Trucking is an essential industry that plays a significant role in the country’s economy. The industry helps transport goods nationwide, and its importance can’t be overstated. However, trucking is also a dangerous industry that poses significant risks to drivers, passengers, and others on the road. To ensure road safety, trucking companies, and drivers must adhere to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. If a trucking company violated regulations, it could cause devastating accidents, and they could face severe consequences.
Don’t hesitate to contact Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh if you’ve suffered harm due to a truck accident involving a violation of FMCSA regulations. You can contact us online or call (561) 295-5825 for a free case evaluation.
Trucking Regulations all Drivers and Companies Need to Follow
FMCSA subjects the U.S. trucking industry to various regulations to ensure safety and prevent accidents. Some of the most critical regulations in the trucking industry include the following:
- Hours of Service (HOS) rules: HOS regulations limit how long a driver can operate a commercial vehicle and how many hours they must rest between shifts. These rules help prevent driver fatigue, a leading cause of commercial truck accidents.
- Vehicle maintenance and inspection: Trucking companies must ensure that their vehicles are well-maintained and undergo regular inspections to ensure they are in proper working condition.
- Drug and alcohol testing: Drivers must undergo regular drug and alcohol testing to ensure they aren’t operating a commercial vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Licensing requirements: Commercial drivers must obtain specific licenses to operate commercial vehicles.
- Cargo securement: Trucking or loading companies have to safely secure cargo to prevent it from shifting or falling off during transit.
What is the FMCSA?
The FMCSA is a federal agency responsible for regulating and overseeing the trucking industry. The agency is part of the United States Department of Transportation and was established in 2000 to improve safety in the trucking industry. The FMCSA’s primary responsibilities include the following:
- Setting and enforcing safety standards: The FMCSA establishes safety standards for the trucking industry to ensure that drivers, passengers, and other individuals on the road are safe.
- Investigating complaints and accidents: The agency also investigates complaints and accidents involving commercial vehicles to determine the cause and prevent future incidents.
- Providing resources and education: The FMCSA designs these resources to help trucking companies understand and comply with safety regulations.
What Does the FMCSA Do if a Trucking Company Violated Regulations?
If a trucking company or driver violates a regulation, the FMCSA can take various actions to address the issue. The agency may investigate whether a violation occurred and gather evidence to support its findings. Depending on the severity of the violation, the FMCSA can issue fines, require corrective action, and even shut down a company’s operations.
The FMCSA may also issue an out-of-service order prohibiting a driver or company from operating a commercial vehicle until they address the violation. Additionally, the FMCSA may downgrade a company’s safety rating if it has a history of non-compliance. This could make it difficult for the company to obtain new contracts, insurance, or financing.
Will the FMCSA’s Investigation Help Me in Court?
If you’re involved in a truck accident caused by a violation of FMCSA regulations, the agency’s investigation may help support your case. The investigation may provide evidence of negligence, including driver fatigue, improper vehicle maintenance, or non-compliance with drug and alcohol testing requirements. With this information, your attorney can prove liability in a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim.
However, it’s important to note that the FMCSA’s investigation isn’t the only evidence you’ll need to prove liability in court. Your lawyer will also need to gather additional evidence, including witness statements, police reports, and medical records.
How to Prove that a Truck Driver or Third Party is Liable
Proving liability in a truck accident case can be challenging, especially when dealing with a large trucking company with extensive resources. However, several pieces of evidence can help prove liability, helping you obtain money for your damages. These pieces of evidence include the following:
- Driver logs and records: The driver’s logs and records provide evidence of driver fatigue or non-compliance with hours of service regulations.
- Vehicle maintenance and inspection records: These records provide evidence of vehicle defects or maintenance issues that contributed to the accident.
- Eyewitness accounts: Witness statements can help provide an accurate account of the events leading up to the accident.
- Police report: Police reports can help establish liability and determine if any traffic violations were committed.
- Black box data: Trucks are equipped with electronic control modules (ECMs), also known as “black boxes.” They provide data on the truck’s speed, braking, and other important information leading up to the accident.
- Phone records: Cell phone records help determine if the driver used a cellphone while operating their vehicle.
- Drug and alcohol testing records: These records can provide evidence of driver impairment during the accident.
Will They Fire the Truck Driver?
If a truck driver violates FMCSA regulations, the company may terminate their employment. However, whether or not they choose to fire the truck driver depends on the specific circumstances of the violation. The driver may receive a warning or reprimand if the violation is minor and doesn’t pose a significant safety risk. However, if the violation is severe, the driver may face disciplinary action, including termination.
What if the Trucking Company Has Committed Multiple Offenses?
As stated earlier, the FMCSA can punish trucking companies for repeated rule breaks. They can do this by downgrading the safety ratings of multiple offenders. A reduced rating hurts a company’s ability to obtain new business. The FMCSA can also levy significant fines and administer other severe penalties.
How Can Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh Help Me with My Claim?
KMW attorneys have extensive experience in truck accidents and other personal injury cases. If you decide to work with us, we’ll work tirelessly to protect your rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation by contacting us online or calling (561) 295-5825.