In recognizing the enormous potential for damages and injuries resulting from tractor-trailer crashes, it becomes imperative that trucking companies not only ensure their drivers are roadworthy, but that the vehicles they operate are safe as well.
There are a wide variety of firms that own and/or operate large trucks, but they are all governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
With regard to FMCSA Rule 396.3, every motor carrier and intermodal equipment provider is required to systematically inspect, repair and maintain all vehicles subject to its control. All accessories and parts have to be in safe and proper operating condition, including but not limited to:
- Frame and frame assemblies;
- Suspension systems;
- Axles and attaching parts;
- Rims and wheels;
- Steering systems.
Unfortunately, as our Charlotte truck accident injury lawyers have witnessed, such care is not always taken by those in the trucking industry. Even those companies that technically require routine or even daily maintenance checks may not make repairs a priority. There have even been some instances in which reported safety concerns have resulted in sanctions for employees.
A recent example of this was seen in the case of Gaines v. K-Five Constr. Corp., which was recently granted review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Here, a construction company truck driver was fired after voicing numerous concerns about the working condition of two trucks owned by the firm. The company denies the worker’s termination had to do with his reported safety violations, but the appellate court has ruled there is enough evidence in the worker’s favor to allow the case to go to trial.
Although the driver had been employed by the company for five years, he was abruptly fired after making a series of safety-related complaints regarding two of the company’s trucks. Among his complaints:
- The tail pain of a truck was covered in asphalt. Although a supervisor responded by physically scraping off the debris himself, chunks still remained and this did not alleviate the driver’s concern that some of it could fly off while he was driving, presenting a serious hazard to others on the road.
- The pins that locked the rear gate of the truck weren’t appropriately latching due to the mess, causing the driver to fear the gate could fly open during transit.
- Another truck, which had previously been in a rollover crash but had been repaired, jerked heavily to one side, nearly causing him to wreck.
- That same truck, he would later report, had a bad seat, a door that did not properly close, a steering problem and a faulty tarp.
His complaints were made both verbally to supervisors and company mechanics, as well as in written in his daily logs. He would later say that his supervisors responded to these concerns with a general annoyance. A week later, he received notice that he was no longer welcome to work for the company.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this case, it’s an important reminder that trucking companies need to take such concerns seriously.
If you have been injured in a Charlotte truck accident, contact the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
Gaines v. K-Five Constr. Corp., Jan. 3, 2014, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
More Blog Entries:
Filing a Complaint with the DOT: Unsafe Truckers, Aug. 30, 2013, Charlotte Truck Accident Lawyer Blog