Commercial Vehicle & Trucking Accident

Commercial vehicles, such as tractor-trailers and semi-trucks, pose serious and unique dangers on the road. These vehicles can greatly outweigh passenger cars, be difficult to steer, stop, and operate, and often carry hazardous materials. Drivers hired to operate commercial vehicles must understand and appreciate these dangers and exercise the utmost care when operating commercial vehicles on our roads.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 276,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes in the United States during 2010, resulting in 3,675 fatalities and 80,000 injuries. Of these deaths, 76 percent were occupants of other vehicles and 10 percent were non-occupants. Of those injured, 73 percent were occupants of other vehicles.

Between 2009 and 2010, fatalities in crashes involving large trucks increased 9% and injuries increased 8%. The number of registered large trucks in the U.S. increased over 37% during that same time.

“Large trucks were more likely to be involved in a fatal multiple-vehicle crash as opposed to a fatal single-vehicle crash than were passenger vehicles (82% of fatal crashes involving large trucks are multiple-vehicle crashes, compared with 58% for fatal crashes involving passenger vehicles).” – NHTSA

Commercial vehicle and trucking accidents can be caused by:

  • Driver Fatigue
  • Aggressive and Careless Driving
  • Falling Cargo
  • Poorly Maintained Equipment
  • Speeding
  • Improper Use of Mobile Devices
  • Inadequate Training
  • Improper Weight and Load Distributions
  • Poor Visibility
  • Inattentiveness
  • Following Too Closely
  • Driver Distraction

These are serious cases and deserve attention and diligence in prosecuting. An inadequate or untimely investigation can compromise any chance of achieving justice for those hurt and injured.

Accidents involving tractor trailers, cranes, large trucks or other commercial vehicles are very different than those involving standard automobiles and lawyers handling these claims must have specific knowledge of the Federal and State laws governing the proper and safe operation of commercial vehicles. There are numerous federal and state laws that govern the regulation and operation of commercial vehicles. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) is a comprehensive set of laws which were enacted in order to ensure drivers of commercial vehicles follow specific rules to keep our roads safe.

Who must comply with commercial trucking regulations?

All non-exempt commercial motor vehicles that cross state lines, including big-rig trucks, are subject to the federal motor carrier safety regulations. If these semi-trucks are operating within one state, they need to abide by state-equivalent motor carrier safety regulations. The intent of the regulations is to cover all persons and entities involved in operating commercial vehicles, including:

  • Drivers
  • Hiring managers
  • Trainers
  • Supervisors
  • Managers
  • Dispatchers

Additional truck/commercial vehicle regulations covered by the FMCSA

As well as identifying all types of drivers, companies and vehicles required to comply with the FMCSA, the Act also reguates:

  • CDL requirements
  • Driver qualification and testing
  • Operating or Driving a commercial truck or large vehicle
  • Proper equipment and Parts for safe operation
  • Logging hours of driving or operation
  • Routine inspection and maintenance requirements
  • Drug testing and screening
  • Insurance requirements
  • Maintaining and proper record keeping

Within each of these regulations, there are specific duties and requirements imposed on drivers, owners and operators of trucks and commercial vehicles.

Understanding the rules and regulations of the FMCSA is necessary when representing an individual injured in an accident caused by a truck or commercial vehicle. Over the years, trucking companies have developed standards and industry practices common to all trucking companies. It is important to understand not only the rules and regulations, but also how the industry has changed and implemented management and operational practices to comply with the rules and regulations of the FMCSRs.

It is important to speak to an attorney who is familiar with trucking and commercial vehicle laws

If you or a loved one was injured in a commercial vehicle accident, contact Viñas & DeLuca for a free and confidential consultation by calling (305) 372-3650. Or, you can complete our Free Case Evaluation Form and we will contact you.