18 Wheeler Accidents
Commercial interstate tractor-trailer companies and drivers have to abide by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSR). This federal law specifies multiple requirements that each motor carrier and driver has to comply with to be legal and on the road.
The fact of the matter is – many carriers don’t. Many carriers do not train or qualify their drivers in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, yet still allow their drivers to transport material weighing up to or in excess of 80,000 pounds on the public highways.
For example, before a trucking company can allow a driver behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer it must comply with the following:
391.51 General requirements for driver qualification files
a) Each motor carrier shall maintain a driver qualification file for each driver it employs. A driver’s qualification file may be combined with his/her personnel file.
(b) The qualification file for a driver must include: 1) The driver’s application for employment completed in accordance with §391.21; 2) A copy of the motor vehicle record received from each State record pursuant to §391.23(a)(1); 3) The certificate of driver’s road test issued to the driver pursuant to §391.31(e), or a copy of the license or certificate which the motor carrier accepted as equivalent to the driver’s road test pursuant to §391.33; 4) The motor vehicle record received from each State driver licensing agency to the annual driver record inquiry required by §391.25(a); 5) A note relating to the annual review of the driver’s driving record as required by §391.25(c)(2); 6) A list or certificate relating to violations of motor vehicle laws and ordinances required by § 391.27; 7)(i) The medical examiner’s certificate as required by § 391.43(g) or a legible copy of the certificate. (ii) Exception. For CDL holders, beginning January 30, 2012, if the CDLIS motor vehicle record contains medical certification status information, the motor carrier employer must meet this requirement by obtaining the CDLIS motor vehicle record defined at § 384.105 of this chapter. That record must be obtained from the current licensing State and placed in the driver qualification file. After January 30, 2014, a non-excepted, interstate CDL holder without medical certification status information on the CDLIS motor vehicle record is designated “not-certified” to operate a CMV in interstate commerce. After January 30, 2014, a motor carrier may use a copy of the driver’s current medical examiner’s certificate that was submitted to the State for up to 15 days from the date it was issued as proof of medical certification. (iii) If that driver obtained the medical certification based on having obtained a medical variance from FMCSA, the motor carrier must also include a copy of the medical variance documentation in the driver qualification file in accordance with § 391.51(b)(8); and 8) A Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate obtained from a Field Administrator, Division Administrator, or State Director issued in accordance with § 391.49; or the Medical Exemption document, issued by a Federal medical program in accordance with part 381 of this chapter.
(c) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, each driver’s qualification file shall be retained for as long as a driver is employed by that motor carrier and for three years thereafter.
d) The following records may be removed from a driver’s qualification file three years after the date of execution: 1) The motor vehicle record received from each State driver licensing agency to the annual driver record inquiry required by § 391.25(a); 2) The note relating to the annual review of the driver’s driving record as required by § 391.25(c)(2); 3) The list or certificate relating to violations of motor vehicle laws and ordinances required by § 391.27; 4) The medical examiner’s certificate required by § 391.43(g), a legible copy of the certificate, or for CDL drivers any CDLIS MVR obtained as required by § 391.51(b)(7)(ii); and 5) Any medical variance issued by FMCSA, including a Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate issued in accordance with § 391.49; or the Medical Exemption letter issued by a Federal medical program in accordance with part 381 of this chapter.
As you can imagine, many carriers comply with few, if any, of these laws. If you have been involved in an accident involving a commercial motor carrier, the true value of your case will not be known until the misdeeds of the carrier are known. This typically only comes to light after a suit is filed and the discovery process is conducted. Often, our office has discovered drivers without the proper qualifications to be on the road: drivers with expired medical cards, expired CDL’s, drivers without the proper training to be on the road, and companies that do not train or follow safety training requirements or requirements to qualify their drivers. The truth can only be exposed if you have an attorney that is not afraid to litigate and knows what to look for and where to look for it.
In today’s world, insurance companies treat auto accident claims as a nuisance. They typically undermine any injuries, they try to settle cheap, and they try to underpay you for your property damage. Our office handles auto accidents like any other litigation case. If we do not feel you are being treated fairly in relation to your injuries, we file suit, conduct discovery and try your case to a jury. Our goal is to force insurance companies to treat you fairly – we are not a mill that takes a high volume of cases and settles cheap. If you have been involved in a car accident, contact our office and we will treat your case with the same importance and priority we treat every other case