What is the best way to recover damages after truck collision? Proving violations of federal regulations for 18 wheelers
Any driver knows that tractor trailers and other big trucks on the road are intimidating — and sometimes very dangerous. This is why Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations for 18 wheeler trucks are so important. To keep drivers safe on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted specific rules. But often trucking companies and truck drivers do not follow them in their hurry to make money. Regulations that are often broken include the following.
A. Qualifications of drivers:
How do we know if a driver was qualified when he was hired and is still qualified later? Semi trucks are so much bigger than personal vehicles that they behave differently on the road and are harder to control and stop. Operating them safely requires specific skills.
Specific licenses must be obtained to make sure truckers know how to operate their vehicles properly. There are three classes and five endorsements that must be secured. We at Berenson Injury Law have seen crashes caused by a commercial driver who does not have a commercial driver’s license, is driving with a suspended license, does not have a valid Texas license, has the wrong class or endorsement. In addition, an analysis of whether the driver is allowed to be driving intrastate or interstate is necessary.
Furthermore, the motor carrier must keep a file on each driver to prove that the driver is in fact qualified. The file must contain the following information:
- employment application,
- requests to his previous jobs for employment information,
- driving record over the past three years,
- road test,
- doctor’s exam, and
- annual reviews.
A personal injury lawyer subpoenas this file when he files a lawsuit and contacts police departments, previous employers, doctors, and other sources. He will have documents when he questions the driver and the company’s safety risk manager when he takes their depositions.
B. Driving hours restrictions:
Drivers are only allowed to drive certain hours to keep them alert (and awake) on the road:
- 11 hour limit: drivers cannot drive for more than 11 hours after they have been off duty for 10 straight hours,
- 14 hour rule: drivers cannot drive for more than 14 straight hours after they come on duty, and
- 60/70 hour limit: drivers cannot drive after 60 out of 70 hours in seven out of eight days.
Rest breaks must be taken. Drivers cannot drive more than eight hours in a row unless they have taken a break of 30 minutes for more.
C. Weight, cargo, repairs and maintenance, and parts and accessories:
- Trucks must operate under certain weight limits. If a truck is overloaded, it may put extra wear and tear on wheels, axles, and brakes. This can cause the driver to lose control on the road and cause a crash. If the trucker needs to brake hard but their truck is carrying too much weight, the brakes could fail.
- Cargo must be properly stored. Cargo that suddenly shifts inside the truck can cause the truck to veer out of control; it can also cause the storage doors to open, allowing the cargo to spill onto the roadway. This can cause driving hazards and damage to other drivers.
- Trucks need to be well maintained. Like any other vehicle on the road, having a semi truck break down can cause an accident. Because semi trucks are so big, they can block the roadway or cause issues if they need to pull over. Sudden damage can also cause the driver to lose control of their truck.
D. General regulations:
Truck drivers must adhere to the following conduct:
- They can’t use drugs or alcohol before operating their vehicle.
- They must avoid distracted driving, and are prohibited from using cellular devices, and
- They must drive appropriately for the weather, road conditions and time of the day.
All of these regulations exist to keep all motorists safe. But collisions occur on the road for a number of reasons. The truck crash must be carefully investigated to see what caused it. We are attending vehicle inspections with an accident reconstruction expert today in a new lawsuit we have filed against an 18-wheeler company and its driver.
The Fort Worth-Dallas area has far too many commercial truck collisions. There were almost 6,000 crashes that tragically took the lives of 53 people and hurt over 3,500 people just in 2017.
If you have experienced a truck collision that you believe could be caused by a driver or trucking company not adhering to the FMCSA 18 wheeler regulations or for any other reason, contact Berenson Injury Law. We have almost 40 years of experience helping our clients get good recoveries of money and the medical treatment they need after truck and automobile injury claims.
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