Trucking accidents, accidents caused by driver fatigue, poor vehicle maintenance, and unsafe road conditions, may be the fault of more than one party. Truck operators, trucking companies and cargo owners may be held accountable and liable for your injuries from a truck cargo accident.
With the sky-high statistics, the laws surrounding truck accidents should be something the public has more exposure to, given that we share the road with these massive vehicles every day. That being said, it takes a lawyer with "in the trenches" experience in this complex area of Personal Injury law to successfully litigate a trucking accident case. These cases are highly difficult to handle without experience, because they involve the Department of Transportation (DOT), federal law, and Florida state law.
Who is the Department of Transportation?
The Department of Transportation is transparent in their mission. On their website (dot.gov) they clearly state their purpose is to:
Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.
The goal of the DOT is public safety. Americans travel 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That’s a lot of work, but the DOT is dedicated to serving the public and providing for their best interests. That’s why they employ 55,000 government workers all over the United States. By maintaining public safety and regulating the laws surrounding transportation, the DOT is able to, as they state via their website, “contribute to the nation’s economic growth”.
Alongside the Department of Transportation are FMCSA and FMCSR, which further uphold the regulatory standards put in place for trucking carriers and their operators.
What is FMCSA and FMCSR? Why are they important?
When it comes to the law in a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) case involving negligent truck drivers, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (or FMCSR) are crucial to establishing liability and thereby negligence in a personal injury case.
FMCSR applies to every commercial vehicle on the road. This is defined as any “self-propelled or towed motor vehicle” that is driven or pulled on a highway or interstate for either commerce, property, or to transport passengers.
The above regulations apply when a vehicle:
- Has a vehicle weight or combined weight of 10,001 pounds or more;
- Was designed to be used as transport vehicle for more than (8) eight passengers (this including the driver) for financial gain.
- Is used to transport more than (15) fifteen passengers (this including the driver) and is not designed to transport for compensation;
- Is used for transporting materials deemed to be hazardous (Hazmat) under the law.
FMCSR is considered the minimum requirement as per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Your attorney should never give up if the “defendant” (in this instance the trucking company by which the driver was employed at the time of the accident, injury, or death) has the ability to show they were simply complying with their federal regulations, which are the bare minimum.
What are Hours of Service?
Truck driver fatigue is an epidemic that can be curbed simply by upholding the standards put in place for trucking operators. These standards are meant to ensure that truck drivers rest, eat, and take time away from the road for their own health and safety, as well as the safety of the public. Long haul trucking is known to cause dizziness, fatigue, and burnout in drivers who fail to rest adequately and eat nutritionally beneficial food. The result of which can cause fatal accidents should the driver fall asleep behind the wheel.
To ensure public safety as well as the safety of those who are employed to commute in commercial vehicles, the DOT has provided a thorough list of regulations that explicitly state the requirements that need be met to help trucking operators avoid carrier fatigue at all costs. These regulations as a whole are known as Hours of Service. The DOT (dot.gov) goes on to list everything from specific driving limits to mandatory rest breaks, all of which we've laid out below:
- Property carrying drivers: 11-hour driving limit; a driver may only drive a maximum of 11 consecutive hours, after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Passenger carrying drivers: 10-hour driving limit; a driver may only drive a maximum of 10 hours, after 8 consecutive hours off duty.
- Rest break requirements: a trucking operator may only drive if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last “off-duty” or rest period (must be at least 30 minutes).
What should be done, legally, after a trucking accident?
Seek trucking accident-experienced legal representation and schedule a consultation. After the initial consultation, should the case move forward, a Board Certified civil trial lawyer will know exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to recover the maximum amount of compensation for a trucking related accident. This is because a Board Certified civil trial lawyer has advanced knowledge of federal, state, and specifically trucking (FMCSA, FMCSR) related laws that their non-Board Certified peers don’t have! A Board Certified Personal Injury lawyer is held to a higher standard, and therefore has the passion to work harder for the client.
A lot of accident law firms will advertise that they’re prepared to take on a large truck accident claim, but have never seen one through to trial. This is not only deceitful advertising, but can severely hurt the client in the end, and can cause them to lose millions of dollars in damages that may have been recovered by a more experienced truck accident lawyer.
Shaked Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients who have suffered trucking related accidents resulting in injuries due to a trucking operator failing to uphold regulations, suffering from driver fatigue, and improperly securing their cargo.
Contact our Truck Accident Lawyers today for a free consultation; there's no obligation!