All automobiles need to be maintained and frequently inspected to keep them running and ensure that they are safe to operate. This is particularly true for semitrailers and other commercial vehicles. When improperly maintained, trucking accidents can happen. When they do, the victims or -- in the event of fatality -- their surviving family members may be entitled to seek compensation for their losses in a Maryland civil court, as failing to maintain these vehicles is considered a form of negligence.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has stringent guidelines that commercial driver's license holders and their employers have to abide by. Some of these guidelines talk specifically about inspection and maintenance schedules, along with acceptable repair windows. According to the FMCSA:
- Certain vehicle parts are to be inspected every 90 days
- Other vehicle parts only require annual checkups
- Drivers need to conduct daily checks to ensure their vehicles are in good repair
- Any issues noted must be fixed before the vehicle can return to service
All motor carriers must keep inspection and repair records for a minimum of 12 months after they occur. Truck drivers only have to keep their records for at least three months. Keeping detailed information about inspections and repairs only serves to protect truck drivers and their employers should an accident occur.
When trucking accidents happen, whether in Maryland or elsewhere, investigators and legal counsel will generally ask to see maintenance and repair records as soon as possible in order to determine if failure to maintain the vehicles properly was a contributing factor. If a driver or his or her employer cannot produce detailed maintenance logs, the failure to do so may actually prove beneficial to victims or their loved ones when taking steps to seek compensation for their losses. If it is possible to establish that maintenance and/or repair issues contributed to a wreck, maximum relief for all documented losses may be achieved through negotiation or, if necessary, litigation.