Changes in Regulation of Trucking Industry Altering Trucking Litigation
Trucking accidents are the most deadly of all motor vehicle accidents. Though commercial trucks constitute a small minority of the total number of vehicles on the roads, tractor-trailer accidents represent a disproportionate number of the most serious accidents.
The number of fatalities in trucking accidents is almost 63 percent higher per mile driven than for all other motor vehicle-related accidents according to the Federal Carrier Motor Safety Administration (FCMSA). Further, the economic cost associated with the typical commercial trucking accidents is almost $100,000 per accident.
The high human and financial toll of commercial trucking accidents means that injury victims in Georgia trucking accidents frequently suffer catastrophic injury or the wrongful death of a loved one. When a family suffers through devastating injuries or the loss of a loved one it takes an enormous emotional and financial toll. This means that the injury victim and/or the victim’s family typically must divert energy and attention toward issues related to litigation, lost wages, massive medical bills and uncooperative insurance companies. A person or family trying to deal with these issues while overcome by physical pain and emotional struggles can result in the victim or the family being exploited by unscrupulous insurance companies when the victim or the victim’s family is most vulnerable. The experienced tractor-trailer accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been zealously seeking the best possible outcome for tractor-trailer accident victims for over 35 years in Atlanta and throughout Georgia.
While increased regulation and more accurate reporting have made the trucking industry safer, they have also put a premium on tractor-trailer accident victims working with experienced tractor-trailer accident lawyers who understand the unique regulations, safety standards and reporting rules for the trucking industry. In 2010, the FCMSA launched the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program to provide more stringent regulations and safety standards for the commercial trucking industry. These new standards mean that there is additional information available and additional safety requirements that may be relevant in a commercial trucking lawsuit in Georgia. These new standards impact commercial trucking litigation in the following areas:
- Improved reporting of safety violations
- More available information for pre-employment screening
- Wider availability of data from onboard data recorders
A plaintiff in a commercial trucking personal injury or tractor-trailer wrongful death lawsuit now has access to improved data regarding the safety record and violations of a trucking company. The new system of reporting safety violations and issues provides information related to crashes reported to the state, and roadside inspections including safety violations and the federal motor carrier census data. The experienced Georgia tractor-trailer accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates file Freedom of Information Act requests for this important data when investigating a client’s collision with a tractor-trailer.
The current system of evaluating the safety records of commercial trucking companies is called the Safety Measurement System (SMS) and evaluates trucking company safety records in seven critical categories including:
- Vehicle maintenance
- Unsafe drivers
- Drug or alcohol use by drivers
- Number of reportable crashes
- Driver fatigue
- Issues with hazardous material or other cargo problems
- Fitness issues with drivers (i.e. health or illness)
The commercial carrier is issued a rating based on its record in these seven critical areas over the prior 2 year (24 month) period. The rating received by a trucking company is based both on its safety violations and history of accidents based on the above factors. Each trucking company is given one of three classifications “continue to operate”, “marginal” or “unfit.”
There have been other changes during the last 12 month period that impacts tractor-trailer litigation. Another key change to trucking industry regulations during the last year was a new pre-employment screening program (PSP). The program permits trucking companies to obtain information on potential employees including three years of inspection and five years of crash data. The driver has a right to request this information about their own driving record so our tractor-trailer accident attorneys will typically request such data in the trucking company or driver’s possession during the discovery process. There have also been important changes regarding the availability of onboard data recorder information because any carrier with 10 percent or higher hours of service violation in their logbooks must equip their trucks with these data recorders.
The gist is that there have been major changes that can provide critical evidence to those involved in a lawsuit against a commercial trucking company in Georgia. Our Atlanta tractor-trailer accident law firm handles trucking accident cases throughout Georgia. We carefully monitor changes in the law, regulations and industry practices so that we can provide our clients with the best possible legal representation in tractor-trailer litigation. It is important to consult with us as soon as possible after an accident so that valuable evidence can be preserved.
Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.