When Truckers Break the Law: What Are the Consequences?
Truck accidents can result in devastating outcomes because of their sheer size and weight compared to other vehicles. When they collide with smaller vehicles, the passengers almost always suffer fatal injuries. Statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicate that there were 4,311 fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2015.
Unfortunately, some of the injured victims may take months or years to recover, and some may never fully recuperate. These victims have an option to claim compensation by filing a lawsuit or an insurance claim. FMCSA can also impose civil penalties on the carrier or driver. Additionally, drivers may have to shut down to comply with their accumulated off-duty time. Read on to learn more.
Commercial Trucks Laws
Since truck-trailer accidents pose a great danger to victims, the federal government has developed various laws and regulations. The rules are meant to minimize risks associated with truck accidents. Some of the laws include the following.
Truck Drivers’ Hours of Service
Truckers who drive for long hours without resting or taking a break may easily cause accidents due to drowsiness, fatigue, or distractions. FMCSA recommends that a truck driver only drives for 11 hours after ten consecutive off-duty hours [source].
Mandatory Truck Inspection
The law requires trucking companies to submit their vehicles for inspection annually. Only qualified, trained, or certified inspectors have permission to inspect and maintain the commercial trucks. Further, all elements of the compulsory inspection list must pass the entire check-up process.
Restrictions on Cell Phones
A majority of states have placed various restrictions on the use of cell phones by drivers. Commercial truckers have to comply with additional rules by the FMCSA. According to the authority, commercial motor vehicle drivers should not use a handheld mobile phone device.
Consequences of Breaking Truckers Regulations
When a driver breaks the hours of service rules (HOS) rules, the authority can place them out of service until they spend ample time off-duty and be back in compliance. Depending on the seriousness of the accident, local law enforcement officials and the state can impose fines. Still, the carrier or driver’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores may be downgraded.
Civil penalties are also imposed, and they can range from $1,000 to $11,000 per breach. However, the fine amount is usually based on severity. Additionally, if a carrier willingly or knowingly allows HOS contravention, it can lead to federal criminal penalties, including fines or the carrier’s complete closure.
On the other hand, truckers caught texting or using handheld devices can face various sanctions. They can get disqualified from operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. Drivers also face disqualification for various contraventions and civil penalties that can go up to $2,750. Carriers should also prohibit their drivers from using mobile phones as they may also be liable for penalties of up to $11,000.
If a collision happens with a trucker, you can sue them for financial compensation. According to Rutherfordton personal injury lawyer, you might have a personal injury claim case if you were injured by a vehicle running into you, whether you were a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or on a bicycle. You will, however, have to prove that the driver wasn’t safely operating their vehicle. It might be a difficult task, but luckily your attorney can help you consolidate the necessary evidence needed to prove the trucker’s negligence.
A truck accident attorney can recover the driver’s HOS details and gather other records in weighing and toll stations. They can also look into fraudulent logbook entries and positive drug test results. A worldwide study showed that about 50% of drivers engaged in drunk driving while 30% were using amphetamines [source].
If you get injured in a tractor-trailer accident, you can seek help from a personal injury lawyer. They will help do a thorough investigation to collect evidence that backs up your claim while also pursuing the right compensation for your injuries. Note that these cases are a bit complex; thus, going it alone may be futile.