Commercial truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries and even death. Lawsuits stemming from these accidents involve unique legal issues and the confluence of federal law. These lawsuits are far more complex than the average car accident suit, and they can involve multiple parties who are potentially liable.
Federal and state law sets standards for safety within the trucking industry, making it necessary for an experienced attorney familiar with federal law to assist following any truck accident. The following is a look at federal law as it relates to 18 wheeler accidents.
The Trucking Industry Is Regulated by Federal and State Laws
Federal and state safety standards exist to regulate the interstate commercial trucking industry. These special laws are administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and various state departments of transportation. Federal and state laws control everything from maximum load weight and the number of hours a trucker must sleep to driver licensing and vehicle inspections.
It is imperative to inspect the truck driver and trucking company’s compliance with each of the regulations to determine the full scope of their potential liability. Current or past failures to comply can offer excellent ammunition in a personal injury or wrongful death case.
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Federal Law Has Eliminated the Defense of Independent Truckers
Historically, trucking companies would attempt to avoid liability in the event of an accident by forcing truck drivers to own their own trucks as independent owner-operators. Trucking companies were then able to argue that their liability did not extend to the accident because the driver and truck were independent.
However, the federal government has since banned this type of defense by mandating the liability of permitted trucking companies for all aspects of their commercial trucking operations, even when drivers own their own trucks or act as independent contractors.
Truck Accidents Require Thorough Investigations
Under federal and state law, a certified truck inspector will be called out to inspect any commercial truck involved in an accident before it has been removed from the scene. This inspection can offer vital evidence as to the cause of the accident, which can be determined by tire prints, skid marks, and the electronic data stored on the truck.
Trucks are equipped with a black box that records a multitude of information concerning the truck and the truck driver’s actions. Black box data will include the speed of the vehicle, its exact location, hard braking, turning, or the use of the emergency brake, and much more.
Other records that must be sought include the hours of service log, which will detail how many hours the truck driver was on the road, when he or she stopped, and how much sleep was observed. All of this evidence, when looked at as part of the full picture, should offer an accurate view as to the cause of the accident.
Zinda Law Group: Aggressively Fighting for the Recovery of Truck Accident Victims
The law surrounding serious truck accidents is complex and the facts of each accident are unique. While we offer a brief overview as to the impact of federal law on truck accidents, you will need a licensed attorney experienced in the field to provide you with more detailed and skilled representation.
The Texas Truck Accident Attorneys at Zinda Law Group have assisted countless truck accident victims across the state. We are highly knowledgeable of federal trucking laws and will pursue all avenues for your potential recovery. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free and confidential consultation, and let us start fighting for your recovery today!