State Trucking Regulations
Both federal and New York State regulations govern the behavior of commercial truck drivers and trucking companies. An intrastate truck driver's failure to follow federal or state regulations may constitute negligence. If you suspect that you were injured or a loved one was killed due to a violation of a state trucking regulation, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our Syracuse truck accident attorneys may be able to help you.The Impact of State Trucking Regulations
Due to their enormous size and weight, the injuries arising out of a truck accident are often fatal or catastrophic. Accordingly, both federal and state lawmakers have adopted numerous regulations by which truck drivers and trucking companies must abide. Generally, New York has adopted the federal regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These exist in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR), Parts 390, 391, 392, 393, 395, 396, and 397, as well as certain portions of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Regulations that relate to interstate highway transportation. However, there are some exceptions as set forth in Title 17 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, Part 820.
Commercial motor vehicles governed by the state trucking regulations are any self-propelled or towed motor vehicles used on a highway in commerce to transport property or passengers when they have a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, or are designed or made to carry more than eight passengers for compensation, or are designed or employed to carry more than 15 passengers, or are employed to carry certain materials found by the Secretary of Transportation to be dangerous.
The state trucking regulations have adopted the portions of the federal regulations related to the necessity of a truck driver's commercial driver's license, drug and alcohol testing, driver qualifications for certain commercial drivers, and more. Generally, you should retain an injury attorney who is familiar with both state and federal trucking regulations and the differences between them, since in most cases, it will not be immediately clear whether a truck driver and trucking company involved in an accident were operating in an interstate or intrastate capacity.
To establish the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company, your lawyer will need to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant owed you a duty of care, the defendant breached this duty, and the breach caused your harm. In most cases, a jury will find that a violation of a state trucking regulation is a breach of duty for an intrastate truck driver or an intrastate trucking company that employs them.
Often, trucking companies can also be held accountable under a theory of direct liability, such as negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or negligent training. Companies must follow numerous state and federal regulations. For example, if an intrastate trucking company does not follow the state drug and alcohol testing requirements, and a truck driver gets into a drunk driving accident that causes injuries or fatalities, the trucking company may be directly liable. For another example, companies are supposed to maintain records on driver qualifications and performance, including substance abuse test results and traffic citations, and they are supposed to review these on a yearly basis. Failing to follow these state trucking regulations can create dangers on the highway and expose a business to liability.
Trucking companies may also be held indirectly liable under a theory of vicarious liability or respondeat superior if a driver is negligent in the course and scope of employment, and this results in injuries. Sometimes companies try to dodge vicarious liability by labeling workers as independent contractors. However, it is important to retain an attorney who can look closely at the situation and determine a strategic approach if that is the case. It might be appropriate to challenge the label, or it might be appropriate to look at other ways in which the company has tried to dodge state regulations to see if there is a basis for direct liability there.Hire a Skillful Truck Accident Lawyer in the Syracuse Area
If you have been harmed due to a violation of state trucking regulations, our law firm may be able to help you recover damages from responsible parties. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents truck accident victims in 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 to discuss the cause of your truck accident.