The initial inquiries for drivers involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle typically focus on the driver of the truck: was he qualified to drive such a vehicle? What did he do behind the wheel that may have been negligent? Was he intoxicated at the time of the accident? But particularly in the context of a truck accident, the investigation of possible negligence necessarily fans out to include who the driver was working for — especially if the driver is an employee. In California, the law provides for employer liability for any wrongful acts committed by its employees in the course of their employment. As companies usually have more financial and insurance resources to pay damages claims than truck drivers do, this is always a key consideration for a personal injury plaintiff.

But how can you prove employer liability? The law will require you to present evidence; where can you find it?

One possible source of evidentiary information is the vehicle and driver-related records that the truck company must maintain under Federal law. These regulations fall under the auspices of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

FMCSA regulations require trucking companies to comply with and to document information pertaining to the hiring, qualifications, training and working hours of employees. They also require trucking companies to maintain logs and other records, including documentation of truck maintenance and repairs. All of these records may become subject to production and inspection (“discovery” in legal parlance) in the event that a lawsuit is filed naming the company as a defendant.

If these records reveal that the trucking company failed to comply with its recordkeeping obligations under the FMCSA regulations, then you may have a source of evidence that you can use to support your case for negligence not only against the driver, but his employer as well.