When a motor vehicle is involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, chances are the vehicle’s occupants won’t escape some level of injury. An accident with a big rig can not only lead to serious injury, but to possible legal and insurance expenses.
If you are involved in a trucking accident caused by the negligence of the truck driver, it’s important to know that there are some important regulations to which trucking companies must adhere. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the lead agency responsible such regulation and for providing safety oversight of commercial vehicles. State regulations very frequently mirror those of the FMCSA.
What you need to know when involved in an accident with a big rig
The purpose of the many strict state and federal regulations governing truck drivers and their employers is to prevent catastrophic and deadly crashes. If a truck driver fails to follow these regulations and causes an accident, both he and the trucking company may be held liable.
Here is a summary of some of the most commonly violated regulations.
- Mobile phone use restrictions: Just as for any driver, distracted driving is very dangerous, especially for a trucker driving a huge 18-wheeler. Truckers can only use hands-free phones that are in easy reach. Drivers are deemed non-compliant if they unsafely reach for a mobile phone. They must be seated in a driving position and wearing a seat belt.
- Hours of service regulations: To prevent driver fatigue, the FMCSA’s hours of service (HOS) regulations limit the amount of time a trucker can drive, how many breaks he or she must take, and for how long.
- Driver qualifications: To address the concern that trucking companies were hiring less-than-qualified drivers for their own profits, the FMCSA has established regulations for anyone receiving their commercial driver’s license (CDL). The agency also requires that all trucking companies maintain a file for each driver they hire, including their application for employment, their past three year’s driving records, an annual review of their driving record, road test certification, and a medical examiner’s certificate.
- Alcohol and drug testing: The FMCSA has four potential testing scenarios for alcohol and drug testing: pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, random drug tests, and post-accident drug tests. Employers must have a trained employer representative who is required to oversee employer compliance with these regulations.
- Truck maintenance: The FMCSA regulates every component on a big rig, which includes parts used and how and when the vehicle is maintained. These regulations cover everything from the vehicle size, weight limits, brake and wiring systems to exhaust systems, cargo loading and requirements for hazard waste transportation.
It is always in the best interest of the trucking company to follow all of the regulations because they can be held responsible for the actions of their truck drivers. They can also be found liable if they fail to comply with the regulations, or are negligent in their hiring and supervisory practices.
All trucking companies must carry liability insurance, with much higher coverage than for regular motor vehicles, given their size and weight and the damage they could do in an accident.
It’s very important that when determining who to hire to represent you for any injuries sustained in a tractor-trailer crash that you hire an experienced New York 18-wheeler accident attorney at a personal injury firm that focuses on such claims. They can gather the necessary data and piece together the accident to prove your claim against a negligent 18-wheeler driver.
If you are the victim of a trucking accident, please call us. Because of the many state and federal regulations that come into play with such accidents you would benefit from our personal injury law firm’s knowledge and experience.
If you have questions about this article or any other questions related to personal injury law, please call us toll free at 1-800-LAW-1333. Our personal injury consultations are always free.
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