for a trucking company to be compliant with the law. The people who inspect and fix the trucks need to be properly qualified and trained to do so. If those working on the trucks aren’t fit for the duty, the company could still be liable for negligent maintenance.
Maintenance Records Required by Law
The FMCSA requires truck companies create maintenance records for any vehicle they control for 30 consecutive days. Businesses must keep these records for 1 year and for 6 months after a vehicle is no longer under that company’s control.
Drivers are required by law to write a report at the end of each day regarding the operation and working order of any trucks they drove that day. The FMCSA requires drivers report on 10 different aspects of the vehicles, and the company must repair any defect found before that vehicle is operated again. All of these reports must be kept for three months.
How a Chicago Trucking Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Proving fault in a trucking accident case isn’t simple. You need the proper parties named in the suit and the right evidence to present to the court. An experienced attorney will understand how to get ahold of and carefully review the trucking company and driver’s maintenance records. Your attorney’s knowledge of the law will allow him to or her to gauge whether the company is likely to be found compliant under the law or negligent.
Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. has years of experience litigating cases like this. They understand you might not have the experience, time or energy needed to dedicate yourself to a lawsuit while you’re handling the repercussions of the crash. Call (312) 236-2900 to learn how Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help.