If you were involved in an accident with a semi or other commercial truck, you should consider working with an attorney who can establish what happened. The underlying cause of a truck accident is not always clear. It could be the truck driver was distracted or intoxicated. It could be the truck driver was unknowingly operating a vehicle with a manufacturing defect or it could be the truck driver, trucking company, or maintenance provided failed to keep the truck in good repair. Under these circumstances, a negligent truck maintenance lawyer from Lugar Injury Law will fight for you to receive fair compensation for your injuries.
The Importance of Preventative Maintenance
For truck drivers and trucking companies to avoid having their big-rigs break down on the road, they must prioritize preventative maintenance. Failing to complete routine and common truck maintenance can be considered negligent. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires preventative maintenance as well. Inadequate maintenance increases the risk of trucking accidents and injuries.
Preventative maintenance includes, but is not limited to:
- Completing all lawfully required pre- and post-trip truck inspections;
- Performing tire maintenance, including checking tire pressure and tread;
- Inspecting the brakes;
- Checking the oil regularly;
- Inspecting the radiator, including topping off fluids and repairing small leaks;
- Inspecting the battery;
- Checking the fuel vent to prevent blockages;
- Checking and replacing the air filter;
- Lubricating moving parts; and
- Replacing worn-out parts.
Pre- and post-trip inspection checklists are lengthy. There are dozens of pieces of equipment on trucks that the drivers need to check, maintain, and, when necessary, repair or replace. Though inspections and maintenance are tedious processes, they must be done and done well.
When truck drivers and trucking companies skimp on inspections and preventative truck maintenance, they increase the risk of a defect, equipment failure, or equipment malfunction, causing an accident during a haul.
Preventative Maintenance Schedules
The FMCSA requires trucking companies to create and sustain a preventative maintenance schedule for all of their trucks. All parts and accessories must be in safe and proper condition at all times. Additionally, pushout windows, emergency doors, and emergency door marking lights have to be inspected at least every 90 days.
Trucking companies and drivers obtain a preventative maintenance schedule from the original equipment manufacturer. The OEM (original equipment manufacturer) provides information on when various parts need to be inspected and serviced based on dates, hours, or miles. The schedule provided by the OEM offers guidance for the company?s maintenance schedule, but annual inspections are essential, as well.
Inspections are a central focus of maintenance. Truck drivers must complete a pre-trip inspection, though it does not have to be in writing. Before starting a trip, the driver must review the Driver?s Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) from the previous trip and sign off on any defects or deficiencies noted.
Truck drivers must perform post-trip inspections at the end of each driving day and file a DVIR. The inspection report must note any defects or deficiencies the driver noticed that could affect the safe operation of the vehicle.
In addition to consistent pre-trip and post-trip inspections, truckers could be subject to random roadside inspections.
The trucking company is required to have a qualified inspector perform annual inspections of the trucks. Companies must retain these reports for at least 14 months.
Inspection and Maintenance Recordkeeping
Additionally, the FMCSA requires trucking companies and drivers to maintain a maintenance log for the previous 12-month period while a truck is in service. Once the truck is taken out of service, the company must keep the log for at least six months.
What is Improper Maintenance of Trucks?
Improper maintenance of commercial trucks can look like a lot of things.
A truck driver is guilty of improper maintenance if they skip pre-trip or post-trip inspections. Instead of carefully performing the inspection, the driver may falsely fill out a log. Or, a truck driver may perform an inspection quickly and carelessly. This lack of maintenance attention can cause truck drivers to miss defective equipment and necessary repairs.
Improper maintenance may arise even if a truck driver performs pre-trip and post-trip inspections, as required by law. Trucking companies may ignore the defects and deficiencies the drivers found. Instead of making necessary repairs, the trucking companies may send the truckers back out with a vehicles with potentially dangerous defects.
Failed maintenance can arise because of third-party maintenance providers. When truck drivers and companies rely on a vendor, they may not receive the level of care and standard of work they expect. Maintenance vendors may make shoddy repairs, use inappropriate replacement parts, or try to cover up inadequate repairs. A vendor might not even make the repair at all and, if the trucking company fails to check, they could send a dangerous truck back out on the road.
Trucking companies also can be responsible for using a maintenance vendor that is unqualified to work on certain systems or parts of the truck. For example, trucking companies are responsible for ensuring only qualified individuals service a truck?s brakes.
Truck Accidents Caused by Negligent Maintenance
All types of truck accidents can arise because of inadequate and unlawful maintenance. If you were in a crash, contact a negligent truck maintenance lawyer right away. Whether you were injured by a runaway truck, rear-end collision, or any other type of crash, we will get to the bottom of what happened.
Negligent maintenance can cause truck equipment to malfunction or fail. This malfunction or failure, in turn, can cause a collision.
Some examples of accidents caused by inadequate maintenance include:
- If a truck?s brakes fail, the trucker cannot stop the vehicle. Runaway truck accidents can be devastating.
- A component of the steering mechanism may fail, making it difficult or impossible for the truck driver to control the vehicle and avoid a collision.
- When a truck?s signal lights are broken, the trucker cannot safely communicate with other vehicles. This increases the risk of wide turn accidents.
- Old and worn tires are more likely to blow. Tire blowouts can lead truckers to lose control of the vehicle and crash.
- If a piece of equipment used to secure the cargo fails, cargo could fall off the truck and into the road.
- If a trailer hitch fails, a trailer could become unattached during a haul and collide with another vehicle.
Proving Negligent Maintenance
To prove negligent maintenance and obtain compensation for your injuries, you need a negligent truck maintenance lawyer who will dig into the truck driver and trucking company?s inspection and maintenance records. This requires filing a personal injury lawsuit and demanding copies of these records during discovery.
Attorney Cerid Lugar will scrutinize inspection logs and maintenance records. We will look for any inconsistencies that demonstrate the trucking or trucking company was being anything but honest.
We will investigate the truck?s maintenance provider. We may find employees of the vendor were unqualified or we may find a history of poor, inadequate repairs.
Depending on the complexity of the case, we may hire one or more experts to inspect the truck. Through a thorough physical inspection, an expert may find a serious defect that existed before the collision.
Contact a Negligent Truck Maintenance Lawyer Today
Preventative truck maintenance is required by law and essential to reduce the risk of collisions. To determine if inadequate maintenance played a roll in your trucking accident, contact Lugar Injury Law today. An experienced truck accident attorney will vigorously investigate the accident and review inspection and maintenance records.