As professionals operating massive and potentially dangerous motor vehicles on public roads, truckers and the commercial fleet operators that employ them have both a moral and legal responsibility to the driving public. The firms are required to maintain their trucks to federal standards and to operate them safely on the nation’s highways. Unfortunately, with so many commercial vehicles plying the roads, there are bound to be more than a few poor drivers and some less-than-scrupulous trucking firms.
As Maryland personal injury lawyers representing victims of car, truck and motorcycle accidents, we know all too well the damage and harm that even a single semi tractor-trailer or large delivery truck can do to a passenger car, minivan or sport utility vehicle. Needless to say, the occupants of these smaller vehicles can receive serious and sometimes fatal injuries as a result of a commercial trucking wreck.
During a car-truck collision, the extent of bodily injury can range from lacerations and broken bones to internal injuries and closed-head trauma. Depending on the circumstances and other factors, vehicle fires can also erupt threatening any occupant who happens to be trapped inside the passenger car. As one might imagine, many traffic accidents involving large trucks — such as Peterbilts, Macks and Kenworths — can cause fatal injuries as well.
When the negligent party is found to be the trucker or company that employed him or her, it is likely that the victim or his family may seek to file a personal injury claim against those negligent parties. According to recent news reports, a Maryland trucking firm that was deemed to be a hazard to public safety was ordered to shut down its operations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Stating that Gunthers Transport LLChas had a long history of safety violations, the FMCSA ordered the Hanover, MD, company to cease operations. Citing numerous violations of federal safety regulations, not to mention a fatal trucking accident last August, the FMCSA called the company a “imminent hazard” to the public.
Based on news articles, action by the FMCSA was the culmination of a two-year assessment of that firm’s safety performance. The results of the federal agency’s investigation indicated that Gunthers Transport had serious deficiencies in four out of seven safety categories, including vehicle maintenance, driving safety, driver fitness and prevention of driver fatigue.
For those who are not familiar with the legal and regulatory power of the agency, the FMCSA’s “imminent-hazard” classification allows it to take unilateral action to shut down a company that poses a threat to the public. According to reports, the FMCSA issued such an order against just ten firms during the last federal budget year.
As part of the investigation, the FMCSA determined that Gunthers drivers routinely violated hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. In addition, following last August’s fatal traffic accident involving a Gunthers truck, the Maryland State Police reportedly turned up evidence of excessively worn tires, defective brakes and inoperative turn signals on the suspect vehicle.
The FMCSA also found that nearly every vehicle in the Gunthers Transport fleet had some type of substantial safety problem; this, based on inspections performed in the past six months, according to FMCSA. Frightening to think that after two compliance reviews back in ‘08 and another two in 2011, the FMCSA determined that Gunthers had been operating vehicles previously listed as “out of service,” and that the firm was reportedly falsifying the records of drivers who had drug and alcohol violations.
Based on news reports, Gunthers is prohibited from resuming operation until its fleet can meet a number of stringent conditions, including designing a plan to re-train its drivers and taking “immediate, aggressive and progressive” steps toward controlling its drivers’ hours of service.
Maryland trucking firm called ‘imminent hazard,’ shut down, Fleetowner.com, November 22, 2011