Maintenance Issues & Truck Accidents
Washington, DC Truck Accident Attorneys
Trucking companies are responsible for maintaining their trucks and for
keeping unsafe trucks off the road. Inspection responsibilities are shared
by the trucking company and the driver. When a faulty vehicle is the cause
of a trucking accident, it can be very difficult to track down who is
to blame for the improper maintenance. An experienced trucking accident
attorney knows which records to obtain and how to evaluate those records
to determine who was responsible for the faulty condition of the truck.
Truck Driver Responsibility
Truck drivers are required to inspect the truck at the beginning and end
of each work day. They must also review the post-trip inspection report
made by the last driver of the truck. If that report included repairs
needed, they must obtain certification from the trucking company that
the repairs were actually made, before signing off on the report.
Driver inspections must include:
- Service brakes including trailer brake connections
- Parking brake
- Steering mechanism
- Lighting devices and reflectors
- Windshield wipers
- Rear vision mirrors
- Coupling devices
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
Truck drivers have a duty to report any needed repairs to the trucking
Trucking Company Responsibility
Trucking companies cannot require or allow drivers to operate a truck that
is in need of repair. They must keep detailed maintenance records documenting
work done, parts purchased, and repair requests made by drivers. In addition
to the driver inspections, trucking companies are required to have their
trucks inspected annually, by a qualified inspector.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) agents may board
and inspect trucks. If an FMCSA agent deems a truck to be unsafe due to
poor maintenance or improper loading, the truck can be declared "out
of service." The trucking company cannot require or allow anyone
to operate a truck that is out of service until all of the required repairs
have been completed.
Trucking companies also have specific maintenance duties such as ensuring
that all trucks are properly lubricated and free of oil and grease leaks.
Ultimately, trucking companies are responsible for the condition of their
trucks, and in most accidents caused by poor maintenance, the trucking
company is partially or completely at fault. However, drivers play a very
serious role in truck maintenance. They are often the first to know when
something is amiss and they are responsible for daily inspections. If
a driver fails to conduct a thorough inspection or fails to notify the
company, in writing, of a needed repair, he or she may be held responsible
if the defect causes an accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a
trucking accident, please e-mail or speak to one of the skilled truck accident attorneys
at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. before you settle with
an insurance company. With a Washington, DC personal injury attorney from
our firm on your side, you can have peace of mind knowing that a highly
skilled legal representative is working for you.