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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
  • Tires
  • Horn
  • 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 company immediately.

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.

Determining Responsibility

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.

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