Articles Posted in Truck Inspections

Truck drivers, like all other motorists, have a duty to other motorists on the road to ensure that they operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. This includes only driving when it is safe to do so as well as taking precautions to ensure that their vehicles are safe. A driver’s failure to take the necessary precautions increases the chance that a serious or fatal accident will occur and also exposes that driver to civil liability for any injuries that occur as a result of his negligence.

Liability in a trucking accident may also extend to the company that employed the negligent truck driver. In some cases, a trucking company overlooks safety violations, fails to conduct adequate background checks, or otherwise employs unqualified truck drivers or dangerous vehicles. In these situations, the trucking company may be held liable for the accident victim’s injuries in addition to the truck’s driver.

Georgia Trucking Company Ordered to Remove Trucks from Operation Based on an “Imminent Hazard to Public Safety”

Earlier this month, a Georgia-based trucking company was ordered to remove its fleet from the road after a series of serious safety violations. According to an industry news source, the most recent incident involved a truck driver who was speeding around a curve and lost control of his vehicle. The truck then crashed into a woman’s home, causing an explosion and subsequent fire. Sadly, the woman in the home was killed as a result, and four others present were seriously injured. In all, four homes sustained property damage.

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As many people in the personal injury area have spoken of numerous times, both here and elsewhere on the Web, the trucking industry has not exactly been a paragon of safety or vigorous self regulation. In fact, as many may already know, some truckers and commercial trucking companies have gone out of their way to flout the law, as well as state and federal regulators in an effort to cut costs, improve profits and avoid fines and penalties for unlawful acts.

That said, we agree that these violators likely represent a small fraction of the trucking industry as a whole; however, such a statement may be cold comfort to families of victims killed or seriously injured in tractor-trailer collisions. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we understand how much pain and suffering can be meted out by a 80,000-pound semi tractor-trailer rig whose driver may have negligently caused to crash into a smaller passenger vehicle.

As an aside, we will remind our readers that being caught up in a trucking-related crash can prove to be a harrowing and sometimes fatal occurrence. Many a Maryland motorist has been trapped in a crushed vehicle, perhaps one that has caught fire as a result of a collision with a big rig or commercial delivery truck, and had to wait helplessly for emergency responders to arrive and rescue them.

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).

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For most of the drivers here in Maryland and Washington, D.C., maintaining the safety of oneself and one’s vehicle occupants involves more than a modicum of active participation. In short, to survive in this part of the country a drive must, out of necessity, watch out for the other guy.

What this means for the average passenger car, light truck and motorcycle rider is to be certain that your vehicle is well-maintained, tuned up and mechanically safe and sound. We won’t go into a discussion on the dangers of defective vehicle equipment here, but suffice it to say that a percentage of roadway wrecks are sometimes found to be a result of poorly designed safety components and other critical systems, such as steering and braking systems (an area of law known as Products Liability).

As Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my legal staff understand the causes of many traffic accidents and how easily a quiet Sunday drive can turn into a serious and sometimes life-threatening event. Keeping a vehicle in good running condition is a basic requirement for safe driving. This goes as much for automobiles as it does for commercial trucks, usually more so.

Speaking of trucking-related accidents, one cannot argue with the laws of physics when it comes to serious traffic accidents involving semi tractor-trailers, such as Kenworths, Peterbilts, and Mack Trucks; not to mention large box trucks and rather heavy and extremely dangerous tanker trucks.

Many passenger car occupants, not to mention motorcyclists, are killed on a tragically frequent basis when they become caught involved in a crash with a commercial delivery vehicle or 18-wheeler. Those smaller, lighter and less substantial motor vehicles are hardly a match for a fully loaded semi, commuter bus or dump truck. Injuries from car-truck collision can take months or years to recover from, both physically and financially, which makes prevention a no-brainer.

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To some repair garages, dishonest trucking companies and thoughtless semi tractor-trailer drivers, saving some cash now is worth the risk of causing a serious traffic accident in the future. Cause and effect are not always considered by unscrupulous garage owners and the semi truck drivers that employ them. But the dangers are real and the results can be deadly in many cases.

As Baltimore trucking accident attorneys, our office helps the victims of 18-wheeler and commercial big-rig accidents. For those unfortunate families who have lost a loved one as a result of another person’s negligence, emotions can run very high especially when deception and outright fraud are involved.

This was apparently the situation in a case where the owner of a repair garage allegedly sold inspection stickers for a 1997 Kenworth semi with worn brakes that killed a motorist along the Schuylkill Expressway in 2009. New reports say that the garage owner, 62-year-old Joseph Jadczak pled guilty in 2009 to vehicular homicide and also to permitting the operation of a motor vehicle equipped with unsafe equipment.

Commercial trucks have a large number of moving parts and components that, when working properly, help truck drivers safely deliver goods across the country. Maryland truck accident attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have litigated cases where one or more of these components have failed and caused an accident. Federal law requires trucks to conduct pre-trip and post-trip inspections of the vehicles and to record the results in an inspection log. If a trucker fails to adequately inspect all of the truck’s basic parts, the driver may be guilty of negligence if one of those components fail and cause a truck accident.

The law states that a truck driver must inspect his truck and assure himself that all of the major components are functional. However, many drivers perform perfunctory inspections and note only a nominal inspection time in their logs. In a situation where a mechanical failure caused an accident, uncovering a driver’s failure to adequately inspect the truck before taking it on the road is crucial. Through the discovery process, Maryland truck accident attorneys attempt to get a negligent truck driver to give a detailed description of his pre-trip investigation in order to uncover any discrepancies.

Typically, we may ask a truck driver to give the exact amount of time he spent inspecting each of the following parts of his truck:
• Service brakes, including the trailer break connections for all axles;
• Parking/hand brakes;
• The steering mechanism;
• Light devices and reflectors;
• The truck’s tires
• Any straps or chains used to secure the load;
• The truck’s horn;
• Windshield wipers; and
• Rear view mirrors;

If amount of time the trucker allegedly spent inspecting each component does not match the amount of time indicated in the log, the discrepancy may call the trucker’s credibility into question when the case goes to trial.

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