Truck Accidents

Truck Maintenance and Accidents: Who Is Liable?

Tractor-trailers undergo an enormous amount of wear and tear every single day, putting on hundreds more miles than the average passenger vehicle. That’s why the FMCSA has rigorous inspection requirements for tractor-trailers. What happens when a truck that has been poorly maintained—or not maintained at all—goes on to cause an accident?

If you’ve been injured because of a negligent trucking company or driver, you need the team at Bailey Javins & Carter behind you. Call us at 800-497-0234 to set up a consultation right away.

Trucking Companies’ Maintenance Responsibilities

Trucking companies are ultimately responsible for the safety and maintenance of their vehicles. At a bare minimum, they are responsible for meeting the guidelines set out by the FMCSA. However, that is the minimum—most responsible trucking companies will have more rigorous standards and protocols in place to ensure that unsafe vehicles are not hitting the road.

Companies should have strict requirements regarding truck inspections and what those inspections cover. An inspection should look for issues in areas that suffer significant wear and tear, such as brakes, tires, and the engine. It’s important that companies keep logs of these inspections so they can track any potential issues.

Even if a truck doesn’t have any obvious issues, it should still receive routine maintenance. This routine maintenance can prevent something more serious from going wrong. Trucks often need routine maintenance on their engine, brakes, and tires. Regular oil changes are also an important part of truck maintenance.

Companies also have an obligation to train their drivers on routine inspections, maintenance work, and how to report apparent safety issues. This creates a fleet of drivers who are empowered to catch safety defects and save lives.

Finally, trucking companies must take swift action to address any repair needs. When an issue is reported by a driver or mechanic, they must take reasonable steps to schedule a prompt repair.

A Driver’s Role in Maintenance

Drivers play an important part in truck safety. They are the ones who spend every day with their truck, so they are most likely to know when something isn’t quite right. Prior to each trip, they should perform an inspection that looks over the key components of the vehicle. They should document this inspection and report any irregularities to their employer.

Another important part of maintenance is ensuring that a truck is properly loaded. Even if the driver plays no role in the loading of their truck, they should be able to call out improper loading that can put too much strain on their vehicle and cause a crash.

In-route inspections are often required on long-haul trips. Inspections conducted throughout a long trip can catch growing issues and allow a driver to address them before they are serious enough to cause a collision.

Just like trucking companies must, truck drivers are expected to adhere to all federal regulations when it comes to vehicle inspection and maintenance. On top of that, they should uphold their employer’s standards and protocols. These standards and protocols can be stricter than federal regulations, but can never be more lax than those regulations.

When Maintenance Isn’t Enough—Vehicle Defects

In most cases, trucking companies are liable when their lack of maintenance leads to an accident. However, there are scenarios in which liability lies with the manufacturer. No matter how routinely a company performs inspections, it may not be enough to catch inherent flaws in a vehicle. Because these flaws are unexpected and are often invisible until they actually cause a crash, trucking companies aren’t always liable. 

When a crash is caused by a faulty component or truck, liability will lie with the manufacturer. Your attorney is required to show that the manufacturer either knew about the defect or could have been expected to know about the defect had they done proper safety testing.

Reach Out to Bailey Javins & Carter to Start Your Truck Accident Claim

No matter what caused your truck accident, you’re likely left with injuries, a damaged car, and no clue of what you should do next. Let us help you. Set up a consultation right away by getting in touch online or calling us at 800-497-0234.