When someone is injured in an accident involving one of your trucks, there’s a strong likelihood that you’re going to face litigation. And the arguments that are levied against you by the injured individual may vary depending on the circumstances. Sometimes it’s a straight vicarious liability claim where the injured individual claims that your company is responsible for the trucker’s errors, but in other instances, the injured individual may argue that your lack of maintenance and upkeep contributed to the wreck.
In these latter circumstances, you need to be prepared to show how you abided by applicable laws and regulations on maintenance and upkeep.
The documents that you’ll need to be prepared to present
As you prepare to navigate your case, you’ll want to gather documentation that may be key to your defense. This includes each of the following:
- The informational record of the vehicle involved in the accident, which should include the make, model, and year of the vehicle as well as its VIN, tire size, and the name of the owner, if it’s not fully owned by the truck company
- The service schedule for the vehicle, which should indicate the last time that the truck was serviced and when it was scheduled to undergo routine maintenance again.
- Records demonstrating all inspections and maintenance that resulted from those inspections, remembering that these inspections are supposed to be thorough and in compliance with FMCSA regulations.
- Roadside inspection reports and any documentation that shows what actions your company took based on those reports.
- Daily vehicle inspection reports.
- Annual inspection reports
Remember, too, that you’re required to maintain many of these records for significant periods of time, even after a truck is placed out of service. If you’re unable to produce these records at a time when you were supposed to be able to produce them, your trucking defense strategy can take a hit.
Maintaining and producing your records
One of the best ways to ensure that you’re keeping adequately thorough records and are able to pull them when needed is to digitize your records. This may seem like an onerous process if you haven’t moved in that direction already, but there are programs out there that can assist you in streamlining your recordkeeping process, which can also prove beneficial during trucking litigation.
Testimony regarding proper maintenance
Sometimes after documentation is provided to the plaintiff, arguments are made that your maintenance and upkeep was insufficient. Under these circumstances, you might need an expert witness to testify on your behalf so that a judge and jury has a clear and accurate picture of the appropriateness of your actions.
Therefore, as you prepare for litigation, you might want to consider whether you need one of these experts on your side. If so, your legal team can help you identify one and adequately prep them for trial.
Know how to deal with the various moving pieces in your case
Although a truck accident case may seem straightforward, it can actually be complicated by a number of legal nuances. And mishandling even one aspect of your case can lead to the imposition of liability and a large judgment being levied against you.
You don’t want that, which is why it might be in your best interest to secure legal assistance as you navigate your case. Hopefully, you can protect your business, thereby avoiding liability as much as possible.