Every vehicle operator on the road owes a duty of care to other commuters that the vehicle they are driving is in good working order and mechanically sound. Failure to regularly maintain and repair your vehicle not only increases your risk of causing serious mechanical damage to it, but it also creates a dangerous – and deadly – risk for yourself and those you share the roads with.
This is especially true for commercial trucks, which often spend thousands of miles on the roads each week. If a trucking company allows a poorly-maintained vehicle on the road, they are liable for any damages victims can suffer in truck accidents that occur as a result of that vehicle’s mechanical failures.
Horrific Injury and Death
There are countless examples of mechanical failures that cause catastrophic injuries and death to victims. One such example occurred several months ago in New York City when the wheel of a sanitation truck flew off, crashed through the windshield of a nearby vehicle, killing the 64-year-old driver. An investigation revealed that the company that owned the truck – along with a fleet of 29 others – had failed 65 percent of vehicle inspections which had been performed by the government in the prior two years.
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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the government agency who is in charge of regulating and oversight of commercial vehicle owners. The FMCSA requires owners and operators to regularly inspect and maintain their vehicles, as well as keep well-documented records of these inspections and repairs. Truck drivers are required to keep daily logs citing which systems are in good working order and where there were issues or problems. The FMCSA requires regular inspections of vehicle:
- Exhaust system
- Fuel system
- Steering system
- Suspension system
Improper Maintenance of Commercial Truck
When a trucking accident occurs because of improper maintenance of the vehicle, this FMCSA violation is a liability that the victim could use to receive financial compensation for any losses the crash has caused them to incur. If this failure was done knowingly by the trucking company, the victim may even be entitled to punitive damages. A Virginia truck accident attorney will be able to determine which types of losses you may be entitled to be compensated for.
Some of the evidence that can be used to prove this breach of duty includes the truck’s inspection logs, maintenance records, and any signs of wear and tear present on the vehicle. Some examples of these failures include:
- Failure to maintain proper tire pressure
- Failure to replace burnt out bulbs
- Failure to replace or repair suspension
- Failure to replace vehicle lubricants
- Failure to replace worn tires
- Failure to replace worn-out brakes
- Failure to replace worn-out or torn windshield wipers
- Failure to secure trailers
- Failure to use safety devices to secure cargo
Contact Shapiro & Appleton Today
If you have been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, contact a skilled Virginia truck accident attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have against the truck driver and any other parties who may be held responsible for your injuries. Our Va. personal injury firm also offers a free truck accident injury guide for accident victims. The guide covers topics such as the tactics used by truck companies to deny or reduce injury claims, common violations of trucking companies, and the difference between commercial truck insurance and other types of vehicle insurance.
After graduating cum laude from law school at the University of Richmond, Seth practiced personal injury law out of Roanoke, Virginia and in Hampton, Virginia before joining Shapiro & Appleton where he represents personal injury clients in both state and federal courts. In 2016, he was named as a Virginia “Rising Star” lawyer by Super Lawyer’s magazine, an honor bestowed upon only 2.5% of attorneys in the state.