If you or a loved one has been injured by a commercial vehicle in Georgia, one of the first things you and your attorney will want to know as much information as possible about the at-fault driver and the trucking company for which the driver worked. Thankfully, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) has compiled these records online and devised a safety rating for most commercial vehicles that is easily searchable on its website.
Enter the name of trucking company’s name on the page known as the Safety Measurement System, and you receive instant information about that trucking company’s safety rating, crashes and violation records. For instance, a random search for “WilsonTrucking Corp.” shows that the corporation is based in Fishersville, Virginia, has a “Satisfactory” safety rating, and its fleet includes 790 vehicles and 825drivers.
Additional information on the site shows that the corporation has had 553 total inspections, of which 351 revealed no violations. There have been 58 crashes reported that involved the corporation’s vehicles in the past 24 months. An additional search into unsafe driving information for the corporation shows that the company has had no serious violations in its history, and is in the top 10 percentile for safety performance. An even deeper breakdown shows how many times the corporation has been cited for specific violations, such as using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a commercial motor vehicle. That particular violation has been cited 15 times. There have been no controlled substance or alcohol violations involving WilsonTrucking Corp. drivers in the past 24 months.
Within seconds this government website offers a snapshot of the company involved in the crash. While Wilson Trucking Corp appears to have an exemplary record, other trucking companies do not, which is immediately apparent by their ranking. The site indicates where a company has so many violations that penalties and interventions have been ordered by the FMCSA. This snapshot is an important indicator that the trucking company involved in a crash may have issues that will be extremely relevant in any litigation involving a crash.
Whenever a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident,the company may be exposed to potential liability. There are several theories of liability including negligent hiring and retention of drivers, negligent maintenance of vehicles, and negligent supervision of drivers and employees.The FMCSA and the states have numerous regulations that apply to most commercial vehicles. If a company involved in the accident did not subject its drivers and employees to those standards, it is possible to show that the company, as well as the at-fault driver, was negligent in the accident. If a company has a history of not meeting these standards, those facts may also open the door to possible punitive damages at trial.
For instance, lets say a crash involves a commercial vehicle driver who fell asleep at the wheel and caused an accident. Its obvious thedriver was negligent in falling asleep. It may also be shown that the driver violated state or federal laws that restrict the maximum amount of time that adriver may be behind the wheel for a continuous period of time. If open records and information gathered during the course of litigation shows the company hada long history of its drivers violating this regulation, there is an additional argument that the company itself was negligent in training its drivers and enforcing this regulation.
Therefore a thorough knowledge of the company’s safety record is vital in any personal injury case involving a trucking company or commercial vehicle. The FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System website offers a convenient snapshot of each company’s safety history. More detailed information will be gained by attorneys through specific open records requests and discovery gathered during the litigation.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle, you may be entitled to monetary damages. The attorneys at Jarrett & Price will thoroughly investigate your case to determine whether the other party is negligent, and where and how violations to federal and state regulations may have occurred. Contact us for a free consultation at one of our Georgia offices in Savannah, Clarkesville or Cleveland. There are no up-front costs,and our firm is only paid if your claim is successful.