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Truck driver qualification files: does the injury lawyer know if something is missing after a truck accident?

October 7, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Video on tip 5 for truck accident attorneys

Here’s the fifth truck attorney tip from my series of 13 videos on handling truck accident lawsuits. This video is from a past American Association for Justice truck accident attorney seminar, and it emphasizes the truck company’s responsibility to keep a complete truck driver qualification file.

The takeaway: If a trucking company has not included all of the mandatory documents in the truck driver qualification file, then the trucking company has broken the law.

This is not nit-picking by a truck lawyer obsessed with legal discovery. These are critical things that are mandated to protect the innocent public and prevent unfit or unsafe drivers from being put behind the wheel. Too often, the trucking company safety directors clean out files and remove damning items, like a medical certificate (I once had a truck driver who had seizures and was on epilepsy medication when he caused an accident) to try and prevent the trucking company from being sued for gross negligence.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Rules, a truck driver qualification file must include seven things:

1. The truck driver’s application for employment;

2. A copy of the motor vehicle record from each state the trucker 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 trucker, or a copy of the license or certificate which the trucking company accepted as equivalent to the driver’s road test;

4. The motor vehicle record 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.

These documents must be maintained for as long as the truck driver is employed — plus three years.

As I said in the video, there’s always something missing — or outdated — in the truck driver qualification file, especially medical examiners certificates.

As truck attorneys, it is our responsibility to highlight that a motor carrier put a truck on the roads without doing a thorough investigation to make sure the driver was completely safe and fit to drive.

Steven Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law and one of the top truck attorneys in the country. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Group, and has received the top-reported jury verdict in Michigan for truck crashes. Steve was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his work to promote national truck safety.

Related information to protect yourself:

Truck accident attorneys can highlight the motor carrier’s failure to keep the driver qualification file

Find a lawyer for your truck accident case

8 things to know after a truck accident

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 (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan truck attorneys.

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