The trucking company and the truck driver have numerous obligations when it comes to maintenance and safety. One requirement is that the driver performs a pre-trip inspection.
Although the inspection takes time from driving, it is an absolute must. If the driver does not perform the pre-trip inspection, and maintenance issues cause an accident, the trucking company can be liable to pay you significant financial compensation. Our Wilmington, NC truck accident attorneys at Horton & Mendez can fight for you to receive the largest settlement or award possible in a trucking accident case. Let us know how we can help you today.
Federal Regulations Make a Semi-Truck Pre-Trip Inspection Mandatory
The pre-trip inspection is vital for the safety of a commercial truck and for your safety. There is quite a bit of wear and tear on a truck when it is being driven. These vehicles weigh 80,000 pounds, and a lot can go wrong. All it takes is a slight failure for the truck to cause a major accident. For example, a tire blowout can cause the truck driver to lose control of the vehicle and crash into cars in the way.
Under federal trucking regulations, a driver is obligated to perform a pre-trip inspection before the start of their shift, and at least once every 24 hours when they are out on the road. One of the main requirements under federal rules is that the truck driver is “satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition.” They would also review the last driver vehicle inspection report.
What a Commercial Truck Pre-Trip Inspection Includes
There is no requirement as to how long a pre-trip inspection should take. Generally, the answer is that the inspection should take as long as necessary for the driver to be satisfied that the truck is roadworthy.
According to the Department of Transportation, the driver must inspect at least:
- 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
The driver must submit a Daily Vehicle Inspection Report for each vehicle they operate.
The Truck Driver Cannot Overlook or Forget the Pre-Trip Inspection
Truck drivers may not like to conduct the pre-trip inspection. It is time that they can use driving and earning money. The more time that they spend on the inspection, the less they can be behind the wheel. Some drivers may forget the requirements because they are eager to get on the road, while others may consciously skip the inspection.
Even though pre-trip inspections may take time and require paperwork, they are a critical part of truck safety. The truck driver depends on a safe rig for their own well-being. Further, these inspections are part of the duty of care that the truck driver owes to you. These inspections can keep you alive as well.
However, the truck driver may also be hesitant to do anything that takes a truck off the road because it can harm their work.
The Trucking Company Can Be Liable When Maintenance Issues Cause an Accident
One of the causes of many truck accidents is maintenance issues with the truck. The truck’s brakes may fail when the driver engages them. Many of these issues could have been prevented through the pre-trip inspection.
Lack of maintenance is a factor in many truck accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has found that maintenance issues contribute to roughly 40% of car accidents.
Trucking companies often cut corners on maintenance to save money and enhance their profit margins.
Proper maintenance and inspection of trucks are part and parcel of the duty of care that trucking companies owe you. If you can prove that the trucking company, including the driver, did not perform the proper maintenance and inspection, you may be entitled to money when the maintenance issues caused the crash that injured you or a loved one.
You Can Obtain Inspection Logs in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
You need to be able to obtain the inspection reports and maintenance logs for the truck that was involved in the accident. If you file a lawsuit against the trucking company, your attorney has the right to request evidence and records through the discovery process. The trucking company would then need to turn those records over to you.
Not having inspection reports that prove that the truck driver followed federal regulations can be a factor in the outcome of the lawsuit. The jury may draw an inference that the driver did not perform the inspections if they do not have the records to prove it.
Having the necessary records may not even help the trucking company, although it can prevent some of the worst liability. The trucking company is not necessarily off the hook if they have performed the pre-trip inspection, because there may have been other issues with maintenance.
The trucking company has an obligation to put roadworthy trucks on the road, and they may be responsible for any equipment failures. The jury may view their failures even more harshly when the trucking company has no evidence that they followed federal trucking regulations. Then, you may even be eligible for punitive damages if your case goes to a jury. The jury may see that the trucking company has a culture of noncompliance with regulations.
Contact a Wilmington Truck Accident Attorney Today
You may have a potential legal claim against the trucking company when a pre-trip inspection wasn’t completed. In every case, you need to prove that the driver or trucking company was negligent in the events surrounding the accident.
Contact an experienced truck accident attorney to investigate the accident and help you file your lawsuit. Our team at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys can help you hold the trucking company legally responsible. Call us today at 910-405-7751, or send us a message through our website, to schedule a free initial consultation. You do not need to pay us anything unless we help you win your case.