There can be many complex issues that arise in any type of accident claim. However, truck accident claims tend to be especially complicated for a variety of reasons, such as the various regulations affecting the case and the availability of different types of evidence.
Impact of Federal Regulations in a Truck Accident Claim
One of the biggest differences between a car accident claim and truck accident claim is the fact that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees the trucking industry. This agency strives to make the roads safer by enforcing federal rules and regulations that the trucking company must follow.
Because their main focus is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths, victims of truck accidents should determine if the trucker or trucking company violated any of these federal regulations. Not only could this result in the trucking company and its driver facing penalties; it could help establish fault.
For instance, there are rules regarding the amount of time that a truck driver can operate a semi. By placing limits on driving, it reduces the chance of an accident caused by fatigue or falling asleep at the wheel.
Regulations also prohibit truck drivers from using a handheld device to talk or text. So it doesn’t matter if the driver happens to be traveling through a state where cell phone use while driving is allowed or the laws are limited. Truck drivers cannot use them. Again, this could come into play when determining fault in an accident.
Federal regulations from the FMCSA apply to:
- truck drivers;
- the vehicles;
- trucking companies; and
- hazmat material transport.
For this reason, it is important to talk with an attorney when pursuing an accident claim.
Impact of Evidence in a Truck Accident Claim
The type of evidence relevant to the case is another reason truck accident claims are more complicated than car accident claims. In a typical accident, proof may include a police report, statements from witnesses and photographs. While this can certainly be helpful in a truck accident case, there are additional types of evidence used as well.
One example is the driver’s logbook, where the record of duty status indicates how much time the driver spent:
- on duty;
- off duty; and
- using a sleeper berth.
This could help prove a violation of the hours-of-service rules. Claimants can also find the same information in an automatic onboard recording device. Yahoo! News recently reported on a truck accident in upstate New York and listed some additional rules to which truckers must adhere, “In New York, trucks are required to be inspected at least once a year and are subjected to random roadside checks by the Department of Transportation or state troopers, said Jennifer Post, spokeswoman for the DOT.
“Drivers are also required to do a ‘walk-around’ inspection of their trucks every time they make a trip, checking — among other things — tire pressure and condition, brakes and the coupling between truck and trailer.” Thus, there are many more regulations and rules that a standard passenger car isn’t liable by law to perform before driving.
There may also be other types of evidence that can be helpful to the case; for instance, records that indicate whether a driver was medically fit to operate a semi or proof that the driver possessed a proper license. It may even be possible to obtain the trucker’s driving history to learn if there were previous problems with traffic violations or impairment.
Importance of Seeking Legal Help after a Truck Accident
With the potential to build a strong case based on evidence unique to a truck accident, it’s best to consult an attorney, especially since the trucking company may destroy or alter some of these records. An attorney can ensure that all evidence is preserved by sending a spoliation letter.
But it’s also important to seek legal counsel because oftentimes injuries from a truck accident are disabling or life-threatening. There can be a lot at stake financially, so don’t delay contacting an attorney. Gacovino, Lake & Associates can help accident victims pursue a truck accident claim and appropriate compensation for damages. Call us at 800-246-4878 to set up a consultation with an attorney.