If you know someone who works as a commercial trucker, then you may know a little bit about the federal regulations they must follow. A lot of professionals have certain rules they must follow. For example, our Carrollton truck accident attorneys must follow the rules of the American Bar Association and the local courts. They also have to follow certain rules of ethics.
The same is true for tractor-trailer drivers. They are required to follow certain rules implemented and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The rules are very detailed and very rigid.
If your Carrollton accident lawyer can demonstrate that the truck driver who hit you was in violation of these rules, it will help your case. It will help prove that the defendant was negligent. And, as long as your Carrollton truck accident attorney can do that, you should collect damages.
Here, we will explain where these regulations come from and what they consist of. We will also discuss how your Carrollton accident lawyer will use the defendant’s violations of the regulations to their advantage.
If you still have questions or concerns about your own tractor-trailer crash, contact our office directly. We offer all new clients a free, initial consultation. This gives you a chance to sit down with a seasoned Carrollton truck accident attorney and find out if your case is worth pursuing.
What Are the FMCSA Regulations?
Many professions, such as doctors and lawyers, have to abide by specific standards and rules set forth by industry regulators. Commercial drivers are no different. Whether a person carries cargo or passengers, they need to follow these rules exactly.
When they fail to do that, they can be fined, suspended, or even lose their commercial driver’s license. It all depends on which standard they violate and how serious their violation was.
For example, it is one thing if a trucker accidentally works two hours over the 11-hour per shift limit. They could get fined and may receive a verbal or written warning. However, if they get into an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the consequences will be much more severe.
The same principle applies to your truck accident case. If your Carrollton accident lawyer can prove that the defendant breached one of their professional duties as common carriers, it can be used against them in your civil case.
Tractor Trailer Drivers’ Hours of Operation Are Strictly Limited
One of the most common FMCSA violations our Carrollton truck accident attorneys see is trucker’s hours of operation violations. According to FMCSA 395.31, there are very specific rules about how many hours a truck driver can work without taking a break.
There are also rules in this section that spell out how many hours a driver must be off-duty before they start another shift.
Some of the more common rules about trucker’s hours of operation include the following:
- All drivers must have at least 10 hours of off-duty time between any two shifts
- No driver is allowed to work more than 11 consecutive hours
- All commercial truckers are required to take at least one 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving
- No driver can work more than 60 hours in a given 7-day period or more than 70 hours in an 8-day cycle
Of course, these are not all the rules. They are just some of the ones that we have seen in cases we have handled. If we can prove that the defendant in your case had worked 16-17 hours straight without a break, we can prove negligence.
The reason the FMCSA set the limit to 11 hours is that there have been studies that show a driver’s reflexes and response times slow down after that length of time. They are also overtired by that point and pose a safety threat to other motorists.
Truckers Must Keep Written Logs of Truck Maintenance, Repairs, and Inspections
All truck drivers are also required, under the FMCSA, to maintain written logs on the maintenance of their trucks. They need to track the dates that their truck was serviced or repaired.
They also have to keep a log of any issues they have experienced with their truck. They are required to keep these records with them on a thirty-day rolling basis. They are expected to maintain and keep these records somewhere for at least one year. Once they give the truck up or leave their job, they must ensure that these logs will be available for at least six additional months.
Your Carrollton Accident Lawyer Can Demonstrate That the Driver Was Drunk or High at the Time of the Crash
One of the most critical FMCSA regulations has to do with impaired driving. No truck driver is allowed to get behind the wheel after they have been drinking alcohol. The same thing is true for drugs. If a commercial truck driver is caught doing either of these things, not only can they be held liable, but they will also face serious civil and criminal penalties.
When it comes to proving that the trucker was drunk or high at the time of your crash, it’s no different from other cases. Your Carrollton accident lawyer will have to demonstrate that they were intoxicated or impaired.
Usually, the best way to do this is by submitting a copy of the police report. When the police arrive at the scene, they are going to check to see if either driver appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If they suspect that either driver is drunk or high, they will subject them to either a breathalyzer test or urine test. If these tests come back positive, they will serve as concrete and impartial evidence in your lawsuit.
Your Carrollton Truck Accident Attorney Will Use Whatever Evidence to Get the Compensation You Deserve
As you should imagine, there is no way we can discuss all the FMCSA regulations here. However, you should get the point here that there is a myriad of ways in which your Georgia accident lawyer can use the regulations to help your case. If you believe you have a valid claim for damages, give us a call so we can schedule your free, initial consultation.