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What obligation do truck companies have to keep vehicles safe?

Most Baltimore residents who own a vehicle have experienced the unfortunate situation of having something go wrong with the vehicle. Whether it is a flat tire, a transmission problem or one of the many other things that can quit working in a vehicle, problems arise from time to time that need to be addressed.

Typically, when there are defective auto parts, it is something that only impacts the owner of the vehicle involved. This is not always the case when it comes to tractor trailers, however, which are held to a different standard under the federal trucking regulations. If a truck accident occurs because of faulty parts in the truck, the truck driver and trucking company could be at fault for the incident.

Under the federal trucking regulations, motor carriers have the obligation to regularly inspect, repair and maintain the vehicles they control. Accordingly, a failure to cause this inspection could be viewed as a violation of the regulations.

Along the same lines, Motor vehicle carriers must keep their parts and accessories in safe and proper operating condition at all times. This includes a number of parts to the vehicle that affect its safe operation, including the frame, suspension, wheels and rims and steering systems.

In addition to keeping the vehicle in a safe condition, motor vehicle carriers also must maintain certain records for a period of time. This includes records about the identification of the vehicle, records of the inspection and maintenance operations and records of inspections and repairs made on the vehicle.

If a person is injured because of a truck that was not in safe operating condition, the above regulations may come into play in one way or another in a personal injury lawsuit. The violation of the regulations could potentially show that the truck driver failed to follow the rules, for instance, and that failure caused the crash in question.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Part 396: inspection, repair, and maintenance," accessed on March 27, 2015

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