Lawyers preparing a suit against an interstate motor carrier have an investigation tool that many overlook. The Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C., Section 552, may be used to obtain records about a trucking company from the U.S. Department of Transportation. A request may be addressed to John H. Schnackenberg, FOIA Program Officer, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C. 20590. The FOIA request should refer to the date and place of the crash from which the representation arises, and specify the categories of documents requested. Those may include:
(1) The office of Motor Carrier Safety accident report submitted by the carrier regarding the specific accident, specifying the time, date, place and truck driver.
(2) Copies of the initial notice of applicable DOT-OMCS rules sent to the motor carrier by the FOMCS, DOT.
(3) Copies of all correspondence of records received from or sent to the carrier.
(4) All “driver equipment and compliance checks” completed on standard DOT – OMCS equipment and roadside check forms along with copies of any such reports returned to the DOT.
(5) All case reports prepared by any DOT – OMCS agent on this carrier.
(6) All safety compliance surveys conducted by any DOT – OMCS agent on the carrier.
(7) All notices of Civil Forfeiture Claims or Federal Court action documents sent to the above-mentioned companies, by DOT along with any enclosures attached thereto and answers received from the carrier.
(8) All memoranda and/or reviews maintained in the carrier’s files created by any state or federal agent, Regional Director, OMCS National Director or Counsel for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
(9) All settlement agreements, consent orders, or federal court action documents in reference to actions taken against the above-listed company, and any related news releases.
(10) The safety rating as maintained by the DOT – OMCS on the company on the date of the accident, and the carrier’s present safety rating.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).