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Commercial Truck Expert Witness:
Protecting the Company by Disseminating Knowledge

 
by Don Asa
 

Evidence Solutions, Inc. - Truck Accident & Safety Expert Articles

 

No matter how big or small the trucking company is, if operating commercial vehicles with one truck or many trucks, chances great that there will be an accident and therefore a law suit.  One of the things to understand among many things is that 95% percent of all accidents are developed from lack of knowledge.  The lack of knowledge not only includes the driver, but the company as well.  The company’s safety department could be one in a big company with many people, or it could be a small company with 2 or 3 trucks, but the thing to remember is that when an accident happens people line up to work toward developing a case which when presented to a jury will give the jury information that is beneficial to their side –plaintiff or defense.  About 85% of the time the plaintiffs win in front of a jury.

The cases work around the word “knowledge”.  The safety department has poor knowledge as to all kinds of aspects of operation, including understanding what their drivers know, what they’ve given the drivers to develop their knowledge, how they supervise, monitor, and audit their drivers.  All of these issues come under intense scrutiny.  That scrutiny uncovers what knowledge does exist or doesn’t exist in the driver’s seat.

From a company point of view, first of all the safety department needs to understand that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are always an issue in a truck case.  The level of knowledge as to those regulations, including what the driver knows about them, will come under a magnifying glass and as a matter of fact the issues will be telescopically examined.  The safety department is going to be on the stand, along with the drivers.  The case may only go as far as depositions, but it will still be testimony as to knowledge of the Regulations.  The simplest of all for the safety department to understand is that it’s their responsibility to disseminate knowledge and then to make sure that the drivers have the knowledge and make sure that they can prove all of this.  They must monitor the level of knowledge.

Even understanding simple regulations such as FMCSR, Part 383, Section 383.111 –the driver has to have that level of knowledge as is described in this Section.  Even as simple as questioning the driver as to that level of knowledge can help the safety department.  The regulation FMCSR, Part 392, Section 392.2 –a discussion of that regulation should take place.  It simply says to obey the law.  Juries understand this statement.  If you want to avoid accidents you will obey the law and understand and adhere to regulatory requirements. 

One of the regulatory requirements is that the driver has to have the level of knowledge as outlined in FMCSR, Part 383, Section 383.111.  A big step toward protecting the company by making sure that the safety department (big or small) has the understanding of what the regulatory requirements are, what the regulations say.  Realize that when involved in a law suit, the company and the driver are going to be questioned about the regulations.

 

 

Strangely enough, the driver can’t say what a regulation says because no one has done anything except hand the driver a book.  Without direct questioning the material alone doesn’t guarantee that the driver has absorbed the information.  The company is required to insure the drivers understand the regulations, and especially under Part 392.  This is the driving chapter, and drivers are generally weak on this chapter.  They need to be coached, monitored, and audited for what they know and how they comply. 

The company cannot take it for granted that the drivers read and understand the regulations just because they’ve handed him/her a book.  But, just the mere fact that the company can prove that they have disseminated the information and then monitored what was gleaned from the information –even with simple tests gives the company a leg up on their protection in the eyes of the court system.

Remember that your company, your drivers can end up in front of a jury, so be prepared.

 

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