Road accidents involving large commercial trucks can cause catastrophic injuries and even death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2021 alone, 5,788 people died in crashes involving large trucks, and 154,993 more suffered serious injuries. The truck industry is regulated by federal and state laws and regulations aimed at promoting safety and reducing the number of accidents. As a result, truck companies have a legal responsibility to ensure that their drivers and vehicles are safe on the road.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates and enforces safety laws for the truck industry. The FMCSA lays down safety regulations for truck companies, including rules on Hours-of-Service (HOS) for drivers, vehicle maintenance requirements, and the employment of qualified, licensed truck drivers.
Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules limit the number of hours truck drivers can drive consecutively and per day, to reduce the risk of fatigue-related accidents. Truck companies are required to maintain records of their drivers' HOS and ensure that their drivers comply with these regulations to minimize the risk of accidents.
Driver Training and Safety Policies
In addition to regulating truck drivers' hours of service, truck companies are also responsible for ensuring their drivers are trained and qualified to operate these massive vehicles. Proper driver training programs should be in place to ensure that truck drivers know how to safely operate commercial trucks. It's also important for companies to have comprehensive safety policies in place, such as protocols for reporting incidents or red-flagging unsafe driving practices, and to conduct regular safety reviews.
Proper Vehicle Maintenance
Truck companies are responsible for maintaining their vehicles and ensuring that they are in good working condition. Proper vehicle maintenance is critical to the safety of the driver, other motorists, and pedestrians. Regular inspections and maintenance checks can prevent accidents caused by neglected or faulty equipment. Failure to provide proper maintenance can result in accidents due to brake failure, tire blowouts, or other mechanical defects.
Related Reading: "Proving a Truck Company's Improper Maintenance of Its Trucks"
Legal Responsibility for Hiring and Monitoring Drivers
Truck companies are also held accountable for hiring qualified and licensed drivers who meet the industry's rigorous standards. The company should conduct thorough background checks, drug testing, and other assessments to ensure drivers are safe and competent. Once hired, companies are responsible for monitoring their drivers.
For instance, they should be aware of their drivers' HOS compliance, monitor their driving records, and ensure that their drivers maintain the necessary qualifications to operate commercial trucks. Failure to conduct proper screenings or monitor their drivers can lead to accidents due to incompetence or substance abuse.
Importance of Advocacy
Truck accidents can result in devastating consequences for the victim, including physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial hardships. Compensation through legal advocacy can help victims pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Moreover, it can help hold truck companies accountable for their negligence and prevent future accidents caused by the same negligence. Legal advocacy for truck accident victims can provide them with the support and resources they need to recover after a traumatic experience and move forward with their lives.
Ultimately, legal advocacy is essential for truck accident victims because it ensures that they are provided with the appropriate compensation for the damages caused by the accident. It helps create awareness and accountability for the truck companies that are responsible for the negligence, and it can prevent future accidents from happening. Therefore, individuals who have been involved in a truck accident should seek legal advice immediately to ensure that their rights are protected and that they receive the justice and compensation they deserve.
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident call McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry, P.A. today at (505) 405-4441 for a free consultation.