While many times truck drivers are at fault when they get into accidents with other vehicles on the road, trucking companies can be at fault as well. As a semi-truck accident attorney, I keep my skills sharp and stay alert to new laws and regulations by attending the same trucking seminars as truck drivers. And one of the main ways trucking companies can be at fault centers on licensing.
Many people learn to drive semis by attending a trucking school. Like a regular driving school, though, completion of the course doesn’t guarantee the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) required federally to operate a semi-truck. Licensing itself, however, if handled by each state. To obtain a CDL, a driver must be at least 18 years old, possess a valid regular driver’s license and a valid Commercial Driver’s Permit (CDP), pass a knowledge test and a skills road test, and pass a vision check. CDL holders under the age of 21 are restricted to interstates within Georgia until they come of age, and a license is valid for 8 years in most cases.
There are 3 classes of licenses, and a driver is only licensed to drive one class of vehicle. They may also have endorsements on their licenses for specialized loads like hazardous materials or to pull double or triple trailers. They may also have restrictions on their licenses if they didn’t pass a certain portion of their exams or if they’ve only proven competency with one type of braking or hook up system. To drive any truck or trailer outside of their licensing is illegal and dangerous.
In many of the cases I’ve handled over the years, the drivers were at fault for driving a truck they weren’t licensed for or driving outside of their age-related restrictions. However, the trucking company that hired them was also at fault because they put an improperly licensed and unsafe driver on the road with their trailers, equipment, and products. Even if a driver lied to the company about their license or abilities, the company is still at fault for not checking the license themselves and making sure it is valid.
Companies can also be at fault for not properly maintaining their equipment, such as their trailers. A driver can hook everything up perfectly, be driving responsibly and under the speed limit, but if a trailer’s axel cracks, a break line leaks, or a tire blows because it was retreaded too many times, there’s nothing the driver could have done. These are the responsibilities of the company who owns the trailer. An unbalanced or improperly secured load can also lead to an accident, and while drivers should check their loads, the company that loaded the trailer could be at fault as well.
To help prevent accidents due to fatigues driving, federal law imposes time limits on how long a trucker can be driving during a single day as well as in an 8-day period. However, some companies encourage their drivers to drive beyond federal limits and falsify their log books [link to the other blog for this month] to hide it. Using my knowledge from trucking seminars, I’ve been able to catch logging inconsistences. At times, I’ve proven a truck couldn’t have traveled as far as the logs claim in the time available, meaning the driver was either speeding or exceeding their legal work hours. At other times, drivers have admitted to caving to the pressures put on them by the trucking companies.
It can be disheartening to think about how dangerous and complex semi-truck accidents can be, which is why regulations and laws are so strict and detailed. When something goes wrong and your family is affected, you need an experienced attorney who goes the extra mile to understand every possible aspect of your case. That’s what I bring to every one of my clients, and that’s what I’ll bring to you. Contact me today to set up your free consultation.