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Evidence & Investigation
Spoliation of Evidence
Investigative Technique – Maintenance Records
Investigative Technique – Driver’s Logs
Investigative Technique – Trucker’s Medical Background
Investigative Technique – Employer Drug Screening
Investigative Technique – DOT Physical Results
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Checking the Truck Driver’s Medical Background

Houston Personal Injury Lawyers » Checking the Truck Driver’s Medical Background

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Obtaining the Defendant Truck Driver’s Prior Medical Records May Help Bolster Your Claim

Houston Texas 18 wheeler accident lawyer
One investigative technique that too few attorneys employ is that of conducting research into the truck driver’s background. Such probative research is required in most truck accident cases as a way of countering some of the available defenses.

For example, if a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel and kills a person, the defense attorneys who represent the trucking company will attempt to mitigate their losses by claiming that the truck driver was required to follow regulations in regard to hours of service, and that such a violation, or any other contributing factor that caused him to fall asleep, was beyond the control of the company.

Such a defense can be very effective if your attorney does not know how to counter it. In many of the cases that our attorneys have litigated at Grossman Law Offices, these defenses were overcome by showing that the truck driver did not simply “fall asleep,” but other health issues arose instead which caused him to lose consciousness. By showing that the truck driver had a history of health problems that the parent company was, indeed, aware of, you will be able to cast doubt on the defendant’s assertions that they had no way of predicting such an outcome.

There are myriad ways in which a truck driver can cause an accident; most of the time they make traffic-related mistakes, but other times the cause is health-related. If you sustained an injury in an accident caused by a truck driver who had a health issue, and that issue led directly to the accident taking place, you need to know so that you can have the strongest possible case in order to have the best chance of winning.

Health Issues that Can Affect Truck Drivers

Truck drivers are susceptible to the same kinds of maladies as anyone else. They are under a great deal of stress, so high blood pressure is common. Obesity from a lack of movement is another issue; according to a 2007 study conducted by the Journal of the American Diabetic Association, 86 percent of the nation’s 3.2 million truck drivers were classified as overweight or obese. Since truck drivers are rarely in the same place for more than a day or two, hitting the gym is typically not an option. Usually, the most exercise a truck driver will get in any given day is pushing his or her gas pedal.

Another problem, obviously, is the stress these professionals encounter because they are trying to meet extremely taxing deadlines set by their employers. Truck drivers do not exactly have a varied range of eating options while they are on the road; since they are under such pressing time constraints, they often have to rely on fast food. When you combine the stress associated with their job with their often unhealthy eating practices, and then you add the fact that smoking is prevalent among truck drivers, you can see how heart issues can be a major problem affecting members of the profession.

Sleep apnea is another problem that is common among truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that about one in four truckers has the condition, which can lead to daytime sleepiness and lack of concentration. Many truck drivers spend incredible numbers of hours behind the wheel of their vehicles, ignoring federal mandates that require them to take rest breaks on a periodic basis. They press on and remain on the road because they are either trying to meet an often realistic employer-imposed deadline, or trying to make a potentially lucrative mileage bonus.

These issues can strike suddenly in the form of a heart attack or a sudden loss of consciousness that can result in a catastrophic accident.

Why Obtaining Information on the Truck Driver’s Health Issues is so Important

Determining the health issue that may have affected the truck driver involved in your accident is not what is really germane to your case; proving that the trucking company was aware of that problem is highly important. If the driver who caused your accident had a heart attack behind the wheel and had a history of heart issues, that is a very strong indicator the trucking company knew of those issues. And if you can prove the trucking company’s knowledge of the problem, that can substantially increase the strength of your case.

If you are pursuing a personal injury lawsuit in order to obtain compensation for the injury you have sustained in your trucking accident, you will first have to show the court unassailable evidence that the truck driver was to blame. But you will not just be pursuing compensation from that driver; you will also pursue restitution from the company that hired the driver. And in order to build a solid case against the company, you will have to show its negligence.

If you can prove the trucking company was aware of the truck driver’s health problems and did nothing to take that driver off of the road to treat those problems, then you can prove that company’s negligence. However, you will need the help of a skilled attorney in order to do so.

