Truck Accidents Caused by Faulty Equipment
Some accidents involving trucks or other commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are not due to driver error but instead are because of faulty equipment. Oftentimes, these types of wrecks can be prevented if the driver followed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) prior to beginning his trip.
The FMCSR mandate that before driving a motor vehicle the driver “[b]e satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition.” This process is known as a pre-trip inspection. Failure to properly inspect a truck’s equipment is extremely dangerous and negligent.
Trucking Pre-Trip Inspections and Reporting
A driver is required to perform a pre-trip inspection and prepare a report confirming the inspection took place. That report is known as a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR).
Every motor carrier must require its drivers to prepare DVIRs inspecting at least the following parts and accessories:
- Service brakes including trailer brake connections
- Parking brake
- Steering mechanism
- Lighting devices and reflectors
- Windshield wipers
- Rear vision mirrors
- Coupling devices
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
Reporting Faulty Trucking Equipment and Deficiencies
If a defect or deficiency is discovered by or reported to the driver which would affect the safety of operation of the vehicle or result in its mechanical breakdown, it must be identified on the DVIR.
For the driver of a passenger carrying CMV, he must prepare and submit a report even if no defect or deficiency is discovered by or reported to the driver. That is not the rule for property carrying drivers as they are not required to submit a report if no defect or deficiency is discovered.
In any event, every motor carrier is required to fix any defect or deficiency listed on the DVIR which would be likely to affect the safety of operation of the vehicle. Failure to
Truck Accident with DVIR Negligence
Following an accident, the DVIR can become a critically important document to determine whether a mechanical breakdown or failure was the cause.
If the driver found a defect or deficiency with the CMV and noted it on the DVIR, yet nothing was done to repair the problem, that could lead to a punitive damage award in favor of the injured party.
According to the FMCSR, every motor carrier is required to maintain the DVIRs, the certification of repairs, and the certification of the driver’s review for three months from the date the DVIR was prepared.
If the DVIRs are not retained, that could lead to spoliation sanctions against the motor carrier. Ultimately, it is important to remember that Commercial Motor Carriers are held to a higher standard and must adhere to a federally mandated mandated process following an accident – potentially including drug testing, driver log reviews, DVIR review, and more.
If you have been involved in a truck accident and are not sure what to do next, it is vital you talk to an expert.