Truck Wreck Cases: Part Two of Two

Posted On August 31st, 2011 By CSSFIRM.COM

As previously alluded to in Part One, setting up an investigation after a truck collision, has got to be done as quickly as possible.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations is a set of rules issued by the United States Department of Transportation, which govern tractor-trailers.  Trucking accidents are sometime the result of a violation of one of these rules.  According to Rule 391.21, companies are required to keep the driver’s detailed application forms, called a Driver Qualification file. Before a trucking company can hire a driver, they must first obtain: (a) verification of all prior truck driver’s licenses; (b) verification of the driver’s prior truck driving experience; (c) verification of all prior crashes and traffic tickets in the prior three years; and (d) contact all of the prior trucking companies that the driver worked for over the last three years.

A different rule requires a potential employer to request three years of driving history from the DMV before hiring; if the driver does not meet the minimum standards, the company must decline to hire.  What sometimes happens is a company does not follow these simple steps.   If they fail to research like they are required to, then the company has acted negligently.  When a company does that and acts with “negligent hiring” or “negligent retention”, a trucking company can be held legally liable for injuries resulting from one of their drivers who should never have been employed in the first place.


Fatigued Drivers Are Dangerous Drivers

Crashes often occur simply because of tired driving.   Part of section 395.3 requires that the maximum driving time a trucker transporting property can drive is 11 cumulative total hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.  If the driver has been working a total of 14 hours in a day, regardless of whether he was driving or not, he cannot drive any more that day.  Truckers underreport their actual hours driven.  The driving records are made to look like the driver has driven less than what he says.  A tired driver is a distracted driver – exactly what the rule is intended to prevent.  Depositions and comparing the driver’s gas station receipts, GPS tracking points and dispatch reports with his hours of service logs may help in catching the lie.

Punitive Damages Can Be Warranted

When truly egregious behavior is demonstrated and a driver or his company engages in reckless or wanton conduct i.e. driving drunk, driving a truck with known problems, or knowingly ignoring important safety federal regulations, an attorney may make a request for punitive damages.  Punitive damages are not always warranted, but if the facts of a particular case reveal a major flaw with the driver or trucking company then asking for an award of punitive damages is most certainly appropriate.

Georgia Statute of Limitations:

Whether a case is settled before a jury ever walks into a courtroom is contingent on a lot of factors.  Maybe the trucking company feels that they should only pay a certain settlement or maybe you want to obtain justice in a courtroom.  A lot goes into deciding whether to settle or litigate.  But no matter what strategy you employ, filing a lawsuit within two years of the date of the wreck is crucial.  A statute of limitations is the given time period during which a legal action can be made. If the time period ends, it is a complete bar to any recovery if your case is not completely settled or the lawsuit is not served on the appropriate parties prior to this date or properly filed. Georgia has a statute of limitations of two years with trucking accidents.

Legal Representation Helps:

If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck accident, feel free to contact our Truck Accident Lawyers to see how we can help protect your legal rights. In addition to providing a free review of your claim, our Truck Collision Attorneys can also provide valuable insight into dealing with your injuries and precautions you should consider.

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