Rule of the Road No. 4 – Know that Complete Driver Qualification File is a MUST After a Truck Accident
A motor carrier is required to keep seven documents in each of its drivers’ qualification files. But it’s almost inevitable that a negligent truck company will fail to produce a complete file after a serious truck accident in Michigan.
In this event, a truck accident attorney‘s trial preparation must highlight the carrier’s failure to comply with 49 CFR ? 391.51. This critical Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulation states that a motor carrier is required to maintain a complete driver qualification file for each driver it employs.
The truck driver qualification file must include:
1. The trucker’s application for employment;
2. A copy of the motor vehicle record received from each state where the driver held or holds a motor vehicle operator’s license during the preceding three years;
3. The certificate of driver’s road test issued to the driver or a copy of the license or certificate which the motor carrier accepted as equivalent to the driver’s road test;
4. The motor vehicle record received from each state drivers licensing agency to the annual driver record inquiry;
5. A note relating the annual review of the driver’s driving record;
6. A list or certificate relating to violations of motor vehicle laws and ordinances; and
7. The medical examiner’s certificate.
Once again, the qualification file must be retained by the truck company for as long as the driver is employed by that motor carrier and for three years thereafter.
Keep in mind, this regulation does not suggest a carrier SHOULD maintain SOME of these documents, but that ALL of these documents MUST be included in the driver qualification file.
More often than not, these documents are either outdated (especially the medical examiner’s certificate), or completely missing from the file. In your discovery requests, be sure to include all of the itemized documents that a carrier is required to preserve within 49 CFR ? 391.51. Read here for more tips on legal discovery of the trucker and the truck. Here’s an extensive list of discovery documents.
On Thursday, my series on “Rules of the Road” for truck accident attorneys will continue with laws regarding automatic, on-board hours of service devices.
– Steven M. Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top attorneys handling serious truck accident injury cases. He is on the board of governors for the Association of Plaintiffs Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America and past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Litigation Group. Recently, he was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his efforts to promote truck safety.
– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by redjar
Previous blogs from “Rules of the Road Every Truck Accident Lawyer Needs to Know” series:
Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Southfield, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation from one of our attorneys.