Trucking accidents are different from regular automobile accidents. Interstate truckers have to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) and meet minimum federal safety standards called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMSCR”). A carrier must have safety management controls in place to reduce risks associated with the use of unqualified drivers, CDL violations, fatigued drivers, unsafe vehicle operation, reporting accidents, and proper inspection, repair, and maintenance of vehicles. Failure to follow the FMSCR could result in a negligence suit against the Carrier.
The Carrier can also be held vicariously liable if the driver committs a tort while acting within the scope of his employment. This legal term is known as “respondeat superior.” However, a Carrier is usually not held liable if the employee is acting clearly outside the scope of interests of the company, or on a “frolic.” The Carrier can also be sued for negligent hiring, retention, or entrustment. This occurs when the Carrier knew, or should have known, that the driver was deficient or incompetent, yet still allows him to drive a commercial vehicle. Insurance companies routinely screen or hire drivers for smaller trucking companies and could also be potentially liable for a negligent hiring. Trucking companies can be held liable for negligent inspection, maintenance, or repair and a shipping company can be held liable for failing to properly secure the load. Brokers or middle-men can also be held liable by courts for failing to check a motor carrier’s safety record.
It is imperative for a trucking accident victim to hire a competent truck accident lawyer. He can investigate the accident and secure documents through discovery in order to gain important evidence. Kunes Law Office sends a spoilation letter to the trucking company, ordering them to preserve relevant documents and to not modify the truck wreckage. Documents such as daily logs and inspection reports, driver history, maintenance records, bills of lading, lease agreements, permits, emails, and on-board recording devices are all such items we identify and demand to be preserved. We also hire accident reconstructionists to investigate and document the accident scene, as well as qualified truck experts to conduct an inspection of the vehicle wreckage. Patrick Kunes is also a member of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America (“APITLA”). Each member of APITLA has pledged to work aggressively within the law through learning, legislation and litigation to achieve the mission of dramatically reducing the number of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths across America that are caused by those trucking companies who are unsafe.
LET OUR ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS HANDLE ALL COMMUNICATIONS WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES! Insurance adjusters often record telephone conversations or ask questions to get specific information from you. This information could be used against you to defeat your personal injury claim. Our trucking lawyers will handle all contacts with the adjuster to make certain that your rights are fully protected. Call (229) 382-4900 to schedule an appointment or feel free to walk in to our downtown Tifton office.