At Grossman Law Offices, our lawyers have litigated truck accident cases for the past two decades. During that time we have helped thousands of our clients secure equitable restitution for their suffering. In nearly every truck accident case that we accept, we immediately launch an investigation. In addition to investigatory tasks at the crash site, such as taking physical measurements, conducting forensic tests and interviewing witnesses, we can also take a detailed look into any of the truck driver’s health problems that may have either been an underlying cause of the accident or its direct cause. We can obtain the medical records needed in order to prove the truck driver’s health issues led directly to the accident and the resulting injury you sustained.

The Responsibilities of a Trucking Company

Just as a trucking company has a responsibility to other drivers sharing the road with their rigs to make sure those rigs are in proper working order, they also have the responsibility to not allow drivers with health risks to remain behind the wheel. A driver who is at risk of suffering a health problem that could directly lead to an accident is just as dangerous as defective brakes or worn tires. When a trucking company fails to perform its due diligence to ensure that its drivers are not a danger to themselves and the motorists around them, that company can be targeted with legal action for its negligence.

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Again, however, you will need hard evidence to prove that negligence, and it takes an experienced attorney to be able to uncover that evidence. At Grossman Law Offices, our attorneys have two decades of experience litigating truck accident cases. We have the knowledge and skill you will need in order to prove the negligence of a trucking company and obtain fair compensation. To learn more or to receive a confidential and free consultation, please call Grossman Law Offices at 1-855-392-0000 (toll free).

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Pre-Employment Drug Screening for Truckers

Houston Personal Injury Lawyers » Pre-Employment Drug Screening for Truckers

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Negligent Entrustment of a Trucking Company and The Failure to Properly Screen Truck Drivers

There are almost three million tractor trailers that travel the nation’s highways in a given year and with so many on the road, accidents with other motorists are a common occurrence. Nearly 113,000 tractor trailer accidents occurred in 2010 and almost 3500 of those resulted in fatalities. Many of these accidents would be prevented if the trucking companies follow the federal requirements regarding pre-employment background and drug screening.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that trucking companies perform pre-employment background checks for every driver they hire. Trucking companies must investigate a potential driver’s employment history and driving record, conduct screenings for drugs and alcohol, and check for any drug or alcohol related violations in the truck driver’s background. The failure to perform pre-employment background checks leads to accidents and injuries that might otherwise be preventable.

If you have been injured in a tractor trailer accident it may be difficult for you to obtain the trucking company’s records to determine whether they followed the federal law requiring pre-employment background checks on their driver. Trucking companies have been known to hide or destroy these records to prevent injured plaintiffs from demonstrating the trucking company’s failure to comply with the federal requirements. Our attorneys at the Grossman Law Offices know how to investigate the trucking company and its drivers. We know what reports need to be produced to verify whether the required pre-employment screening was conducted by the trucking company and if its negligence in failing to do so was a factor in your injuries.

An Ounce of Prevention

As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Though an old and oft used term, this statement is still nonetheless true. In this case the “ounce of prevention” is the trucking company’s duty to perform pre-employment background and drug screening, and the “pound of cure” is compensating a motorist that has been injured as the result of an accident with a tractor trailer driver who had no business on the roads. The best prevention is taking the necessary steps to reduce the occurrence of an accident in the first place.

In an effort to reduce the number of accidents involving motorists and tractor trailers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has enacted an extensive driver screening program for the trucking industry to follow in order to keep unsafe tractor trailer drivers off the road. However, the program can only be effective if those responsible for hiring tractor trailer drivers – the trucking companies—actually use it. The FMCSA driver pre-employment screening program focuses on two key areas. First the trucking company must obtain an employment and driving history for the driver for the previous three years. Second, the trucking company must obtain the driver’s drug and alcohol violation history for the previous three years as well as conduct its own drug screening on the driver. Each of the steps outlined in the FMCSA’s pre-employment screening program is important in keeping dangerous and unqualified drivers off the road and minimizing the number of preventable accidents that occur each year.

Pre-Employment Driving History

As part of the FMCSA’s pre-employment driver screening program trucking companies are required to obtain a driver’s employment and driving history for the previous three years. This is an important factor in preventing accidents because many times a driver’s employment or driving history reveals their record for drug use, carelessness or reckless driving.

