In most instances, yes, you can sue the truck company for an accident caused by a poorly trained driver. This is because under Washington State and federal law, carriers have a legal duty to only put capable, safe drivers on the road.
Ensuring their drivers are properly trained to operate a commercial truck and fit for the rigors of driving is part of a trucking company’s responsibilities. When its drivers’ training is subpar, victims can hold the company accountable for any resulting harm they sustain.
What training must truck drivers have?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets forth the rules and requirements for the trucking industry. This includes certain criteria that carriers must ensure their drivers meet.
Some of the training requirements truck companies must ensure its drivers have to lawfully operate a semi-truck on the road include:
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL): The company must ensure the driver has obtained his CDL from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards to demonstrate proficiency in field knowledge and behind-the-wheel training on a driving range and on a public road. If the driver plans to haul multiple trailers, tanks, passengers, or hazardous materials, he must have the appropriate endorsements with his CDL and meet the appropriate safety requirements.
- Background check: Carriers must perform a background check on their drivers during the application process to obtain information such as details about previous employment and the applicant’s driving record in every state he has been licensed in.
- Technical skills: Carriers must make sure their drivers demonstrate the technical skills necessary to safely operate a commercial truck, e.g., maneuvering and braking techniques, proper securement, knowledge of FMCSA hours of service limits, how to spot mechanical issues, and how and when to perform safety checks.
- Medical clearance: Carriers must also ensure their drivers meet minimum health standards. Drivers must undergo a physical exam, pass a hearing and vision test, and be free from health and mental conditions that could interfere with driving such as epilepsy or alcoholism.
How can inadequate training contribute to truck accidents?
Truck drivers must have sufficient knowledge, skills, and practice to safely operate a large truck weighing up to 80,000 pounds. When they do not meet basic training standards, drivers may make errors that can wind up causing devastating accidents, such as:
- Improperly securing their loads
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Taking a corner or descent too fast
- Failing to perform a thorough enough safety check on their truck
How do I prove a poorly trained truck driver caused the accident?
Proving a poorly trained truck driver caused your accident will take considerable investigation. Our truck accident attorney at Max Meyers Law, PLLC can help.
We can take the necessary legal steps to obtain a copy of the truck driver’s employee file, driving record, and criminal record. We will scour the records for deficiencies in training, poor performance, or conduct reports, and any other information that could indicate inadequacy. We can also collect other evidence that may be useful to prove negligence such as the driver’s log book and truck maintenance records.
Unfortunately, even though the FMCSA requires carriers to keep information on file about their drivers and fleet for a certain period of time, carriers tend to “lose” or “accidentally destroy” records when they are facing a liability lawsuit. Acting swiftly can prevent the destruction of evidence you need to prove your truck accident claim.
Our team at Max Meyers Law, PLLC can send what is called a spoliation letter to the carrier that reminds it of its legal duty to preserve certain documents and of the penalties for altering or falsifying records, and requests it provide us with the files we need for your case. Time is of the essence when it comes to the preservation of evidence.
Contact a truck accident lawyer in Kirkland at Max Meyers Law, PLLC to discuss your case for free today: 425-242-5595.