While there are many different causes of truck accidents, some of them could be directly affected by FMCSA regulations. There may be a variety of issues that will impact liability in a truck accident claim, along with the kinds of evidence that could be obtainable to prove violations of regulations or general negligence.
Impact of Federal Trucking Laws on a Truck Accident Claim
One law that may matter in a truck accident claim pertains to the amount of time a driver is allowed to operate a semi. The FMCSA, which oversees this industry, has limits in place when it comes to how often a truck driver can get behind the wheel of a big rig and for how long. These are known as the hours-of-service rules.
A violation may determine the cause of the crash. For instance, if it’s found the driver went past the allowable time it could support claims that he/she was drowsy when the accident occurred or fell asleep at the wheel. Because drivers are required to keep logs on the number of hours spent driving, that information could be used as evidence in a truck accident claim.
Another FMCSA regulation that may be applicable pertains to a driver’s qualifications. Those who operate large trucks must meet specific medical requirements. One example is impairment of the hand which would interfere with handling of the vehicle. Allowing an unqualified person to drive could be considered negligence, which may be proven by obtaining the driver’s personnel file.
Unlike other accidents where alcohol testing is only conducted when there is a reasonable suspicion, federal law requires that these tests be conducted if there was a fatality.They are also given at random intervals, and the results should be recorded by the trucking company.
Cell phone usage may impact a claim. Despite some states allowing limited or full use of mobile devices, truck drivers are prohibited from using a handheld device. It doesn’t matter what the location, all handheld devices are not allowed. Again, this could end up being considered a contributing factor in a crash.
Establishing Fault in a Truck Accident
Common types of evidence that are gathered in any type of crash are:
- a copy of the police report;
- statements from witnesses; and
But with truck accidents, there is often much more that can be collected and may be useful in an accident claim:
- inspection reports;
- driving history;
- personnel files; and
- data from an automatic onboard recording device.
By securing as much proof as possible, it could be that not only is the driver liable for the accident, but so is the trucking company and other parties, such as whoever leases the cab and/or trailer. It may be that numerous violations from the trucking company could help substantiate liability as well.
Secure Legal Counsel with Gacovino, Lake & Associates
A thorough investigation may uncover additional information that helps to establish fault. Since FMCSA regulations may play a role, it’s important to secure legal counsel that is knowledgeable with truck accident cases.
Compensation could be available to address:
- the medical costs incurred;
- lost wages; and
- pain and suffering and more.
Oftentimes more compensation is available when dealing with a company, so it’s important to have as much evidence as possible. An attorney can even send a spoliation letter to the trucking company informing it that it must preserve certain evidence.
Contact an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates to learn more about the impact FMCSA regulations may have on a case. A lawyer at our firm can help file a truck accident claim and collect necessary evidence to demonstrate liability for the accident.