So, you were involved in a motor vehicle crash. Worse yet, you were involved in a crash that involved a commercial motor vehicle!
There are a number of questions that must be answered when such an unfortunate event occurs. Who was at fault for causing the crash? Were there alternative and/or superseding events/issues/objects that caused the crash? Was the commercial driver abiding by his hours-of-service requirement? Was the commercial driver properly qualified pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations? How fast was the commercial driver operating his vehicle leading up to and at the point of impact? Were you injured? If so, are you receiving the necessary medical attention for your injuries? Is valuable evidence from the crash being preserved? These are some, but not all of the reasons why it is important to contact an experienced trucking attorney if you or a loved one is involved in any crash involving a commercial motor vehicle. I work tirelessly to ensure you have answers to all the above question/issues. If appropriate, I can also pursue a claim on your behalf against the wrongdoer to ensure you receive justice.
This blog concentrates on a trucking company’s responsibility to properly qualify its drivers before they are permitted to drive a commercial motor vehicle on behalf of the carrier. This concept seems simple enough. A commercial carrier company is given a roadmap by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations on how to qualify its drivers. Many carriers follow the roadmap, however, some do not, and those drivers should not even be behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle when a crash occurs. This can be easily determined by requesting/reviewing a driver’s qualification file which the commercial motor carrier is required to create and maintain.
Some people think a truck driver simply needs a CDL to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Technically, a CDL only gives an individual the right to operate a truck, not the right to operate a truck under a specific motor carriers federally issued authority.
A commercial carrier has an obligation/duty to properly qualify all drivers who will operate commercial motor vehicles under the company’s federally issued authority. If the company fails in this obligation/duty, a claim may exist against the trucking company for its own negligent, careless and reckless conduct. So, what are these requirements? A good trucking attorney will look to ensure the following obligations/duty were satisfied:
1. A motor carrier must contact any state relevant agencies each year for an updated copy of a driver’s motor vehicle report. When each driver applicant applies for a position, a motor carrier must initially pull that individuals MVR and review same;
2. A driver must not drive a commercial motor vehicle for a motor carrier unless an application for employment is completed and signed by the applicant. There is a specific application required by the FMCSA/FMCSR for all applicants, so it is important to ensure that specific application was completed;
3. A motor carrier must ensure that all applicants undergo a pre-employment drug screen which returns a negative result. Documentation of the testing and results must be maintained by the carrier;
4. A person must not drive a commercial motor vehicle for a carrier until he/she has successfully completed a road test and has been issued a certificate of completion. However, a motor carrier may accept a person’s valid commercial driver’s license in lieu of, but a copy of that license must be maintained in the driver’s qualification file;
5. Motor carriers must investigate the driver’s employment record during the preceding three years. The investigation must be completed within 30 days of the date employment begins. The carrier must retain a record of the request and responses to the request;
6. Motor carriers must retain a copy of a driver’s medical examination report and medical examiner’s certificate. Please note that all commercial drivers are required to pass a physical exam conducted by a licensed medical examiner at least every 24-months;
7. There must be a note/documentation inside the driver qualification file to verify that the medical examiner who performed the required medical examination is listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Please note that only approved medical providers can perform medical examinations to qualify drivers
8. At the time of their application, and at least once every 12-months, driver must submit a list of all convicted violations of motor vehicle traffic laws and ordinances during the previous 12 months. The carrier must review the certification of violations and compare it to the driver’s annual motor vehicle report;
9. At the time of their application, and at least every 12-months, an employer must collect a current motor vehicle record from the State issuing the driver’s commercial driver’s license and review it and determine whether the driver still meets the minimum requirements for safe driving.
If you or your loved one was involved in a crash involving a tractor trailer, please call the experienced trucking attorneys at Bordas & Bordas so we can discuss the circumstances surrounding the crash, perform an investigation and make a determination concerning your legal rights and the best way to pursue justice on your behalf!