Federal Regulations Make Truck Accident Lawsuits Complex
If you have been in a truck accident and federal regulations were violated, your odds of winning your personal injury case are greatly increased. However, these regulations place liability on multiple parties, making these cases more complex.
The attorneys at Truck.Law are experienced in these cases. It is important to have an attorney knowledgeable in federal regulations and how they impact truck accident cases. A general guide of these regulations follows, but contact us now if you have been in a truck accident.
Who Makes Federal Regulations for Truck Drivers and Companies?
Commercial vehicles and motor carriers like large trucks and semis must follow regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations are designed to keep all motorists safe, but the organization reports that violations are common.
The most common violations are not always the fault of the truck driver. Many of the federal regulations for commercial vehicles fall under the responsibility of the trucking company. Cases involving an owner/operator are less complex, but can still require the attention of an experienced attorney.
How Do Vehicle Violations Impact Truck Accident Lawsuits?
The FMCSA has many regulations revolving around the equipment and maintenance required for commercial vehicles.
The most common vehicle violations that cause truck accidents are:
- Not having operable lamps
- Inoperative turn signal
- Defective windshield wipers
- Parts or accessories in disrepair
- Operating without periodic inspection
- Brakes in disrepair or imbalance
While the driver is required to do an inspection before every trip, part of the liability for these violations falls on the trucking companies that maintain the vehicles. If the trucking company or owner/operator uses an outside company for maintenance, that company could also be found liable depending on the circumstances.
How Do Driver Qualification Violations Impact Truck Accident Lawsuits?
The FMCSA also has regulations requiring specific training, licenses, and endorsements depending on the type of vehicle being driven.
The most common driver qualification violations that can lead to truck accidents are:
- Not having a valid medical certificate
- Not having proper license endorsements
- Lacking proper license for vehicle type
- Violating air brake restrictions
It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that they have had the necessary training and have the appropriate licenses and endorsements. However, it is also the responsibility of the trucking company not to use drivers that lack these requirements.
How Do Hours of Service Violations Impact Truck Accident Lawsuits?
The FMCSA has regulations that restrict the number of hours a driver may stay on the road. These restrictions are based on studies that have found drivers to be fatigued after a specified number of hours, making accidents more likely.
The most common hours of service violations that cause truck accidents are:
- Log missing information
- Not taking a 30-minute rest break after 8 hours of driving
- Violating 14-hour and 11-hour regulations
- Driving after 70 hours on duty within an 8 day period
It is the driver’s responsibility to maintain an accurate log and take themselves off the road when appropriate. However, it is also the trucking company’s responsibility to provide reasonable schedules that allow drivers to meet deadlines while operating within hours of service regulations.
How Do Controlled Substance Violations Impact Truck Accident Lawsuits?
Controlled substance regulations are more strict for commercial drivers than they are for domestic drivers. Among other things, the legal limit for truck drivers is 0.04 whereas it is 0.08 for traditional drivers. Truck companies also have a multitude of regulations to follow, including random drug testing.
The most common controlled substance violations include:
- Failing to implement a drug and alcohol testing program
- Using a driver before getting the result of a drug test
- Failing to conduct post-accident testing
- Failing to do random testing
- Driving with 0.04 BAC
- Using a driver who has testing positive for a drug
As you can see, the most common controlled substance violations fall under the liability of the trucking company rather than the truck driver. When a controlled substance is a cause of a truck accident, an investigation must be conducted to determine if both the driver and the truck company may be liable.
How Do Truck Driving Violations Impact Accident Lawsuits?
Truck drivers must follow all of the rules of the road, in addition to some additional rules for commercial vehicles. When truck drivers break these rules, they are liable for damages from a truck accident.
The most common truck driving violations that cause accidents are:
- Following too closely
- Improper lane changes
- Reckless driving
- Improper turns
- Failure to yield right of way
- Failure to obey traffic control devices
- Using a mobile phone while driving
- Driving under the influence
- Failing to secure load
- Failing to conduct a pretrip inspection
Even though these violations lay clear liability on the truck driver, further investigation could find that other regulations may also have been violated. For example, the driver is liable for driving under the influence, but if the trucking company doesn’t have a drug and alcohol testing program in place they could share some of the blame.
Federal Regulations Complicate Truck Accident Lawsuits
The bottom line is that truck accident lawsuits are made more complex by the multitude of federal regulations involved. The potential partial liability of multiple parties can make personal injury cases even more complex in states like Texas where percentages of responsibility are given to all parties.
If you have been in a truck accident, it is important to have an attorney who will look at every aspect of the case and identify all liable parties. Truck.Law will match you with an experienced truck accident attorney in your area.