A Cheyenne, Wyoming jury awarded a husband and wife more than $18 million in a personal injury lawsuit arising out of a tractor-trailer collision. The driver of the tractor-trailer and the trucking company that employed her were found to be negligent in causing the crash. The defendants claimed that the husband, who was very seriously injured and sustained severe brain damage as a result of the crash, was negligent in causing the collision. The jury disagreed. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.
Trucking cases can be very difficult and complex cases to handle and it is very important to be represented by an experienced trial attorney who is familiar with the statutes, rules and regulations that are applicable to truck drivers and trucking companies. These statutes, rules and regulations may add another layer of complexity to an otherwise typical automobile accident case. There are certain records that a trucking company is required by law to maintain. These records can be critical to the outcome of trucking case where a party has sustained serious personal injuries. For instance, Department of Transportation regulations govern the inspection and maintenance responsibilities of most motor carriers and truck drivers that conduct interstate operations. These regulations have been adopted by the Maryland legislature and apply with equal force to intrastate motor carriers that conduct business entirely within the State of Maryland.
Some trucking accidents happen when a tire blows on a dump truck or tractor-trailer. At first glance, one might conclude that such “acts of God” are not related to any negligent act or omission on the part of the truck driver or the trucking company. However, that may not be the case. Department of Transportation regulations provide, among other things, that it is unlawful to operate any commercial vehicle unless the driver is certain that the tires and other component parts are in good working order. No motor vehicle may be operated on a tire which has an inflation pressure less than that specified for the load being carried. Wheels and rims may not be cracked or broken when the truck is being operated. Every motor carrier is obligated to systematically inspect, repair and maintain all motor vehicles under its control, including the wheels and rims. The motor vehicle is required to maintain a record of all inspection, repairs and maintenance for six months after the vehicle leaves the motor carrier’s control. Every motor carrier must require each of its drivers to prepare a report in writing at the completion of each work day on each vehicle operated. The report is required to identify the vehicle and list any defect or deficiency which would affect the safety of operating the vehicle. If no defect or deficiency is discovered, the report must so indicate. The report must be signed by the driver. Any deficiency or defect must be repaired prior to the operation of the vehicle. A driver must be satisfied that the vehicle is in safe operating condition prior to operating it. Every driver is required to review the last driver inspection report before operating the vehicle and must sign the report if any defects or deficiencies were previously noted to certify that the required repairs have been performed.
As you can see, there are number of things that a trucking company and its drivers are required to do and there a number of records that they are required to keep. Hiring an experienced attorney that knows the applicable regulations and the critical records to request provides a tremendous advantage and typically facilitates a better outcome.