Commercial Truck Rules and Regulations
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides regulations for the safe operation of commercial vehicles. Federal rules and regulations apply to drivers, vehicles, hazmat cargo, carriers, and regulatory guidance. Commercial carriers and drivers must comply with rules governing such areas as fatigued driving (Hours of Service), vehicle maintenance, cargo, driver fitness, substance abuse, and many other areas.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the commercial motor carrier to ensure that the vehicles and drivers it employs meet all federal regulations to safeguard its employees and the general driving public. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the commercial driver to make sure they comply with the rules.
Before filing a truck accident lawsuit on behalf of a client who has been injured in a truck crash, our firm will first investigate the accident to determine whether the carrier and its vehicle and the truck driver complied with all federal and state safety rules.
Common Truck Accident Issues
In addition to being versed in the rules and regulations governing the trucking industry, your truck accident lawyer must also be prepared with a knowledge base about the specific technologies, insurance issues, multistate discovery practices, truck product liability issues, and other aspects of litigation unique to the commercial vehicle industry and this type of litigation.
Some of the most common issues faced in commercial vehicle litigation include:
- Truck driver fatigue: Hours of Service violations regulate the driving and rest periods of commercial bus and truck drivers to minimize drowsiness, which slows reaction times and promotes falling asleep at the wheel.
- Truck driver distraction: Drivers distracted by smartphones and other electronic devices can cause accidents through inattention.
- Rapid Response Teams: Trucking companies often contract and dispatch these teams to the crash site to mitigate their liability and any damages you may claim. They are often accused of destroying or tampering with evidence, interfering with law enforcement, and poor or skewed documentation. Our lawyers understand how rapid response teams work and the importance of prompt investigation.
- Importance of inspection and maintenance: Noncompliance with safety FMCSA rules and regulations is a leading cause of tractor-trailer accidents.
- Statutory background of federal trucking safety laws: Understanding the history of FMCSA regulations is key to comprehending the current regulatory structure
- Defective product: When investigating commercial truck cases, we sometimes find that a defective product, such as a brake, tire, or hitch malfunction, is to blame. Truck accident lawsuits involving product liability open the door to claims against a third party.
Truck Underride and Override Crashes
According to the Stop Underrides’ safety advocacy group, as many as 600 people die every year in truck underride accidents. Underrides often occur when a passenger vehicle collides with the back or side of a tractor-trailer or other large truck. The passenger vehicle goes under the truck, rendering the crashworthiness of the smaller vehicle useless. These and override crashes, in which a large heavy truck rides over the back of the passenger car, usually result in horrific, fatal injuries.
Federal law requires that tractor-trailers and most other large heavy trucks be equipped with a rear underride guard – a steel structure that is supposed to prevent a passenger car from sliding under the back of a truck. No front or side underride guards are currently required on trailers in the U.S., although there has been a vigorous push to change that.
More troubling still, the existing standards for rear underride guards are often inadequate and many rear guards fail to prevent underrides, even at relatively low speeds. Nobody deserves to die this way.
What damages can I claim?
When our truck accident lawyers argue your case in court or negotiate a settlement, they may seek several types of compensation for you, depending on your circumstances. These include:
Medical Expenses: Any medical expenses you incur for accident-related injuries, including past or future emergency care, surgeries, hospital stays, and other care.
Economic Damages: Any earnings you lose due to missed work related to your crash are recoverable.
Pain and Suffering: The severity and nature of your crash-related injury and the intensity and duration of the pain you suffer because of it may factor significantly into your claim for compensation.
Mental Anguish: Accident-related trauma can trigger a spectrum of emotional difficulty, such as anxiety, fear, humiliation, grief, worry, and so on, any of which can be considered when seeking compensation.
Loss of Consortium: After a trucking accident causes injury or death, survivors and family members may be deprived of the emotional union and activities they once shared. While this term usually refers to the relationship between spouses, it is often recognized in a legal context as the loss of parental consortium, allowing parents to seek compensation for the death or disability of a child and vice-versa.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, our personal injury lawyers would like to talk to you. We will evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation to you. Contact us today.