Kudos to my friend Ken Shigley, an excellent Atlanta trial lawyer, for assembling a list for lawyers to consider when litigating truck accident cases. Ken’s list is based upon the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new proposed rule on safety audits. The FMCSA has identified 11 regulatory violations reflecting “a clear lack of basic safety management controls.” And under the proposed rule, an automatic failure of a truck safety audit would result.
I suggest Michigan lawyers use these 11 deadly sins as a discovery and deposition checklist.
Today, there are more than 1,000 trucking companies in Michigan with conditional or unsatisfactory safety ratings, according to the FMCSA. A conditional rating means that the truck company’s records indicate the truck was out of compliance with one or more safety requirements. An unsatisfactory rating means that the truck company’s records indicated evidence of substantial noncompliance with safety requirements. In other words, approximately one in three trucks on Michigan roads currently have defective brakes, bald tires, loads that dangerously exceed federal and state weight limitations, as well as unfit and unsafe drivers who are alcohol or drug dependent or have had little or no safety training.
Unfortunately, as a lawyer handling serious truck crashes throughout Michigan, I see this problem increasing as growing financial pressures cause trucking companies to take many more shortcuts. This worsens the problem, because trucking companies that skimp on maintenance and driver safety can then undercut other trucking companies on price. Sadly, these companies are rewarded for putting profits over safety.
The 11 deadly sins for trucking companies that every truck accident lawyer must know are:
1. Sec. 382.115(a)/Sec. 382.115(b) — Failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program for truck drivers (domestic and foreign motor carriers respectively).
2. Sec. 382.21– Using a driver who has refused to submit to a required alcohol or controlled substances test.
3. Sec. 382.215 — Using a driver known to have tested positive for a controlled substance.
4. Sec. 383.37(a) — Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing an employee with a commercial driver’s license which is suspended, revoked or canceled by a state or who is disqualified, to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
5. Sec. 383.51(a) — Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing a driver to drive who is disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
6. Sec. 387.7(a) — Operating a motor vehicle without having the required minimum levels of financial responsibility coverage in effect.
7. Sec. 391.15(a) — Using a disqualified truck driver.
8. Sec. 391.11(b)(4) — Using a physically unqualified truck driver.
9. Sec. 395.8(a) — Failing to require a driver to make a record of duty status.
10. Sec. 396.9(c)(2) — Requiring or permitting the operation of a commercial motor vehicle declared “out-of-service” before repairs are made.
11. Sec. 396.17(a) — Using a commercial motor vehicle not periodically inspected.
Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Southfield, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights.