Why Truck Cases Are Different

Cases involving tractor-trailers, large trucks, or other commercial motor vehicles are very different than car accident cases and cannot be handled the same way by your attorney.

Commercial motor vehicles, truck drivers, and trucking companies are required to follow the rules laid out in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The primary mission of the regulations are to improve truck and bus safety on our nation’s highways—includes reducing the number of transportation incidents that involve hazardous materials and could potentially harm the public and the environment. It is vital that your lawyer be an expert in these regulations—what they say, why they say it, and how to find out if a trucking company or its driver has violated any.

KEY REGULATIONS THAT APPLY TO CASES INVOLVING COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLES:

Truck companies must follow strict rules when hiring professional drivers. Things to consider include:

  1. Did the truck company conduct a proper background check? If so, did the company actually review and consider the information within it?
  2. What was the driving history of the drive?—did the driver have a number of moving violations on his record when hired?
  3. Had the driver worked for any other trucking companies? If so, was the driver fired or ever reprimanded for safety violations?
  4. Was the driver drug tested? If so, did he pass? What about previous tests?
  5. Had the driver’s license ever been suspended, revoked, or disqualified for commercial driving?
  6. Were the proper medical examinations done and are they up to date?

These are just some of the things a trucking company should consider when hiring a commercial driver; and in turn, are some of the things your lawyer should consider when evaluating whether the driver was properly screened, investigated, and hired.

Commercial truck drivers are restricted by the number of daily and weekly hours they can drive their trucks. These limits are supposed to keep tired truck drivers off the road. In most situations, truck drivers may only drive 11 hours and work only 14 total hours in a day, including time spent driving and doing other non-driving work. The driver then must have 10 continuous hours off from work before being able to drive again.

Compared to regular drivers, truckers are held to stricter rules regarding alcohol and drugs. For example, if a truck driver’s blood alcohol content is 0.04 percent or higher, they are in violation. Truck drivers are also not allowed to drive a commercial vehicle within 4 hours of consuming alcohol. There are also special laws related to how truck drivers may use prescription medication. Commercial drivers are subject to random testing for drugs and alcohol and drug, and must also be tested after crashes where they may be at fault or someone was seriously injured.

State and federal traffic safety laws provide regulations for how tractor-trailer and other commercial vehicles must be maintained. Drivers must inspect their vehicles before they drive away and after they are done driving for the day. Before putting the truck in gear, the driver should ensure everything is working properly:

  1. Steering
  2. Brakes
  3. Lights and reflectors
  4. Horn
  5. Tires
  6. Emergency equipment
  7. Hoses and belts
  8. Electronic systems

Truck companies must also inspect their fleets. Trucks must be inspected annually by outside agencies to ensure they are safely maintained. A truck that is not properly working cannot be on the road.  If you are interested in looking up a truck company to see if it has been involved in any wrecks or whether it has passed its inspections, go here and search by company name:
http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/companysnapshot.aspx

The company must also keep records of maintenance checks, service records, and when vehicles are put “out of service” because they are unsafe.

Under most circumstances, trucks can have a maximum gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds. The weight limit is to keep highways, bridges, tunnels, and other roadways from being overloaded. Nevertheless, truck companies exceed weight limits in order to load more, transport more, and make more.

Cases involving tractor-trailers or other commercial vehicles are different, very different from car accidents. You need a lawyer who knows truck rules and can use them to win your case. Mike Rafi takes a small number of cases and works to maximize the value of each—and one way he does that is by understanding that truck cases are different and knowing how to investigate truck crashes. Contact Mike if you have been involved in a wreck with a commercial vehicle.

Contact Mike Rafi

ADDRESS

1201 WEST PEACHTREE STREET NW

SUITE 2319

ATLANTA, GEORGIA 30309

1895 Phoenix Boulevard

Suite 110B

College Park, GA 30349

PHONE/FAX

ATLANTA PHONE: 404-800-9933

COL. PARK PHONE: 404-800-9985

FAX: 470-344-3425