Negligent hiring, retention and entrustment of truck drivers:
Motor carriers have a legal responsibility to hire only qualified, safe drivers and to entrust operation of large trucks to them. For example, a motor carrier must examine the driving and safety history of the truck driver by examining his or her Motor Vehicle Report, must have the applicant fill out a comprehensive job application which includes references from past employers and medical certification to ensure a driver does not have a medical condition which might compromise their ability to operate a truck safely.
Fatigued truck driving and hours of service violations:
Current federal regulations provide that motor carriers cannot allow drivers to operate commercial trucks while fatigued. There are also limits on the maximum amount truck drivers may drive in a given time period and also important rules for getting proper rest to prevent mistakes that can occur when drivers are pushed too far by companies to deliver loads with unrealistic delivery deadlines. It is important for truck accident lawyers to understand how to read and interpret driving logs and electronic logs to determine if a company required or encouraged a driver to continue driving while fatigued. Logs can be inaccurate or false when compared to other key documents like fuel receipts or toll receipts. Motor carriers should have policies and training in place to help ensure truck drivers don’t cause crashes because they are fatigued.
Vicarious liability of the contract motor carrier for acts of an independent motor carrier:
A large majority of trucking companies are small companies with fewer than three trucks who don’t have shipping contracts with larger shippers. These small companies often operate on shoestring budgets and get many of their loads to haul from internet websites where they agree to haul loads that other large motor carriers are obligated to haul under terms of their transportation service agreements with large shippers. The large motor carriers will “bid out” these loads to the cheapest bidders and retain the profits, even if the company they award the bid to is insolvent, unsafe, or doesn’t carry enough insurance. When the smaller trucking company causes a crash, the contract motor carrier may try to disclaim any responsibility and their insurance company may refuse to compensate the victims. This situation is why the law recognizes that the trucking company who agreed to haul the cargo by contract may be held vicariously liable for the acts of the independent contractor that caused the truck accident.
Negligent selection of independent contractors by shippers or brokers:
A shipper or broker who places a load for transport has a legal obligation to select safe motor carriers. Motor carrier data and safety records are publicly available on internet websites maintained by regulatory agencies like saferysys.org. A shipper or broker should examine the safety history and fitness of a motor carrier before engaging them to haul cargo that could jeopardize public safety if the carrier has exhibited a history of safety violations.
Negligent maintenance of trucking equipment:
Motor carriers and drivers must maintain key components of their commercial motor vehicles. Routine and preventative maintenance are especially important to prevent crashes from failed brakes, bad tires or steering components. Trucks must also have proper reflective tape, lights and underride guards.Drivers must be adequately trained to inspect trucks both pre- and post-trip and recognize the signs of problem air brakes, improperly inflated tires, or bare tires and other important components. In crash situations – where split seconds can often determine life or death – any failure of brakes, tires or other safety components must be prevented.
Impaired or intoxicated truck driving:
Unrealistic delivery schedules and unfair compensation systems can result in truck drivers having to drive while fatigued to earn enough money to survive which can also encourage them to use illegal intoxicants. Companies must remain vigilant in their safety protocol to prevent impaired or fatigued driving.
Call an Expert Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you think you any of these circumstances may have played a part in injuries you or a loved one have suffered recently, do not hesitate to call Matthew Wright of Wright Law, PLC to speak with an expert truck accident attorney.