Just as drivers of passenger vehicles must follow federal traffic guidelines, there are federal trucking regulations which truck drivers must follow. Violation of these laws could result in severe penalties, as well as put other motorists at risk of a collision.
Accordingly, it is important to work with a seasoned lawyer who is familiar with the federal trucking laws and industry regulations in Johnstown. A well-practiced truck wreck attorney could investigate whether a violation of industry standards contributed to the collision.
While originally the trucking industry was regulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission, starting back in the 1930s, the current regulations are issued through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations apply to any vehicles that exceed 10,000 pounds in weight.
There may also be regulations that apply from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which pertain to workplace regulations in any industry. In addition, the Department of Transportation has regulations that apply to any public roads and therefore would also apply to semi-trucks and their drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration performs studies on safety, efficiency, weight, and hazards to come up with limits on the optimal speed, weight, and size of commercial vehicles. The FMCSA also creates regulations that are designed to enable trucks to haul their loads while remaining safe for the general public.
They also place limitations on driving time and require truck drives to practice mandatory rest periods. Under the Hours of Service (HOS) rules created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a local truck driver has to take a 30-minute break every eight hours. In addition, a truck driver can operate a semi-truck for no more than 11 hours in a 24-hour period, after which he or she then has to be off duty for 10 hours before resuming driving. These breaks must be logged carefully.
Johnstown trucking companies are expected to follow these federal laws and are required to keep logs showing that they have complied with these rules. Violation of any of these industry regulations could result in serious penalties.
In the event of an accident, the truck driver could be found solely liable, or the company he or she is employed by could also be liable under a theory of vicarious liability. Under this theory, an employer is liable for the negligent acts of an employee provided that the employee was within the course and scope of the employment at the time of the wreck. For instance, if the employee failed to meet the federal weight or loading requirements for the truck, the vehicle could become more prone to rolling over or tipping, and the company could be held financial liable for the damage. There may also be liability on the part of the entity that loaded the truck improperly or unsafely.
Insurance policies for commercial vehicles, such as buses or trucks, have significantly higher liability limits than private passenger vehicles. A regular citizen driving his or her personal car is required to have liability coverage of only $15,000.00. Whereas a truck, on the other hand, will typically have coverage of upwards of $1 million that would apply to any claims.
The federal trucking laws and industry regulations can play a big role in Johnstown truck accidents. Therefore, it is highly important to work with an accomplished local attorney who could do a thorough investigation into whether the truck driver or trucking company violated these standards. If you were hurt in an 18-wheeler collision, reach out to Marcus & Mack today and schedule your initial consultation for free.