Truck drivers are required to carry a special commercial driver’s license and comply with safety-focused federal regulations to keep them and others safe on the roads. These regulations govern everything, from vehicle safety requirements to mandates regarding driver behavior.
Truck Accidents Risks
Any time an 18-wheeler has an accident, the impact on a passenger motor vehicle is extreme and those in the car can be seriously hurt or killed. It’s a matter of size and mass.
Because of the significance of the risk of harm, regulations have been put in place to manage drivers with commercial licenses.
Commercial vehicle drivers are required to:
- Earn a specialized driving license, be at least 18 or 21 years old (depending on whether driving is interstate or intrastate), and speak at least conversational English.
- Maintain and regularly inspect the vehicles they drive for safety-related issues.
- Keep current insurance on their vehicles in specified amounts.
- Follow all traffic laws, including restrictions on driving while impaired and/or distracted.
- Maintain a “driving log” to show the number of hours they have spent behind the wheel and any breaks taken.
- Engage in safe driving practices.
Liability in Truck Accidents
A truck driver causes an accident. Perhaps he didn’t leave enough room to stop, or misjudged a turn, or was traveling too quickly and an accident resulted. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the truck driver failed to properly log his driving hours or comply with the restrictions on the number of “hours in service” he was allowed to drive, what happens then? Or, what if the truck driver was distracted?
Liability in these cases clearly starts with the responsible driver—that is, the truck driver. Especially if the actions he undertook violate state or federal regulations; that will serve as evidence of his negligence. But in certain circumstances, liability may be shared with the trucking company that hired the driver, or with the company that maintains the vehicles. Understanding the reason behind the accident, the practices of the companies involved, and all the intricacies of trucking regulations requires experience.
Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP has more than 25 years of experience. We offer a free case evaluation to help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities if you or someone you care about was hurt in a trucking accident. Call us at (800) 738-4046.