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Knowledge of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rules Is Everyone’s Responsibility

April 22, 2010 by Steven M. Gursten

Rule of the Road No. 12: EVERYONE in a trucking company must follow truck safety rules

My fellow truck accident attorneys, this is the last blog in my “Rules of the Road” series. I posted this series because it is my sincere wish that by sharing these dozen rules of what I consider to be some of the most important Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for lawyers handling truck accidents, and showing how they’re integral to handling such a case properly, we can work together with many in the industry to stop so many tragic and preventable truck fatalities and serious injury accidents.

The last rule is brief, but it is incredibly important. Under 49 CFR ? 392.1, every motor carrier, its officers, agents, representatives and employees responsible for the management, maintenance, operation, or driving of commercial motor vehicles; or the hiring, supervising, training, assigning, or dispatching of drivers, shall be instructed in and comply with the rules in this part.

This means EVERYONE – not just the safety director – within the transportation company is charged with the responsibility of instructing in and complying with the federal truck rules.

This rule addresses one of my personal pet peeves. Often, I’m taking a deposition of a truck driver and uncovering one safety violation after another, and the truck driver will say, “That’s not my job; that’s safety’s job,” or “dispatches’ job.” I have presidents of large truck companies tell me, almost brag about, how they have no understanding of federal safety regulations. I have all sorts of people in maintenance who attempt to dismiss responsibility of their knowledge of the rules by saying, “It isn’t my job to follow the rules. That’s safety’s job or so-and-so’s job.”

No, it isn’t. Safety is everyone’s job. Under ? 392.1, it IS his or her job, no matter if this person is the truck driver, safety director, works in maintenance, or dispatch, or is president of the company.

Under ? 392.1, it IS his or her job to know and follow the safety rules that are meant to protect us all.

The Importance of Regulation Knowledge for Truck Litigation Attorneys

To conclude, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are a source of minimum safety standards that every interstate motor carrier must follow. These regulations impose standards of care that many carriers fail to meet. When preparing your truck accident lawsuit, a brief overview in these 12 regulations will give you the decisive advantage in exposing the trucking company’s failure to properly train, supervise, or entrust large commercial trucks to unfit drivers. Without knowledge of these regulations, a lawyer cannot possibly recover top value for his clients after a serious truck accident case.

My hope is that these posts can help provide a meaningful framework for lawyers conducting legal discovery in truck crash cases.

With one in every three trucks on the road in so dangerous a condition that it would be placed immediately out-of-service if inspected (Read here about Michigan’s dangerous trucking companies), I truly believe it’s the lawyers handling truck accident cases who are doing the most to make trucking companies, and everyone who shares the roads with tractor-trailers in America today, safer.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of personal injury attorneys don’t have a lot of experience with truck accident cases. I hope I have helped some of these new or less experienced attorneys with this series of blog posts; and I hope it is in some small way, a step toward making our roads safer for our families – and saving lives.

Steven M. Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Litigation Group, and has received the top reported trial verdict in Michigan for truck accidents. Last year, Steve was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his efforts in promoting truck safety in Michigan and throughout the country.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by emdot

Related information:

Help for Attorneys Handling Truck Accidents

8 Things to Know About Your Truck Accident Case

Finding the Dirt on Unsafe Trucking Companies

Previous blogs from “Rules of the Road Every Truck Accident Lawyer Needs to Know” series:

Rules of the Road: Intro for Truck Lawyers

Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck Lawyers: Get Your Hands on Those Discovery Documents!

Investigate the Trucker’s Background and History

Truck Driver Qualification Files

What Truck Accident Lawyers Must Know About Black Boxes

How to Nab the Tired Trucker

Why is the Pre-trip Inspection the Most Violated Safety Rule?

Why Weather is Never an Excuse

How Trucking Companies Dodge Federal Safety Laws

That Truck Driver Should Never Have Been on the Road

Truck Accident Lawyer Discusses Log Book Forgeries

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation from one of our attorneys.

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