Certain types of commercial trucks are subject to regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It’s important to understand when this may apply to a truck accident case, as a driver or trucking company may be in violation of FMCSA rules.
Trucks Subject to Federal Regulations
Some regulations only apply to commercial motor vehicles (CMV) whose gross vehicle/combination weight or rating is less than 26,001 pounds and more than 10,000 pounds. The same is true for vehicles designed/used for the transportation of nine to 15 passengers, which includes the driver.
Additional regulations apply to CMVs that operate in interstate commerce when the weight is 26,001 pounds or more. This also applies when designed/used to transport 16 or more passengers (again, including the driver). Regardless of size, stricter regulations also apply to trucks that transport hazardous materials and require a placard.
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How Violations of Federal Regulations May Impact a Truck Accident Case
Because the size of the truck may determine applicable regulations, it’s a good idea to talk with an attorney if seriously injured in an accident. You can discuss which FMCSA rules apply to the truck and trucking company, and whether there was a violation.
Regardless of size, all CMVs must meet driver qualifications:
- age requirements;
- physical standards;
- a valid license; and
An example of a violation is learning the driver was operating a truck with a suspended license. Another regulation that applies to all CMVs are the hours-of-service rules. These stipulate on-duty and off-duty times, including the amount of time spent behind the wheel. Exceeding the allowable driving time is a violation.
All CMVs must adhere to federal regulations pertaining to inspection, repairs and maintenance. For instance, trucking companies must retain records for at least a year. These may help show defects or other problems that might have contributed to an accident. Failing to keep these records is a violation.
As mentioned, certain types of trucks must abide by additional regulations. Drivers who transport hazardous materials have to undergo special training. There are also preventative measures to prevent spills. Failure to comply could become an important factor in an accident.
How an Attorney Can Help after a Serious Truck Accident
Because of the many different issues that can affect this type of case, it’s important to secure help from an attorney familiar with these laws. A violation could lead to more than a citation. It may help show negligence, establishing fault with the driver and the trucking company. If the violation was not a sole cause of the accident, it may be a contributing factor.
An attorney can help collect the evidence necessary to demonstrate liability. This may include records and information in the trucking company’s possession. To preserve these documents, sometimes the attorney will send a spoliation letter. This puts the trucking company on notice that it’s illegal to destroy or alter relevant documentation.
If the accident resulted in serious injuries, an attorney can also help prove these damages. This will help determine the types of damages recoverable such as for medical bills, lost income and more.
Talk to David Bressman about the specifics of your case. Call us at (614) 538-1116.