Poor truck maintenance is a very predictable cause of some major truck accidents. Not taking proper care of a truck, tractor trailer or other large vehicles slowly but very surely lets it deteriorate over time, leading to a host of problems that can cause a crash.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a truck accident in Georgia that only happened because the vehicle was poorly maintained, you may be entitled to compensation from the person or company responsible. The truck accident lawyers at the Hadden Law Firm can help.
What Maintenance is Required?
Government regulations aim to keep everyone on the road safe by legally requiring trucking companies to take appropriate steps towards keeping their trucks in good working order. However, those regulations recognize that different kinds of trucks – and even different models or even specific vehicles – have their own needs.
As a result, the rules in 49 CFR § 396 that apply to truck maintenance are left deliberately vague. Rather than specific requirements, for example, 49 CFR § 396.3 merely requires certain parties to “systematically inspect, repair, and maintain” their vehicles. Those steps must be made to ensure the trucking fleet is kept in a “safe operating condition.”
Unfortunately, this puts trucking companies and truckers in the powerful position of deciding what it means for a truck to be in a safe operating condition. Given that they have a financial incentive to keep their trucks on the roads as much as possible and minimize the expenses associated with maintaining their trucks, it should hardly come as a surprise that many trucking companies do as little as possible to uphold their legal duties.
Who is Responsible for Maintaining a Truck?
Both the owner of the vehicle as well as the driver can have legal obligations related to its maintenance. Where the line is drawn between the driver and the owner – often the trucking company that employs the driver – can be crucially important.
Under federal regulations, drivers have a legal duty to inspect their vehicles before heading out on a trip. They have to review the last vehicle inspection report, be satisfied that the truck is in “safe operating condition,” and sign an inspection report.
Reports of defects made by drivers can shift legal responsibility to the truck's owner – often the trucking company. If the company fails to take appropriate action, they can be liable for crashes that happen because they did not maintain the vehicle.
Because there are multiple parties that can be responsible for truck maintenance, though, it is not uncommon for a truck accident case to get complicated when they point the finger at each other in order to avoid paying for the costs of what happened.
Types of Truck Accidents That Can Happen After Maintenance Failures
When drivers do not inspect their vehicles well – something that happens shockingly often, as the driver wants to get on the road as quickly as possible – serious problems can go undetected. Even if an issue is found, poor maintenance practices can leave it unresolved, allowing trucks to hit the road with major safety problems, like:
- Weak or failing brakes,
- Tires that are prone to blowing out,
- Broken headlights,
- Turn signals that do not work, or
- Hitches that are weak and can uncouple.
Any one of these problems can cause a serious and possibly even fatal truck accident.
How Victims Can Recover Compensation After a Truck Accident
Victims who have been hurt after being hit by a truck because the truck was poorly maintained deserve to be compensated. After all, there was little that they could have done to avoid the accident, and the person or company who acted negligently or wrongfully should be held accountable.
By filing a personal injury lawsuit against the trucker and the trucking company, victims can formally demand that compensation.
Truck Accident Lawyers at the Hadden Law Firm Serve Victims in Georgia
Trucking companies have a financial incentive to put off maintaining their fleet of trucks. That is why the federal government has felt the need to make them legally obligated to maintain their vehicles. Nevertheless, many trucking companies will still do whatever they can to avoid their duties and maximize their profits.
Innocent people are put at risk, and when that risk results in a truck accident that leaves one of those victims hurt, the trucking company should be made to pay for what they have done. The truck accident lawyers at the Hadden Law Firm can help make that happen. Contact them online if you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck crash in Georgia.