Tractor-trailer carriers are rated by the federal government and their safety records are important evidence for personal injury lawyers when their big rigs crash into other vehicles and cause personal injuries and sometimes deaths.
However a new FMCSA rule changes what evidence will be available to prosecute tractor-trailer companies. Giant companies like J.B. Hunt and Federal Express can now ask the FMCSA to remove crashes from their histories to improve their safety reputation at trial.
How tractor-trailer companies receive safety scores
The FMCSA assigns points to motor carriers to gauge safety risks in seven categories called the BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories), which are:
- Unsafe driving
- Hours of service violations
- Driver fitness, including medical and experience
- Drugs or alcohol use
- Vehicle maintenance
- Issues related to transport of hazardous materials
- Crash history and factors
The FMCSA calculates the BASIC points to arrive at a Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) final score. A higher score reflects an increased risk of an accident.
The FMCSA only counts preventable accidents in the crash history category. A collision that is found not to be the truck driver’s fault does not affect the BASIC score. This fact makes the determination of fault very important to the motor carrier company and the public.
New rule helps motor carriers lower their BASIC crash score
After a crash investigation, the FMCSA decides whether an accident was preventable or not. Then points are added to the BASIC score for a crash the truck driver could have prevented.
The new FMCSA program gives motor carriers an opportunity to appeal inclusion of certain accidents.
The FMCSA may also add to the appealable list accidents in which the driver hit an animal or committed suicide by wrecking his or her semi.
What does the FMCSA crash score regulation mean for you?
The new rule could leave unsafe companies in operation. The FMCSA usually intervenes if a motor carrier racks up enough CSA points. At the time of an accident, the FMCSA conducts a thorough investigation to make its determination as to crash history points. This appeal system might reverse numerous outcomes and result in removal of the accidents from the company’s CSA record.
In addition, the rule could impact your case against the tractor-trailer corporation responsible for your injuries. The motor carrier’s safety record is a major issue at trial. An accurate crash record is important evidence to demonstrate fault.
Berenson Injury Law has helped tractor-trailer crash victims for the past 36 years. One of the first things we do is to research the company’s CSA score and crash history and the truck driver’s driving and criminal history so we can use this evidence to our client’s advantage.
Please call, email, or meet with us to discuss how we can help you with your 18 wheeler collision injury case.