Over two million trucks are on the road focusing on meeting deadlines with the goods they are hauling. However, sometimes the truck drivers or their trucking companies get careless or negligent, putting the lives of others in serious danger. Truck accidents, or semi accidents, are a part of 500,000 accidents each year causing over 5,000 fatalities and over 140,000 serious injuries. Common injuries include head and brain injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal cord injuries, whiplash, broken bones, loss of limbs, and wrongful death.
Who May Be at Fault?
Many of truck wrecks occur as a result of jackknifing, truck rollovers, driving at high speeds, driver inexperience, driver fatigue, decreased visibility or difficulty in seeing blind spots, mechanical failures, improperly loading a semi, or overloading the 18-wheeler. The truth is that truckers are highly regulated and the overworking of truck drivers is a real problem. When this is an issue, the trucking company can be the main party at fault. So the at-fault party might be the driver, the company they work for, or potentially another factor such as an auto defect with the truck itself.
Federal Laws Regulating Truck Driving
In addition to the laws of each state, a truck must always follow federal laws. The agency that is responsible for these regulations is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Hours of Service Rules
- Violation of Compliance, Safety, Accountability Points (CSA Point)
- Generally, a worker can drive up to 11 hours and be on-duty for 14 hours. After this, they must rest for 10 hours off-duty.
- There are exceptions, but drivers are not supposed to drive unless at least 8 hours has passed since their last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30-minutes.
- Drivers must not drive if they have been on-duty for 7-8 consecutive days, driving 60-70 hours, and they may not drive this much again until after they rest at least 34 hours.
- Drivers are required to use the sleeper berth to rest for at least 8 consecutive hours as well as 2 additional hours to rest more or spend time off-duty.
- Drivers may not drive with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.02 AND they cannot use alcohol or drugs of any kind within 8 hours of driving.
What Are Truck Drivers Responsible For?
- Getting pre-and post-trip inspections are important, but FMCSA does not require them to be submitted when there were no defects found.
- If they drive interstate, then they must get a USDOT number.
- If truckers are hauling hazardous material, they must have passed additional tests before operating the truck and they must have appropriate placarding.
- They must pass a physical exam every 2 years.
- They must maintain log books regarding their work time.
- Interstate drivers must have a Motor Carrier Number from the FMCSA, Unified Carrier Registration (UCR), USDOT number.
How Do Trucking Accidents Differ from Auto Accidents?
Truck crashes are much more complex than most car wrecks; these complexities often require experts to reenact and reconstruct the accident itself as well as the scene. Based on this expert testimony, liability and responsibility can often be determined, and judgment can then be ruled according to state and federal laws.
- When should I hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
You should reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible as with any personal injury issue.
- What if I can’t afford to hire an attorney for my case?
Most personal injury attorneys will handle your case, if accepted, at no charge to you. They will take on the expenses and are compensated if and when you win your case.
- Do I need an attorney near me?
When it comes to truck accidents, the answer is no. You are almost always better off with an experienced track accident lawyer that is experienced in cases like yours. They have the resources and knowledge of how to proceed with your case, and they can be located anywhere in the U.S. If a local lawyer is needed, your main counsel will bring one onto the team.