There can be several factors contributing to a truck accident. A distracted, fatigued, or intoxicated trucker can certainly lack the response time and driving abilities necessary to ensure roadway safety, but a poorly maintained truck can be just as dangerous in the hands of a safe driver. That’s why there are several federal trucking regulations aimed at ensuring proper truck maintenance. And these regulations could be key to your truck accident claim.
How a poorly maintained truck poses a threat
The exact risk that an improperly maintained big rig poses depends on the circumstances at hand. A truck with defective brakes, for example, will be at a greater risk of causing a rear-end collision, whereas a truck with damaged tires can experience a blowout that causes the trucker to lose control, resulting in a multi-vehicle collision. As frightening as that is, the reality is that the risks posed by an improperly maintained truck can be extensive and severe.
How truck problems should be caught
Under federal regulations, trucks are supposed to be inspected rather frequently. In fact, a trucker is supposed to complete an inspection report at the end of every trip. Here, the trucker should identify any defects or deficiencies, and that report should be provided to the company that owns the truck. The owner of the truck must then correct the deficiency or defect to ensure safety, and those repairs must be certified.
In addition to post-trip inspections, each big rig should be subjected to an annual inspection. This inspection should assess each of the following:
- The braking system
- Coupling devices
- The exhaust system
- The fuel system
- The truck’s lights
- All teering mechanisms
- The truck’s suspension
- The truck’s frame
- All tires
- The windshield
- All windshield wipers
Of course, each of these systems have their own individual components that need to be analyzed, and a deficiency in any one of them could spell trouble for other motorists who on the road.
Building a case on improper maintenance
While most truck accident cases focus on the driving actions of the trucker involved, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of truck maintenance records. Given that truck companies are required to keep inspection and maintenance records for a significant period, those who have been injured in a truck accident should be able to access those records, even if they must do so through a subpoena. Once those records are in hand, a truck accident victim can better determine whether inspections were appropriately through and timely and whether adequate repairs were made before releasing the truck for operation. If significant federal maintenance regulations are found to have been violated, then your claim may be well positioned for success.
You also can’t overlook the importance of a deposition. By conducting a deposition about maintenance, you can better gauge whether the truck company’s records are accurate. If those records have been falsified in any fashion, then, again, your case may be in a stronger position than you realize.
Thoroughly build the personal injury case that you deserve
As you can see, there can be many moving parts to a truck accident personal injury case. But you have to be thorough and address every aspect of your claim if you hope to maximize your chances of success. This certainly means knowing liability law, but it also entails familiarizing yourself with federal regulations, the rules of evidence and trial practice, and developing persuasive legal arguments. As daunting as that may seem, its not a process that you have to improvise through. Rather, you can have a competent legal ally on your side to help you advocate for an outcome that is fair and just.