Semi-trucks are vehicles that have the potential to inflict a catastrophic amount of damage should they collide with another vehicle. The sheer size and weight of these vehicles allow them to not only crush cars with ease but also cover the entirety of a road in destruction. This is bad enough but these vehicles are also considered especially difficult to operate and can lose control when drivers make just one mistake. It is because of this that Semi-trucks are highly regulated in many ways. These regulations can have a significant impact on a truck accident survivor’s pursuit of compensation and play a major part in a future claim or lawsuit.
Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies Must Abide by Federal, State, and Local Trucking Regulations
Semi-trucks are beholden to many more rules and laws than your average motor-vehicle and must worry about regulations on the Federal, State and Local levels. Drivers are expected to be aware of the plethora of trucking laws in place and follow them to the letter or otherwise expect to endure severe penalties and that is not even if their ignorance of these laws causes an accident.
These laws don’t only extend to truck drivers but to the companies they are employed by as well. Many truckers are employed by dedicated trucking companies that are responsible for them and the accidents they can cause. These trucking companies are responsible for following many regulations related to hiring and supervision of their drivers that sometimes are ignored in the interest of profit.
Federal Trucking Regulation
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) is responsible for the majority of rules that truckers and trucking companies have to follow. This government entity works on the federal level which means that their rules apply to all truckers and trucking companies regardless of state. These regulations are to be followed by all commercial motor vehicles known as semi-trucks, tractor trailers, big rigs, or eighteen wheelers that weigh in excess of 10,000 lbs.
State Trucking Regulation
Florida has its own sets of laws that are to be followed by semi-truck drivers that find themselves in this state. These laws are enforced by the Florida Highway Patrol Office of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (OCVE). Florida trucking laws are just as important as federal laws and can make all the difference in a truck accident lawsuit. For example, vehicle height is not regulated on the federal level but in Florida there is a height limit of 13 feet, 6 inches (or 14 feet for automobile transporters).
Which Trucking Regulations are Broken the Most Often?
Both truckers and trucking companies can violate trucking laws and regulations and as a result cause severe accidents. Trucking regulations can apply to a number of aspects of trucking yet there are certain areas that are more commonly the source of negligence than others.
Hours of Service Regulations
One of the most common causes of semi-truck accidents is drowsy and fatigued driving. Driving while tired can actually impede you in ways similar to the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol. Your reflexes slow, motor control is reduced, judgement is impaired, and your perception is weaker.
Truck drivers are more likely than any other kind of driver, to drive drowsy and cause an accident due to the long hours they work. Hours of service regulations are put in place to ensure that drivers have mandatory rest breaks and cannot drive past a certain length of time. Specifically, truck drivers have an 11 hour daily driving limit if they are carrying cargo and a 10-hour daily limit if they are carrying passengers. Under Florida law, semi-truck drivers who carry property only may drive for up to 12 hours in a day. Federal and state laws put a limit on the number of hours a driver can be on duty in a six to eight day time window by requiring truck drivers to take a 34 hour break to reset their six to eight day driving period.
Truck drivers are also expected to log their hours spent driving in a logging device so that their supervisors can ensure they are adhering to these rules. Naturally, there are some drivers and employers that are negligent and either fail to do this or manipulate this documentation and put people at risk.
Alcohol and Drug Testing
Truck drivers have been found to be a demographic with a high chance of developing alcohol addiction and addiction to illegal substances such as amphetamines, opiates, and other drugs. Truck drivers are expected to drive sober for obvious reasons and are expected to undergo testing for drugs in their system before even being allowed to be employed. Despite this, truck drivers are still found to be under the influence when they cause an accident.
Size and Weight Restrictions
If you have driven on Florida’s interstates then you no doubt have seen weighing stations for semi-trucks at certain points of the road. These weigh stations are in place to ensure that these massive vehicles comply with regulations on size and weight put in place to help to keep these vehicles less likely to lose control and put other drivers in needless harm.
Semi-trucks are only allowed to be a maximum of 80,000 pounds on interstate and intrastate highways. Florida has a height limit of 13 feet 6 inches, hand overhang limit of three feet, and a 75 foot length and 102 inches width limit that does not include side mirrors.
Driver Hiring and Qualification
A semi-truck driver is expected to have all the necessary training and certification such as a commercial drivers license necessary to drive their commercial vehicle. They must also pass a background check and of course a drug test. Trucking companies are supposed to go through a thorough vetting process of those they hire to ensure that the people put behind the wheel of such potentially dangerous vehicles will not be a risk to others on the road.
While many trucking companies do make sure that those they hire are safe, things like driver shortages can drive some to skip some stages of the vetting process. This leads to people that should not be driving a semi-truck getting in control of a commercial vehicle and harming others when the entire thing could have been avoided.
Truck Inspection and Maintenance
Semi-trucks are much more complex than your average motor vehicle and can build up a great deal of wear and tear since they are on the road for long periods of time hauling massive weight. Regulations call for regular maintenance and inspections of commercial tractor trailers to help ensure that dangerous malfunctions and defects are kept to a minimum.
Drivers and trucking companies are expected to ensure that semi-trucks are in working order but the rush to complete jobs or other lapses in judgement can cause a failure to perform these essential inspections and maintenance and put people at risk. Maintenance companies that work on semi-trucks can also be negligent in the maintenance they perform and help cause semi-truck accidents.
How Can a Broken Trucking Regulation Result in an Accident?
It is not difficult for one simple act of negligence to cause a semi-truck accident. Semi-truck regulations are put in place to keep people safe and failing to do something as simple as a single truck inspection can have dire consequences. Failure to comply with semi-truck regulations is considered negligence. This negligence on the part of a driver or the company that hired them can make them liable for injuries caused by an accident the negligence helped occur.
Evidence of a Trucking Regulation Violation Can Help Strengthen Your Case
Being able to prove that a semi-truck driver or other liable party was negligent is integral to a truck accident injury lawsuit. Proving fault by establishing negligence is only one step of the process. Showing your injuries were directly caused by the accident and proving that your injuries are severe as you say also plays a large role in the process of seeking compensation after a truck accident. In order to achieve all of this one needs to have evidence.
How is Evidence of Broken Trucking Regulation Collected?
Thorough investigation of a semi-truck accident is how one obtains much of the evidence essential for a truck accident lawsuit. In some cases, gathering evidence at the scene of a truck accident in the aftermath is an option but for many, this is not possible due to the severity of their injuries. Therefore, an investigation utilizing several angles of gathering evidence is one’s best bet.
An experienced semi-truck accident attorney knows what to look for when investigating your case and can utilize several experts to get evidence that will prove integral at the negotiating table or at a trial. Professional investigators can utilize their skills to search the accident scene and look into the circumstances of an accident. Accident reconstruction experts can use models and algorithms to recreate the accident and establish the cause and fault based on black box information and details from the accident scene. Your attorney can also reach out to those that may have witnessed an accident and get useful testimony or even get ahold of camera footage if it is available.
Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney to Ensure You Get the Compensation You Deserve
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident with a commercial tractor trailer and have suffered severe injuries then do not hesitate to reach out and contact Jones Law Group about your case. You may be entitled to compensation for the damages you have suffered as a result of your semi truck accident that can include medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and even pain and suffering. Our firm’s specialty is assisting those harmed by negligent truck drivers and trucking companies with getting their life back on track through filing semi-truck lawsuits that can get you the compensation you need and deserve.
Our attorneys have years of experience working on truck accident cases and are ready to take on yours. For more information or to schedule a free case evaluation, please contact us online, by using our chat box, or by calling us at 727-571-1333.