In a collision with a large commercial truck, passenger vehicle occupants often suffer serious injuries or death. Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits arising from these accidents are complex cases, involving state and federal regulations and multiple potentially responsible parties. It is essential to have an experienced personal injury lawyer with a comprehensive understanding of commercial vehicle laws and safety regulations to handle your claim.
Interstate commercial trucking is closely regulated by state and federal safety standards. These laws are administered by several different agencies, including state departments of transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Trucking companies and their drivers are regulated as to driver licensing, vehicle inspections, maximum load weights, and the number of hours a trucker can drive without rest. In pursuing a claim for compensation, it is important to inspect the compliance of the driver and trucking company with these safety regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was created under the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. It is a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation that came into existence on January 1, 2000. FMCSA headquarters are in Washington, D.C. It has more than 1,000 employees in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. FMCSA has the primary mission of reducing traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large commercial trucks and buses.
To accomplish its goals, FMCSA works with federal, state, and local enforcement agencies, labor and safety interest groups, and the motor carrier industry. Activities of FMCSA help increase safety in the trucking industry and motor carrier operations through:
Federal and state laws require that a commercial truck involved in a crash be inspected by a certified inspector before the truck is removed from the accident scene. This inspection can provide crucial information about the cause of the crash to support a trucking accident claim. A lot can be determined from skid marks, tire tracks, and data stored electronically in the truck’s black box.
The black box is part of commercial truck’s equipment. It continuously stores information concerning the truck and the actions of the driver. Among many other things, black box data includes the speed at which the truck was traveling, the location of the truck, use of the emergency brake, and hard braking or turning on the part of the driver. Black box data is vital to an investigation conducted on behalf of a truck accident victim.
Truck drivers are regulated as to how many hours they can be on the road, when they stop for rest breaks, and how much they sleep in between driving stints. The hours of service log kept in the truck can provide information as to whether the driver was compliant with these federal regulations.
If you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a trucking accident that was someone else’s fault, contact Fountain Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible. We have a comprehensive understanding of federal and state commercial vehicle regulations and how they impact truck accident cases.