Federal Trucking Regulations

Tractor-Trailer Crash Lawyers Serving Syracuse and Rochester

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has promulgated federal regulations that govern commercial vehicles in interstate commerce. These federal trucking regulations apply to how the drivers of most big-rigs, semis, and tractor-trailers behave on the road and off. Among other things, they regulate driving procedures, drug and alcohol testing, hours of service, records, and maintenance. If you were injured in a truck accident, you should retain an experienced Syracuse truck accident attorney who understands the federal trucking regulations and how to prove violations of them in complex truck accident cases.

Violations of Federal Trucking Regulations

Interstate truck drivers must follow the FMCSA regulations. Among other things, they need to follow hours of service rules, avoid drinking and driving, avoid drugs, maintain their commercial license, and maintain their vehicle.

Different hours of service rules apply when a commercial vehicle is carrying passengers versus property. For example, property-carrying truck drivers can drive at most 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty, whereas passenger-carrying truck drivers may drive at most 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty. Truck drivers carrying property can only drive if eight or fewer hours have passed since the end of the driver's last off-duty period (rest break) of at least 30 minutes. This does not apply to drivers who are using either of the short-haul exceptions. Additionally, interstate truck drivers are supposed to accurately state their hours in a logbook.

If an interstate truck driver does not follow these regulations, and their fatigue causes an accident, this is a strong indication of negligence. To prove a truck driver's negligence, your lawyer will need to show that a duty was owed, the truck driver breached this duty, causation, and actual damages. A jury would likely find that an interstate truck driver had breached his duty of reasonable care to others on the road if he violated the hours of service rules and falsified his log book to meet tight delivery deadlines, but then he was not able to handle a jackknifing situation appropriately, such that multiple people were injured or killed. Similarly, a jury would likely find a breach of duty if the truck driver failed to maintain the truck according to the FMCSA regulations and as a result was not able to brake in time to avoid a collision.

Trucking companies engaged in interstate commerce must also follow the FMCSA regulations. Among other things, they are supposed to conduct background checks of job applicants and conduct drug and alcohol testing. The FMCSA rules regarding drug tests require them before hiring a driver, when there is a reasonable suspicion, on a random basis, and just after a truck accident. The tests are able to determine whether a truck driver was on alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, or PCP. They are also supposed to check logbooks for accuracy and to make sure that the truck driver is keeping the logbook accurately. A trucking company that fails to follow the federal trucking regulations may be held directly liable under a theory of negligent hiring, negligent training, or negligent supervision.

If you are able to establish liability for a truck accident, you will be able to recover compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are meant to make up for economic and noneconomic losses that flow from the accident. Our attorneys will need to submit evidence on such matters as the nature of the injuries and how they are likely to affect you into the future, the changes to your daily life, and the impact on your ability to do the same job or any job. Damages that may be recovered include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, property damage, replacement services, and pain and suffering. Other damages may be recovered if a violation of federal trucking regulations caused a loved one’s death.

Seek Assistance from a Trucking Injury Lawyer in the Syracuse Area

If you are harmed due to violations of federal trucking regulations, our law firm may be able to help you recover damages. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents people injured in truck accidents in the areas around Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton, Auburn, Elmira, Norwich, Cortland, Delhi, Herkimer, Watertown, Lowville, Oneida, Wampsville, Utica, Canandaigua, Oswego, Cooperstown, Ithaca, and Lyons. Call us at 315-479-9000 or contact us via our online form.

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