Federal Trucking Regulations: Proving Liability in a Truck Accident

September 27, 2016

A commercial truck driver must not only adhere to the average rules of the road but also a particular set of strict regulations. The Department of Transportation and its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) branch have created numerous trucking regulations that stand from coast-to-coast. All of these regulations have one purpose at their core: protecting motorists from dangerous tractor-trailer accidents. If any of these regulations are violated, intentionally or unintentionally, the full liability of any truck accidents could be placed on the trucker.

FMSCA Regulations You Should Know

If you are hurt by a commercial truck or tractor trailer, one of the first things you should consider is whether or not they were violating a federal trucking regulation. Being able to identify key issues right away, and relay them to your attorney, can strengthen your case from the beginning.

Five main regulations that could be pertinent to your case are:

  1. Hours of operation: Most truck drivers are not permitted to drive more than 11 hours a day, so long as they also take 3 hours of non-driving time within that same shift. Break periods of 34 hours are also required between work weeks, and 10 hours between shifts. Violating these regulations will likely cause extreme trucker fatigue, which exponentially increases the chance of a collision.
  2. Maintenance: Each trucking company will have a unique set of maintenance rules based on the size of its fleet, its regular cargo, and its shipping radius. Trucks that do not undergo scheduled maintenance may experience sudden mechanical failures while on the highway, causing a loss of control of the massive vehicle.
  3. Weight: Commercial trucks can only weigh up to 80,000 pounds – including the weight of the truck itself and its cargo. Overloading a truck makes it more difficult to steer and incredibly difficult to stop. Rolling downhill with an overloaded tractor trailer can also cause the brake lines to snap.
  4. Speed: Speed limits for pedestrian vehicles on highways are typically 65 miles per hour. For a large 18-wheeler, the limit is typically restricted to 55 mph so there is less of a risk of a catastrophic crash, should the truck driver need to stop or make defensive maneuvers.
  5. Cargo: There are hundreds of pages in the FMCSA guidebook on how cargo must be loaded, secured, and shipped. Violating cargo regulations can cause trailers to tip over due to poor weight distribution, or cause pieces of freight to fall off onto the highway. If the truck is shipping hazardous materials, the danger is even more severe.

This is only a portion of the federal trucking regulations that could be important for your case. If you do not want to dig through the paperwork on your own, you can retain the legal services of Baldwin Matzus, LLC LLC. Philadelphia personal injury Attorney Jason Matzus has 20+ years of trial-tested experience and maintains a perfect 10.0 “Superb” Avvo rating for skills, results, ethics, and more qualifications. Come see what kind of difference our firm can make for your case by contacting us today.

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