Compared to a regular vehicle for personal use, commercial trucks are greater in size and weight, so any accident involving it will result in long-term damages and injuries that are catastrophic. If you or a family member has been involved in a truck collision and got injured, there are plenty of things you need to learn about laws regulating trucks and the accidents involving it.
State and federal laws regulate the trucking industry and establish a set of standards that all trucking companies and their drivers must adhere to. These laws can help you determine the people who should be responsible for any accident involving a commercial truck.
The federal agencies that primarily manage this area are the following:
- The U.S. Department of Transportation or DOT
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA
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You will mostly find the federal trucking laws in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations where every state monitors intra-state commercial trucking by its own department of transportation. If the collision you are involved in is related to big rigs, semi-trucks, and other commercial truck drivers that do not adhere to the laws that apply to their job, the driver and the trucking company could be held liable for your injuries. There are many laws that trucks need to follow which include:
- Commercial driver licenses – Commercial truck drivers are required to follow the case law and statues of the state on licensing of commercial drivers. If a driver without the proper license is involved in an accident with you, it will have an impact on your case toward the driver and the trucking company.
- Driver’s rest – Also known as hours of service. The law also regulates the number of hours a truck driver is allowed to drive without resting or taking a break.
- Maximum weight allowed – The truck’s size will determine the amount of cargo it can carry. For instance, a truck with a single axle is permitted to carry up to 20,000 lbs., while a truck with two axles or a tandem can carry a load of up to 34,000 lbs. It is dangerous for a truck to overload. Hence, it will be a vital part of your accident’s investigation to know what the truck is carrying during your accident, as well as the last time it was weighed in.
- Truck quality control – Quality control is also ensured by regulating not just the manufacturing, but the repairs of commercial vehicles. For example, under product liability legal theory, you may be entitled to a claim from the truck’s supplier, repairer, or manufacturer, if the accident was caused by a defect or failure of any of its components.
- Hazardous waste – Safety regulations for transporting hazardous materials were developed by the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety or OHMS. If by any chance a truck driver failed to heed by those guidelines and you sustain an injury because of it, you consult with a lawyer to know how you may pursue a claim against the company of the hazardous waste shipment, the trucker, and his trucking company.