Understanding Truck Accident Laws When You’ve Been In An Accident

Commercial vehicle accidents often cause more severe damage and injuries than crashes involving smaller vehicles. Because of this, there are special laws governing big rigs, tractor-trailers, and other commercial vehicles. Not only do truck drivers require a class A or B license, they are also required to adhere to rigorous safety and maintenance standards. When drivers fail to follow the law, the results can be fatal. The big rig and tractor-trailer accident lawyers at David & Philpot, PL in central Florida are committed to fighting trucking company negligence, and want you to stay informed of the laws affecting both Florida and the rest of the United States.

Below you will find a number of resources relating to truck accident laws. If you haven’t done so already, check out our article on tips for safely sharing the road with Semi-trucks. Our goal is to answer the important questions or concerns you have if you’ve been involved in an accident involving a big rig truck. If you don’t fine the answers to your questions below feel free to reach out to us, we are here to help. You can fill out the form on the right side of the page or contact us directly at 800.360.7015.

Truck Accident Laws and Trucking Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations cover all traffic that moves between states (interstate traffic). Sometimes a big rig or tractor-trailer accident will occur while a vehicle is delivering within a single state (intrastate traffic).
For a full list of federal laws governing commercial vehicles, consult the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website’s section on rules and regulations.
The Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) has adopted Title 49, Parts 382-384 and 390-399 of the federal regulations. For complete Florida state laws, see the Florida DOT’s Office of Motor Carrier Compliance. 
Following are a few of the pertinent areas that federal and state laws govern in respect to commercial vehicles. For additional links, consult our accident resources page.

Driver Negligence

Under federal and state truck accident laws, victims of a big rig or tractor-trailer accident may be eligible for compensation if the big rig driver was speeding, made an unsafe wide turn, failed to check the truck’s blind spot, or was making rapid lane changes. A commercial vehicle generally needs 40 percent more stopping room than a passenger vehicle, and if this requirement is ignored, a serious collision can occur. It is the responsibility of the driver and the company that trained him or her to make sure these rules are heeded.

Trucking Company Negligence

Commercial drivers are required to have special education and training in order to minimize the risk of a big rig or tractor-trailer accident. They must attend truck-driving school, complete apprentice training, and keep themselves updated regularly on traffic regulations. The companies that hire truck drivers are responsible for ensuring that their employees have the proper training and licensing. If an accident involves an instance of trucking company negligence, the company can be held liable for any injuries or property damage incurred as a result.

Insurance Requirements

Under federal law, all commercial vehicles traveling on the interstate system must carry at least $750,000 worth of insurance. However, insurance companies are often reluctant to pay the full sum of the victim’s damages, which is why it is important to have experienced truck accident attorneys such as the ones at the law firm of David & Philpot, PL on your side.

Driver’s Logs

Commercial drivers are required to keep a driver’s log, which contains pertinent information about the driver’s duty status, the number of hours he or she is on the road or carrying out work-related activities, the total mileage for each 24-hour driving period, and other information. This record can provide valuable evidence in the event of a collision with a passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, driver’s logs are sometimes lost or destroyed following a serious collision. If a driver has failed to keep a log or has lost or falsified information therein, both the driver and the trucking company can be held legally responsible. This kind of trucking company negligence can be aptly identified by our team of qualified big rig and tractor-trailer lawyers in central Florida.

Hours Of Service

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) section 395 strictly dictates the hours that a truck driver may drive or be in service. Truck drivers are required to set aside 10 hours of rest for every 24 hours, making the total time that a driver can be on-duty 14 hours. Truck drivers are required to stop driving if they have been on-duty for 60 hours in any consecutive seven-day period or 70 hours in any consecutive eight-day period. Because a driver’s pay usually depends on the total miles he or she completes, many drivers ignore these regulations, contributing to sleep deprivation and truck driver distractions such as fatigue.
 If you suspect that trucking company or driver negligence played a part in your collision, our truck accident attorneys can investigate the situation and determine whether the other party has violated any federal or state regulations.

Alcohol And Drug Use

Drunk driving laws are some of the most stringent laws in existence, and for good reason. These laws govern both commercial and passenger vehicle drivers, and are aimed to limit the many drunk driving-related truck and auto accidents that occur each year. Trucking companies are required to regularly test their employees for drug and alcohol use, and fortunately, the number of commercial collisions caused by substance abuse is small. This makes the cases that do occur all the more serious, and negligent drivers must be charged and their victims fully compensated. If you believe you were involved in a collision that resulted from alcohol or drug use, contact our truck accident attorneys for an evaluation of your case. Click on the following link for additional resources on what to do if you’ve been hit by a drunk driver.

How David & Philpot, P.L. Can Help

When you are a victim of a commercial vehicle collision caused by truck driver or trucking company negligence, it can be a frightening and overwhelming experience. You may feel uninformed about the specifics of commercial vehicle law, or too intimidated by the trucking company involved to fight back. Our truck accident attorneys in central Florida seek to change that by equipping you with an arsenal of knowledge. By combining our expertise with client education, we can form a strong and successful coalition. Contact David & Philpot, PL today for a free case evaluation.

Understanding Truck Accident Laws When You’ve Been In An Accident – By Tim David