Safety Inspections and How They Can Impact Truck Accident Liability
Miley Legal Group
After an accident with a truck, accident liability must be determined. Although the driver’s negligence is oftentimes a factor, there can be other issues that influence the case. One consideration is safety inspections. A failure to properly inspect the truck or to adequately fix malfunctioning equipment could be a contributing factor to the accident.
What is a driver vehicle inspection report and how does it apply to my case?
At the end of a driver’s workday, he or she must complete a written report and give it to the employer. The driver’s inspection report must cover certain accessories and parts. Of course, it’s up to the motor carrier company if it wishes to include other ones.
The mandatory parts/accessories that must be included in the driver’s vehicle inspection report include:
- emergency equipment;
- service brakes (trailer brake connections);
- parking brake;
- coupling devices;
- steering mechanism;
- rearview mirrors;
- lights/reflectors; and
- windshield wipers.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “No commercial motor vehicle shall be driven unless the driver thereof is satisfied that the emergency equipment required by §393.95 . . . is in place and ready for use; nor shall any driver fail to use or make use of such equipment when and as needed.”
The report that the driver fills out is important because the driver is to indicate any defects or problems that would impact safe operation of the truck. A driver who fails to make note of an issue could be liable for the truck accident if it turns out something was wrong and it made driving the truck unsafe, whether or not they are carrying emergency equipment.
Or it could be that the inspection report shows a part has malfunctioned but nothing was done to fix it. An example would be a driver who notes excessive wear of the truck’s tire treads. If the motor carrier company does not replace the tires, there is an increased risk of a crash.
The motor carrier company is required to keep this inspection report on file for three months from the date it was written. Since this isn’t a very long period of time, if there is any suspicion that something might have been wrong with the truck, it would be a good idea to try to obtain this information as quickly as possible.
Drivers must also make reports regarding equipment provided by an intermodal equipment provider. They are to be made aware of certain defects or malfunctions in parts/accessories. In this case, the provider would make repairs.
Are there other types of inspection reports that may affect truck accident liability?
Inspections don’t just occur after a driver has operated the truck. Special agents employed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are authorized to inspect a vehicle and intermodal equipment at any time. If it’s discovered there is an increased risk of an accident because of a problem with equipment or parts, it will be marked as “out-of-service.” Until the motor carrier corrects the issue, the truck cannot be driven.
This information could help if the truck accident was caused by a malfunctioning vehicle. The information could also help determine if there was a failure to adequately repair parts or equipment noted by an FMCSA special agent.
Motor carriers are also required to conduct annual and periodic inspections of their fleets. A failure to inspect as necessary could end up being a critical factor in a crash. Therefore, claimants wishing to bring legal action should gather and analyze all reports as soon as possible whenever there is cause to believe that deficient parts or equipment contributed to an accident.
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The Miley Legal Group is prepared to help accident victims establish truck accident liability through proper evidence and solid case preparation. Call us today to set up a consultation: 304-931-4088.