Every year, thousands of victims lose their lives and suffer catastrophic injuries in devastating commercial truck accidents. As victims try to pick up the pieces and recover from an 18-wheeler accident, an investigation may find that the collision could have been prevented with due care by the trucking company. Trucking companies can take many actions to help prevent these disasters.
Adhere to Federal Trucking Rules and Regulations
Commercial trucking companies and operators are known as common carriers. As such, they are subject to special federal rules and regulations that do not apply to standard motor vehicles. These laws are enforced by an agency called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Common carriers must adhere to hundreds of rules regarding their practices and operations. They include:
- Truck driver hiring and training practices
- Drug and alcohol testing requirements
- Fleet maintenance and inspection minimums
- Truck equipment requirements
- Cargo loading and securement laws
- Special rules for hazardous materials
- Truck driver hours-of-service regulations
Federal trucking laws are in place to help preserve public safety. If a truck company or driver violates a law, this increases the risk of a harmful trucking accident. Company negligence or illegal acts such as failing to hire licensed or qualified commercial drivers, ignoring fleet maintenance requirements, and pressuring drivers to break the rules to save time or money may all be identified as causes of a truck accident in Pennsylvania.
Hire and Retain Safe Truck Drivers
Negligent truck drivers are often behind serious and fatal trucking accidents. Negligence refers to any act or omission that a reasonably prudent truck driver would not commit in the same or similar circumstances. Common examples of truck driver negligence include distracted driving, drowsy driving, driving under the influence, texting and driving, speeding, and violating traffic laws.
Trucking companies may be able to prevent accidents caused by negligent drivers by engaging in proper hiring and retention practices. Trucking companies should only hire drivers with valid commercial driver’s licenses, for example, and take the time to properly train them in the correct use and operation of a large tractor-trailer. If a truck driver is guilty of dangerous or careless driving behaviors, the truck company has a responsibility to suspend or terminate the driver.
Properly Maintain Its Fleet of Trucks
Large trucks are complex motor vehicles with thousands of moving pieces. If even one part or piece of equipment on a big rig breaks or falls into a state of disrepair, this increases the risk of a truck accident. Trucking companies have a duty to regularly inspect and maintain a large truck and schedule professional repairs, as needed. The parts of a truck that should be periodically checked include:
- Electrical system
- Belts and hoses
- Trailer connections
- Fuel tanks
If any truck part appears old, worn out, damaged or faulty, it must be replaced before the truck is allowed back on the road. Missing parts that are required, such as a rear underride guard or emergency equipment, is also against the law. Defective product lawyers in Pittsburgh know the risk of faulty auto parts and have handled injury cases involving auto part defects. Failing to properly maintain a fleet of vehicles can result in a preventable truck accident that traces back to the fault of the truck company.
Did a Negligent Trucking Company Cause Your Accident?
If you get injured in a commercial truck accident in Pittsburgh, you may be able to recover financial compensation from the trucking company or another negligent party. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Pittsburgh can help determine if the company could be found at fault for examples of negligence, including violated federal laws, poor fleet maintenance and unsafe driver hiring practices.
In many cases, trucking companies can also be held vicariously liable for the mistakes of their drivers as an employer. Contact a Pittsburgh truck accident lawyer at Dallas W. Hartman, P.C. for legal advice and assistance proving fault if you get injured in a truck accident in Pittsburgh. A successful claim against a trucking company could hold it accountable and result in financial compensation for your losses.