Truck Accident Lawyers in Clearwater, Florida

Violations of Federal Trucking Regulations can Cause Serious Accidents

Driving a commercial truck can be an extremely dangerous activity. Semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles can weight 20-30 times as much as a smaller passenger vehicle and are capable of causing extremely serious injuries when they are involved in collisions. Recognizing the risk that large trucks driving from place to place in the United States each day can pose to the general public, the federal government has chosen to regulate nearly every aspect of the commercial trucking industry. Some of these regulations are directly tied to the safety of other motorists, and when they are ignored, serious accidents can occur as a result, three of which are detailed below. For more information and to find out whether you have a claim, call the Dolman Law Group today.

Hours-of-Service Regulations

Hours-of-service regulate the number of hours that a commercial truck driver is allowed to drive in a given period. For example, commercial drivers who are carrying property are only allowed to drive for 11 hours each day after having 10 -consecutive hours off duty. These regulations are intended to reduce the incidence of fatigued driving,1 but are unfortunately not always followed. Some of the issues that drowsy drivers can experience include the following:

  • Delayed reaction time
  • Impaired judgment
  • Poor concentration

Fortunately, truck drivers are required to keep log books. If these books are accurate, it can make it easy to establish that a truck driver was not in compliance with the hours-of-service regulations at the time of an accident. Even if they are not, there are ways that a skilled attorney can uncover circumstantial evidence of hours-of-service violations, so if you believe that your accident was the result of driver fatigue, you should contact an attorney as soon as you can.

Pre-Trip Inspections

Commercial truck drivers are required to conduct a pre-trip inspection of their vehicle before they begin to drive. This inspection is intended to uncover any safety issues that may exist with the truck. The kinds of things that need to be inspected include brakes, wheels, tires, lights, the coupling device, fluid levels, reflectors, the horn, the wipers and washers, and the heater and defroster. If any of these systems are not operating properly, it could lead to a serious accident. As a result, drivers who fail to conduct a pre=trip inspection as required by federal regulations could potentially be held liable for an accident.

Conspicuity Requirements

Commercial vehicles are required to comply with certain regulations regarding the placement of reflective material or lights on a truck trailer. The reason for this is that truck trailers without lights can be difficult for other motorists to see, particularly on rural highways or interstates that are not well-lit or in bad weather conditions. If you are involved in an accident with a truck and had difficulty seeing the trailer it was towing, you should certainly bring this fact up to your attorney. It is possible that the vehicle was not in compliance with the federal conspicuity requirements, which may be a basis for establishing liability on the part of the truck’s owner or the company responsible for its operation.

FMCSR Violations and Negligence Per Se

Many of the federal regulations that apply to commercial trucks are found in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations,2 or the FMSCR. The regulations are promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and have the force of law. Under a legal doctrine known as “negligence per se,” violations of these regulations may have the effect of establishing truck driver or trucking company negligence as a matter of law. What this means in plain English is the fact that a party violated the law is enough for the court to find negligence, which is what a plaintiff needs to establish in order to recover after an accident. In other words, all the plaintiff will need to prove in order to recover compensation is that the violation occurred, and nothing else. In order to establish negligence per se, it must be shown that:

  • The defendant violated a law that creates a duty or prohibits an act for the benefit of the public
  • The plaintiff was part of the class of persons that was supposed to benefit from the law
  • The violation caused the accident

Call a Florida Truck Accident Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case

If you have been injured in a truck accident and believe that a violation of federal trucking regulations was the cause of your wreck, you should speak with an attorney as soon as you can. To learn more about how one of our skilled truck accident lawyers can help you, call the Dolman Law Group today at 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765