FMCSA Regulations Designed to Reduce Tractor Trailer Accidents
Overview of FMCSA Truck Regulations Designed to Reduce Deadly Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is tasked with enacting and enforcing rules intended to reduce the potential of truck accidents on our nation’s roadways. Charging the FMCSA with these duties and many others is in large part due to statistics regarding deadly and injury-causing crashes, as revealed by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Traffic Safety Facts:
- In 2017, there were more than 4,450 fatal collisions on US roads involving a truck, leading to the deaths of 5,005 victims;
- That same year, 116,000 truck accidents caused injuries to at least one person;
- The 2017 figures represent an increase over 2016, in which there were 4,116 deadly crashes and 112,000 injury-causing collisions.
These statistics drive FMCSA rule-making efforts, so the resulting regulations are strict and complex, leading the trucking industry to be one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country. Violations of the law increase the potential for crashes, but they also have an impact on your claim if you were hurt or lost a loved one in a collision with a semi, 18-wheeler, or other commercial vehicle. A Maryland truck accident lawyer can explain the implications for your case, but an overview of some relevant FMCSA regulations may be informative.
General FMCSA Trucking Documentation
An entire section of the regulations covers the types of documentation that must be in place for a truck to legally operate. Besides a history of inspections and maintenance, the paperwork must include information on whether the semi had previously been in an accident.
Training and License Requirements for CMV Operators
Driving an 18-wheeler is very different from operating a car, so FMCA rules cover training, education, a medical certificate, and other requirements for a commercial driver’s license.
Regulations Regarding Proper Driving of Semis
One of the most important rules in this category covers Hours of Service (HOS) – the time limitations on how long a truck operator can be behind the wheel. These regulations mandate rest periods, prohibit driving more than 14 consecutive hours, and limit the number of hours a driver can work within a week-long period. There are also provisions regarding drunk and drugged driving, making illegal to operate a truck after consuming substances less than four hours prior.
A semi carrying flammable, explosive, or other hazardous materials are subject to stricter rules because of the risks involved with the cargo. Regulations cover how the substances must be loaded and stored, and there are even restrictions on where the vehicle can be parked.
Violations of FMCSA Regulations and Maryland Truck Accident Laws
While strict compliance with these rules and many others is crucial for truck operators, they may also affect your rights if you were injured or lost a loved one in a crash. The reason is that you must prove four essential elements.to recover monetary damages in a truck accident:
- You need to show that the truck operator had a duty to drive safely;
- You must prove that the truck driver breached this legal duty;
- You have to establish a causal link between the breach of duty and the truck accidents that led to a fatality or injury; and,
- You need to show that you suffered losses because of the truck crash, such as physical, financial, and emotional harm.
Violations of FMCSA truck regulations enter the picture with respect to elements #1 and #2 above. You can prove the existence of a duty by showing that the truck operator is bound to comply with all rules of the road and FMCSA regulations. The specifics of the duty may depend upon the type of truck, what the driver was hauling, and many other factors. Regarding the breach of duty in #2, a violation of truck industry rules may serve as powerful evidence. There are multiple parties that may have failed to comply with an FMCSA regulation, so you may seek your legal remedies by pursuing:
- The truck operator;
- A trucking company that employs the driver;
- An entity that owns the semi tractor;
- Any organization involved with storing, loading, and unloading cargo;
- A company that is responsible for inspections, maintenance, and repairs to the truck and/or trailer;
- A manufacturer that produces defective parts that did not comply with FMCSA specifications; and,
- Many other entities.
Compensation for Truck Accident Victims and Families
By proving the four essential elements described above, you could be entitled to various monetary damages depending on your situation. Injured victims may recover:
- Economic Damages: This type of compensation covers the expenses you incur and quantifiable losses you sustain because of being hurt. Examples include the costs of medical treatment, lost wages if you were unable to work, and out-of-pocket expenses.
- Non-Economic Damages: Some losses may not be measurable in dollar value, but you do experience a diminished quality of life because of your injuries. Often termed “pain and suffering,” non-economic damages include emotional distress; scarring and disfigurement; and losses that affect your personal relationships with a spouse, children, and other loved ones.
- Compensation for Wrongful Death Claims: If you lost a loved one in a fatal truck crash, you may qualify to pursue a wrongful death case against the responsible individuals and entities. A wrongful death claim is intended to help survivors recover for the losses they suffer because their family member died. It is possible to obtain damages for funeral and burial costs; medical bills for the deceased person’s treatment before death; amounts for lost financial contributions the decedent would have provided; and, losses related to consortium, guidance, education, support, love, and others.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accidents Lawyer in Maryland
Based upon this summary of important FMCSA trucking regulations, you can see that pursuing a truck crash claim is a complicated endeavor. For this reason, you should trust an experienced attorney who has in-depth knowledge of the relevant rules and laws. To learn more about your rights and remedies as a victim, please contact the Baltimore office of Bob Katz Law. We can schedule a no-cost case evaluation to review your circumstances and determine the next steps in the legal process.