As a truck accident lawyer, I’ve represented countless individuals in truck accident cases, and have witnessed firsthand the devastating aftermath and tragic injuries resulting from crashes.
Interstate truck crashes in particular have long been problematic. Those in passenger vehicles are at the mercy of truck drivers because of the substantial size and weight differences between “big rigs” and cars. Because of this difference, it is usually those in the passenger vehicles that end up with catastrophic injuries and loss of life.
As a result, the United States Congress many years ago enacted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) to try to make interstate diving safer, especially for those in passenger vehicles. These regulations are more than just guidelines; they are the backbone of safety in the trucking industry. In this article, I provide an in-depth look into the FMCSR’s role and its profound implications for victims of trucking accidents.
In the interim, if you or a loved one was injured in a commercial truck accident, I invite you to call The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt today to schedule a free consultation. As an experienced truck crash attorney, I can listen to the facts of your case, explain your legal options, and tenaciously fight for justice and the maximum compensation to which you and your family are rightfully entitled.
What Are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and How Do the FMCSR Ensure Road Safety?
The primary objective of the FMCSR is to maintain a safe environment for both truck drivers and the general public. These regulations are meticulously crafted, drawing from expert insights and real-world scenarios to mitigate potential risks in the trucking industry.
When truck drivers and trucking companies choose to overlook or deliberately violate these standards, they do more than just break the law. They gamble with lives, often resulting in devastating accidents. As an attorney who has been at the forefront of many vehicle crashes, part of my job is to fully determine if any violation of the FMCSR occurred which may pinpoint liability, seeking to ensure my clients receive justice and full compensation for their injuries.
What Are Common FMCSR Violations?
FMCSR violations that frequently lead to truck accidents include:
- Substance Abuse. The FMCSR is unequivocal in banning the use of substances that can impair a driver’s abilities. Specific regulations prohibit the use of drugs like amphetamines, and there are strict guidelines around alcohol consumption before driving. These rules aren’t just about maintaining a professional standard; they’re about ensuring every driver is in the right state of mind, capable of making split-second decisions that can mean the difference between life and death.
- Vehicle Inspection Failures. Every vehicle has wear and tear, but when it comes to commercial trucks, the stakes are higher. A minor fault can lead to significant disasters, emphasizing the importance of regular inspections. The FMCSR mandates these inspections to ensure every truck on the road meets the safety standards.
- Hours of Service Regulations and Driver Fatigue. Historically, truck drivers were paid by the mile. As a result, the more miles in a day they drive, the more money they make.
When the FMCSR was originally adopted, a significant change was the requirement that drivers maintain detailed paper logbooks documenting driving matters such as where they drove every day, when loads were checked, and when rest breaks were taken. Although these driving log regulations significantly helped improve safety by limiting the amount of time that drivers could drive without prescribed rest (and also helped to reduce driver fatigue), drivers found ways to fabricate logbook entries so that they could illegally exceed the Hours of Service regulations and have a low risk of being caught.
Now, however, drivers must use an Electronic Logging Device (“ELD”). These devices electronically record all aspects of vehicle movement, making it extremely difficult (if not impossible) for drivers to alter log recordings. While ELDs can help reduce driver fatigue by limiting the number of hours that operators can drive, there is still not a way to completely eliminate driver fatigue or to ensure that drivers have gotten a full night’s sleep before hitting the road.
- Training and Licensing. Ensuring that every truck driver is adequately trained and licensed is paramount. The FMCSR has clear directives about the type of training a driver must undergo, ensuring they are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary for the job.
FMCSR Violations: A Strong Pillar in Building Your Case
Understanding the FMCSR’s depth can be a game-changer. These regulations can serve as a strong foundation for building a case, providing tangible evidence of negligence. When a company or driver violates the FMCSR, it is a clear indication of their disregard for safety, bolstering an injury claim.
As a truck crash lawyer with over two decades of experience, I have a deep understanding of federal trucking regulations. I can help uncover whether an FMCSR violation may have contributed to your accident and identify all potentially liable parties, helping to maximize the chances of securing full and fair compensation.
Are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Relevant to My Truck Accident Case?
The FMCSR pertains to “commercial motor vehicles.” Typically, this encompasses any motor vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds or those transporting hazardous materials. For the regulation to be applicable, the vehicle should be involved in “interstate commerce,” signifying trade or transportation spanning at least two states.
The FMCSR establishes baseline safety protocols for trucking firms and their “employees.” Here, the term ’employee’ can encompass full-time drivers of the company, independent contractors, and “on-demand” drivers hired for singular deliveries.
Should a driver act negligently, the liability may fall on their employer. Consequently, the trucking company may be accountable for any damages resulting from an accident caused by the driver.
What Types of Damages Are Available in Tennessee Truck Accident Matters?
In Tennessee, if an individual is injured in a commercial truck accident, he or she can pursue various types of damages to compensate for their losses. The damages available are broadly categorized into compensatory and punitive damages:
- Compensatory Damages. These are designed to compensate the victim for losses suffered due to the accident. Compensatory damages can be further divided into:
- Economic Damages. These are tangible costs associated with the accident and include:
- Medical Expenses. Costs for hospital stays, surgeries, doctor’s visits, medications, rehabilitation, and any future medical expenses related to the accident.
- Lost Wages. Compensation for wages lost while recovering and potential future earnings if the victim is unable to return to work or has a diminished earning capacity.
- Property Damage. Costs for repairing or replacing your vehicle and other personal property damaged in the accident.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses. In the unfortunate event of a wrongful death due to an accident.
- Non-Economic Damages. These are intangible costs that don’t have a direct monetary value but significantly impact a victim’s life:
- Pain and Suffering. Compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress experienced due to the accident.
- Loss of Consortium. Damages awarded for the loss of companionship, affection, or marital relations caused by the accident.
- Emotional Distress. Compensation for psychological impacts such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other emotional traumas stemming from the accident.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life. Damages for the diminished ability to enjoy life’s pleasures.
- Economic Damages. These are tangible costs associated with the accident and include:
- Punitive Damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim but to punish the at-fault party for particularly reckless or malicious behavior and deter similar conduct in the future. In Tennessee, punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were fraudulent, intentional, malicious, or reckless.
The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt Advantage: Why Retaining an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Matters
In the complex realm of commercial truck accident cases, securing one of the best commercial truck crash attorneys can be invaluable. Our firm brings to the table not just decades of legal expertise but a deep understanding of the FMCSR, ensuring every facet of a case is explored.
Our office represents injured victims on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that we are only entitled to a fee if compensation is secured. Our firm also advances all litigation expenses while a case is ongoing, so firm clients do not have to worry about coming out of pocket for upfront expenses.
Moreover, with our firm, you’re not just another case. We understand the profound impact such accidents can have on victims and their families. This empathy drives our commitment to ensuring that justice is served and that victims are compensated fairly.
Schedule A Free Consultation with Truck Crash Attorney Mark Hurt
Every moment counts after a trucking accident. Evidence needs to be gathered, witnesses interviewed, and the nuances of the FMCSR explored to build a compelling case.
We are here to represent you throughout this challenging journey. Reach out today for a comprehensive free consultation. Your rights deserve protection, and together, we can ensure they are upheld.