After a commercial trucking crash, a serious investigation into the driver, motor carrier, and other involved parties needs to be conducted. This is a critical step in assigning liability and restoring justice to the injured party.
We at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC explain how to check a commercial driver’s car accident history. If you have questions about a collision in which you or a loved one were injured, please reach out to our office to discuss your case for free with one of our trucking accident experts.
Checking Driving Records for CMV Operators
Any driver of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) has a heavy responsibility. Trucking is serious business, requiring operators to remain on shift for up to 11 hours behind the wheel of a 40-ton vehicle.
Federal laws require strict recordkeeping to make sure drivers who don’t take their responsibilities seriously and cause crashes can’t hop from job to job without consequences. There should be a high level of accountability in such a dangerous industry. And if trucking companies don’t follow the law, they can also be held liable when an unqualified trucker on their payroll causes a wreck.
FMCSA Pre-Employment Screening (PSP) Records
Before being hired by a company, an applicant will undergo a “DOT background check” or a pre-employment screening using data housed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) provides trucking companies, drivers, industry service providers, and other qualified parties access to CMV drivers’ safety records.
A PSP report offers information that is helpful when looking into a trucker’s past history of commercial trucking driving. Patterns of negligent behaviors, federal law violations, failed drug or alcohol tests, and involvement in preventable accidents can be strong evidence against a trucker whose similar behaviors caused your crash.
Information included in an FMCSA PSP report includes:
- The driver’s most recent five years of crash data
- The driver’s most recent three years of roadside inspection data
- The location and date of a crash
- The motor carrier the driver worked for when a crash occurred
- Safety details about crashes, such as injuries, fatalities, and tow-aways
- Whether the vehicle was put out of service after a crash or failed inspection
State-Issued Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) Reports
While the PSP report includes data collected at the federal level, a more local state-based report can be found in the driver’s motor vehicle record (MVR) report. State MVR reports are also used by motor carriers conducting background checks on new hires, and by insurance companies, lawyers, and other agencies involved in risk management and accident investigation efforts.
An MVR report includes information specific to the state that issued the driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL), such as any motor vehicle convictions or tickets issued in the state and events that resulted in a citation or conviction in the state.
Personal State-Issued Driver Reports
If a trucker is under investigation, an attorney or insurance company may request the trucker’s personal driving record from the state in which they are licensed. This will show information about any accidents or incidents in which they were involved while driving with their state-issued personal driver’s license, not their commercial driver’s license.
In Maryland, for example, the licensed driver themself, the police, an insurance company, a hospital, or another entity using the information for official business purposes can request reports from the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).
Reports that detail a licensee’s three-year driving record—or complete driving history dating back to the day the license was first obtained—can be purchased online, at an MVA branch office, or by mail.
Just like commercial driving records, these personal driving records can help establish patterns of behavior. If these driving records can show that a truck driver was pulled over multiple times for drunk driving, issued numerous speeding tickets, or was involved in a suspiciously high number of collisions, for example, it can make it a lot easier to prove to the insurance company that the driver’s negligence makes them liable for the crash and your resulting damages.
Keep in mind that there’s a strong possibility that the truck driver involved in your Maryland 18-wheeler crash was licensed in another state. In such a case, investigations to check the commercial driver’s car accident history will need to determine where the trucker’s personal license and CDL were registered and request a report from that state’s department of motor vehicles or motor vehicle administration.
Checking a Trucking Company’s Safety Reports
It is often necessary to investigate not only the driver, but also the company that hired and employed them. Many driver mistakes are actually attributable to the motor carrier employer.
For example, if a company failed to conduct a background check when hiring the driver, ignored alcohol test results, did not equip drivers with the necessary training, or overworked drivers to the point of dangerous exhaustion, they may also be held liable for the damages caused by the driver.
Through the FMCSA’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System, a “Company Snapshot” can provide valuable information about:
- Company safety ratings
- Company safety records
- Roadside out-of-service inspection summaries
- Crash data
- And more
Other Information Used To Investigate a Truck Accident
In addition to a commercial driver’s car accident history and company safety records, there are a number of sources of evidence investigators use when determining the cause of a truck crash.
Attorneys skilled in truck accident investigation, like our team at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, know that one accident history report isn’t enough to analyze and identify all the factors that contributed to the crash—nor is it enough to convince a big insurance company representing the motor carrier that they are financially liable for damages you incurred in the collision.
Therefore, it’s important to gather an array of evidence that can tell the whole story of events leading to the crash. This might include:
- Dashcam or traffic camera footage
- Photos of the collision scene
- Eyewitness accounts of the crash
- Event data recorder (EDR, or “black box”) data stored in the truck
- Police report
- Any citations issued by law enforcement
- Alcohol and drug test results
- Electronic logging device (ELD) data that shows how long the trucker was on shift
- Analysis provided by traffic reconstructionists and other expert witnesses
- Damage to vehicles involved in the crash
- Evidence of bodily injuries suffered and notes from medical experts
Evidence like this can help establish a timeline of what went wrong to cause the crash, and whose actions or omissions fully or partially contributed to the outcome.
When handling truck accident claims at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we are also careful to amass as much proof as is needed to prove to the at-fault party’s insurance company that you deserve compensation—to the full degree to which you are entitled money for financial and non-financial losses.
Legal Help Investigating Your Truck Accident in Maryland
If you don’t know how to check a commercial driver’s car accident history after a Maryland truck crash, don’t worry—it’s not your job to track down a trucker’s past. As your legal representative, we do the leg work for you. This allows you to focus on your healing and recovery while you know that your case is in the best hands.
From researching a CMV operator’s past violations to examining company policies that may send unqualified drivers out on the road, we neglect no minor detail in investigating your truck accident claim. We know that the only way to hold the at-fault party accountable is to fully understand how the collision happened. Then, we can get to work recovering justice and keeping the trucking industry safer for all involved.
To learn more about how we can help you move forward with your tractor-trailer accident investigation, contact Belsky & Horowitz, LLC today. We provide free consultations to individuals and families injured in Maryland big rig collisions.