UNITED STATES—An accident involving two passenger vehicles can be tragic. However, imagine colliding with a fully loaded commercial truck, one that could weigh 80,000 pounds. Accidents involving big rigs often have traumatic results. The drivers of these massive vehicles must adhere to federal regulations, but that doesn’t mean that every truck driver follows the rules. Some violate these regulations and that’s when accidents could occur.

If you’ve been injured in a collision with one of these beasts of the road, Whitley Law Firm truck accident attorneys can help you seek accountability and compensation. From their free consultation all the way up to a settlement, they’ll fight for you to get every penny you deserve.

How Federal Regulations Impact Big Rig Accident Claims and Lawsuits

Commercial truck drivers are bound to the rules of the road just like every other vehicle. However, they also have another set of federal regulations they must adhere to. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has created regulations that truck drivers in all fifty states must follow. They were put in place to ensure that all public roads in the country are safe from the hazards that big trucks can create if not operated in a safe manner.

FMCSA regulations cover all aspects of the commercial trucking industry with their focus being on driver and truck operation safety. The main points of these regulations include:

  • The driver must possess a commercial driver’s license
  • For interstate commerce, the driver must be at least 21 years of age
  • Drivers cannot operate their trucks for over eight hours without taking a 30-minute break
  • After being off duty for 10 hours, truck drivers can only drive for 11 hours
  • Drivers must inspect their vehicles daily
  • Federal employees have the right to inspect trucks at any time
  • Interstate carriers are limited to the amount of weight they can haul
  • After an accident, a commercial truck driver must submit to a drug and alcohol test

Federal Regulations and Negligence Per Se

After a truck accident, if it’s found that the driver violated any FMCSA regulations, the driver would automatically be found at fault. In normal personal injury car accident cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proving negligence and causation. However, if a truck driver has violated FMCSA regulations, the plaintiff no longer has those burdens. The driver of the truck will be found liable for the accident.

For example, if it’s been found that the driver drove more than the allowed time without appropriate and mandatory break times, the accident victim doesn’t have the burden of proving negligence. It’s the same if the driver doesn’t perform the mandatory daily truck inspections. Any violation of FMCSA regulations proves negligence per se.

Trucking Companies Responsibilities

Just as the truck driver is responsible for following all FMCSA regulations, the trucking company that employs them is also responsible for ensuring that their drivers operate safely and that their vehicles also comply with all regulations. Your personal injury attorney can help to determine if not only the driver of the truck is liable but also the trucking company. Trucking companies are required to:

  • Check the applicant’s driving record for at least the last 3 years
  • Administer road tests for all applicants
  • Must perform a background check
  • Must conduct annual drivers’ reviews
  • Must conduct random drug tests of all drivers

How a Truck Accident Attorney Can Help

To prove negligence in a truck accident lawsuit, it could prove to be difficult for a layperson to have the knowledge of FMCSA regulations and how to spot violations. Trucking companies may not be very helpful to truck accident plaintiffs seeking information. However, with the help and guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney, they can dig through the red tape and roadblocks of a savvy trucking company whose insurance company is trying to offer a quick settlement.

Many truck accident cases could have multiple parties liable and these cases require an experienced legal team to provide the best results. An attorney will have the legal know-how to obtain driver’s logs and truck maintenance forms along with the knowledge of how to research the FMCSA’s safety compliance program. It would be foolish to attempt to gather this type of information without the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer.

The Impact of Federal Regulations and Truck Accident Claims Explained

Commercial truck drivers are held to much higher safety standards than other vehicles on the road. Due to their immense size and damage potential, the Federal government has enacted many regulations to ensure that public roads are as safe as possible.

Unfortunately, truck accidents still occur despite Federal regulations. Texting and driving in the US isn’t news, and more and more drivers are getting involved in dangerous collisions with trucks. Victims of truck accidents should never attempt to file a lawsuit or negotiate with a trucking company without the guidance of an experienced truck accident attorney. Let the professionals handle your claim while you recover from the accident.