Improper Maintenance of Trucks

Motor Vehicle Collision Attorneys Assisting Residents of Los Angeles

Commercial vehicles require a substantial amount of maintenance. Truck drivers are required to routinely inspect their vehicles before they go out with them, and trucking companies are supposed to make sure that their employees follow the safety regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and state laws. Unfortunately, many commercial drivers fail to follow regulations, and many trucking companies look the other way because it is hard to find qualified drivers. If you have been injured because of a poorly maintained rig in Los Angeles or the surrounding area, the truck accident lawyers at Sharifi Firm can help investigate the details of your situation and craft a strategy to pursue compensation.

Liability for Improper Maintenance of Trucks

Subsections 396.1-396.25 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provide detailed rules about periodic inspections, brake inspections, truck maintenance, repairs, and recordkeeping procedures that trucking companies are required to follow. All commercial motor carriers must inspect, repair, and maintain the vehicles under their control. Each time a truck driver leaves with a commercial vehicle, he or she must inspect the vehicle. When an interstate commercial motor carrier is involved in a road accident and is found to have violated §396.17 (periodic inspections), the truck company may be subject to penalties.

Often, truck drivers are working when a crash occurs. If you are an accident victim in California, you can potentially hold a trucking company responsible for a driver's negligence under the doctrine of respondeat superior if the driver was in the "course and scope of employment." This is a theory of indirect liability.

However, if a trucking company fails to follow an FMCSA safety regulation for maintenance, it may be directly liable and considered negligent per se, or as a matter of law. Negligence per se is a doctrine that creates a presumption of negligence if a defendant violates a safety law and causes an injury as a result of that violation. If a trucking company violates maintenance laws designed to ensure safety, the trucking company is presumed negligent, and the plaintiff will not need to prove the negligence. The defendant still has the opportunity to prove it was not negligent, but it is the defendant’s burden to prove it was not negligent, rather than the plaintiff's job to prove negligence, once the plaintiff shows a safety violation caused the accident.

Under the FMCSA, most motor carriers are required to maintain inspection and repair records in the vehicle for 30 consecutive days. They must be kept where a truck is maintained for at least one year and for six months after the truck company transfers, sells, or retires a vehicle. In general, you should retain an attorney as soon as possible, so that the attorney can review the inspection records. If you wait longer than the requisite one year or six months, the trucking company may destroy the records that would have proved negligence.

Seek Legal Guidance in Los Angeles for Your Truck Accident Case

Truck drivers and trucking companies may try to evade liability for a serious accident. Los Angeles residents who have been harmed by their carelessness can consult a motor vehicle collision attorney who is experienced at dealing with the trucking industry and its attorneys and insurers. Sharifi Firm also represents accident victims in Riverside, San Bernardino, Temecula, and Rancho Cucamonga, among other Southern California cities. Contact us at 1-866-422-7222 or via our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.


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