When a driver applies for employment with a trucking company, part of the due diligence the trucking company must perform involves obtaining the driver’s license and driving history. The trucking company should review any driving violations, accidents, and tickets received by the truck driver in this time period. The FMCSA has made it easier than ever for trucking companies to obtain this information. The agency is making data available on driver safety and post-crash violations, in addition to the roadside inspection and crash records that employers already can see using this system. The Internet-based pre-employment screening program gives the trucking companies five years of an applicant’s crash history and three years of his inspection history. The data is drawn from the Motor Carrier Management Information System and includes the same information that is used by agency staff and state police for enforcement. There is simply no excuse for a trucking company’s failure to conduct this basic check and if you are injured by their negligence in doing so, the lawyers at the Grossman Law Offices are here to help.

Pre-Employment Substance Abuse History
n addition to a trailer truck driver’s driving history, the trucking companies have a legal duty to obtain reports from the driver’s previous employers regarding any drug or alcohol violations. Trucking companies must request information related to substance abuse history from prior employers. Specifically, a prospective employer must verify whether an applicant has failed a drug or alcohol test from all employers for the three years prior to the date of hire. The trucking company must request the results of alcohol tests with a result of 0.04 or higher alcohol concentration, verified positive drug tests, and refusals by the truck driver to be tested, and other violations of DOT agency drug and alcohol testing regulations. Additionally the trucking company should not have the driver on the road until this information has been received and verified.

If a tractor trailer driver has a history of drug and alcohol abuse or DOT violations, these factors serve as a warning to potential employers about the risk a driver like this brings to the highway. Logically, once made aware of this risk the trucking company can reduce the risk of an accident involving this driver by simply not hiring them. Obtaining the driver’s employment and driving history prior to employment is not only good business sense for the trucking company, it is also required by law.

If you have been injured in a tractor trailer accident one of the first things that needs to be secured for your case are the results of the pre-employment driving history and employment check conducted by the trucking company. Trucking companies are not always forth coming with these documents because by not complying with the federal requirements their negligence can be a major factor that works in your favor. The trucking company will throw many hurdles in your way to prevent you from obtaining these documents, or even flat out refuse to provide them to you. Our lawyers at the Grossman Law Offices have extensive experience dealing with trucking companies and we know how to obtain these records and we know how to argue that the records demonstrate negligence on the part of the trucking company.

Pre-Employment Drug and Alcohol Screening

Under federal law, trucking companies must have the driver complete a pre-employment screen for alcohol and drugs before a driver is allowed to operate a tractor trailer on the highways. The drug screen must be negative and the alcohol test must come back at a consummation level less than .04%. If the driver does not pass the drug and alcohol screens, the trucking company should not allow the driver to perform truck driving duties. In addition to performing the drug and alcohol screenings mentioned above, the trucking companies must also provide their truck drivers with educational materials explaining its policies and procedures about alcohol and controlled substances. While some policies are pretty obvious such as no alcohol or drugs may be used while on duty, some may not be as obvious and should be carefully outlined in the trucking company’s policies and procedures. For example, drivers need to understand which substances prescribed by a doctor are allowed for use on duty and which are not.

If you have been injured in an accident with a tractor trailer and the driver was found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs it is extremely important that any pre-employment drug and alcohol screen results are obtained. Not only will this demonstrate whether the trucking company complied with federal law by conducting the tests in the first place, but the results can also demonstrate the trucking company’s knowledge of potential drug or alcohol abuse by its employee. Additionally the trucking company’s policies concerning drug and alcohol use should be obtained as well. Having these documents will allow your attorney to lay the foundation of your claim surrounding the trucking company’s negligence in complying with the federal trucking laws.

The Pre-Employment Policies Protect The Public

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation put laws in place to govern the commercial trucking industry for the safety of the public. These laws and regulations work to prevent accidents and keep us safe from reckless and negligent tractor trailer drivers and the trucking companies that employ them. Trucking companies have a legal duty to conduct the pre-employment screenings required by the FMCSA and their failures to do so often results in needless preventable accidents and injuries to motorists.

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Even when they have clearly violated the federal laws that govern their industry trucking companies will still aggressively defend any claims against them when one of their drivers injures a motorist. They have teams of attorneys looking for any way to minimize their liability and deny you access to the records that help to prove their negligence in failing to conduct the required pre-employment tests on their drivers. You need attorneys on your side that know how to compel the trucking companies and their lawyers to produce this information to help with your claim. Getting these documents as soon as possible after your injury increases the likelihood of their availability for trial. If you have been injured, please call Grossman Law Offices today at 1-855-392-0000.
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