If you were in a crash caused by a defective truck, you should speak with an experienced semi-truck accident lawyer from Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. right away. If the trucker involved in the crash failed to spot a dangerous defect in a pre-trip inspection, this may be evidence of negligence that supports your claim for compensation.
Federal law requires semi-truck drivers to inspect their vehicles – including the cab, trailer, and cargo – before heading out onto the road. This is to ensure that the trucks are safe to operate for both the trucker and other motorists on the road. However, the law does not dictate each step of pre-trip inspections. This leaves a lot of room in regard to which parts and systems truckers check before driving, and what they skim or entirely skip. When drivers rush through inspections or simply choose not to look at certain parts of the truck, they may miss defects that could cause a devastating accident.
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Title 49 of the Federal Code, Section 396.13 states that before driving a motor vehicle, the driver must:
In addition to a pre-trip inspection, drivers must also thoroughly review the truck’s condition once every 24 hours. These daily inspections are regulated by Section 396.11 and are documented in the DVIR. However, the pre-trip inspections are not similarly regulated. Federal law does not specifically state which parts of a semi-truck need to be reviewed prior to heading out on the road. Instead, many truckers rely on a checklist, their employer’s requirements, or their own experience.
Pre-trip inspections may not be heavily regulated by federal law, however, they are essential. During pre-trip inspections, truckers determine if any previous problems were sufficiently addressed. This ensures a trucker does not operate a vehicle that had a defect that was not properly repaired.
The pre-trip inspections can also detect new issues that arose after the truck was last maintained or driven. It could be a problem that needs to be addressed immediately or an issue that should be looked at as soon as possible. Overall, pre-trip inspections greatly decrease the risk of a trucker driving a dangerous vehicle.
Since the steps of a pre-trip inspection are not dictated by law, there is a risk for truckers to rush through these inspections and accidentally missing defects. For instance, drivers may not appropriately inspect their brakes. Testing a truck’s brakes before a trip requires multiple steps. Parts of the braking system within and outside of the truck need to be inspected. Truckers typically back up a certain distance to test their reverse capabilities and brakes, and then also move forward a few feet to again check the braking system. If the trucker does not take the time to review each component of the braking system, they could head out onto the road not knowing they are at risk of their brakes failing.
If you were injured in a trucking accident, contact our experienced semi-truck accident lawyers at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. right away. It is often difficult – if not impossible – to know what caused a truck accident right after it occurs. You need an experienced legal advocate to investigate the situation to find out what happened and who is liable.
Through working with state and federal investigators and hiring third-party experts, our legal team can determine if a defect caused the crash and your injuries. We will also seek the motor carrier’s pre-trip and other inspections and maintenance records to determine if the trucker or company knew or reasonably should have known about the dangerous defect(s) before that trip.
To learn more about your rights after a semi-truck accident and how we can help you, contact us online, or call (205) 933-1500 to schedule a consultation.