What Happens When a Trucking Company Violates FMCSA Rules?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, promulgates various rules that trucking companies and truck drivers must follow. Many FMCSA regulations address weight limits for large vehicles and the proper ways for loading and unloading cargo and securing it to the trailer. Others regulate truck driver conduct on the road or a company’s inspection and maintenance of a fleet.

FMCSA regulations exist to keep everyone safe when driving alongside large commercial vehicles. Semi-trucks and similar vehicles can cause devastating damage and injuries when they crash, so the government implements stricter rules for the trucking industry to follow. When drivers, trucking companies, or another similar party commits serious FMCSA violations, accidents and severe injuries to others may result.

If you suffered injuries in a truck accident that a negligent trucking company or truck driver caused, you need to retain a skilled truck accident lawyer in your area who can handle your personal injury claim or lawsuit. Truck accident claims are often much more complicated than car accident cases, so you want to hire a law firm with experience handling commercial vehicle crashes.

A skilled truck accident lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your truck accident and, if necessary, retain an experienced accident reconstructionist who can testify in your case. Your lawyer can also file a personal injury claim with the trucking company’s insurer and seek favorable settlement compensation on your behalf.

Finally, if the insurance company does not offer you the fair monetary damages you need, your attorney can file a truck accident lawsuit in the court system to seek favorable financial recovery for your injuries.

Unlike insurance companies that are never on your side, your truck accident attorney will be your advocate throughout all the legal proceedings in your case. Your lawyer can answer all your questions and handle every aspect of your personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Motor Carrier Violations That Lead to Accidents

Trucking companies and their employee truck drivers have a duty to follow all FMCSA regulations. Those regulations pertain to safe driving and the tasks that trucking companies and truck drivers must perform before heading out on a road trip.

What Happens When a Trucking Company Violates FMCSA Rules?

In short, FMCSA regulations pertain to:

  • Cargo and weight limits for large trucks and tractor-trailers
  • Overhead and undercarriage lighting for tractors and trailers
  • Checklists for pre-trip inspections that truck drivers must perform before they head out on a trip
  • Truck rear guards and other safety devices on large trucks
  • Methods for properly loading and unloading cargo from the trailer
  • Methods for properly securing loose cargo onto the trailer, ensuring that it does not fall into the road while the truck is in motion

When trucking companies and truck drivers fail to follow these regulations, the chances of causing a severe accident increase dramatically. For example, if the trucking company or truck driver does not follow the prescribed weight limits or loads cargo onto the truck improperly, the trunk may become top-heavy.

As a result, the truck’s center of gravity might become offset, causing the truck to roll over in the middle of the road when speeding down the hill or around a sharp curve.

Additionally, serious accidents may happen when trucking companies and truck drivers fail to properly load and secure cargo on the trailer. If the truck’s cargo comes loose while the vehicle is in motion, it might roll out into the middle of the road, causing a multi-vehicle pileup.

Loose cargo, such as logs, may also impale the front windshield of an oncoming vehicle, leading to permanent injuries and fatalities for the vehicle occupants.

If you suffered injuries in a recent truck accident that resulted from a trucking company’s or truck driver’s failure to follow FMCSA regulations, you have legal rights and options that you can consider.

Your attorney can file a personal injury claim against the trucking company’s insurer and negotiate a favorable settlement offer that fully and fairly compensates you for all your accident-related injuries.

Other Common Causes of Truck Collisions

In addition to not following FMCSA regulations, truck accidents may also happen when truck drivers operate their large vehicles irresponsibly. For example, when truck drivers fail to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles, fail to use their turn signals, fail to use their mirrors, or speed excessively, they significantly increase their chances of causing a crash.

Speeding is especially dangerous if the trucking company or truck driver does not load cargo onto the truck properly.

Serious accidents may also happen when someone drives a truck while distracted. Distracted driving may take several forms, but it almost always involves a driver’s failing to observe the road. Instead of paying attention to the road, a truck driver might be looking at their cell phone, programming a GPS navigation system, or paying attention to passengers in the cab of the truck. All these activities may divert a driver’s attention away from the road, preventing them from driving carefully and safely.

A truck accident may also occur when a truck driver becomes fatigued while behind the wheel. Drowsy driving often occurs when drivers are on the road for long hours without taking frequent breaks to rest or sleep.

Trucking companies frequently incentivize drivers to drive for long hours to reap financial benefits. However, when a driver becomes fatigued, they may lose their ability to concentrate on the road attentively or fall entirely asleep at the wheel, losing control over their vehicle.

Finally, trucking accidents may happen if truck drivers consume alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances. Alcohol intoxication is especially problematic for truck drivers operating high-speed, large, and heavy vehicles. When a driver is under the influence of alcohol, they might lose their ability to concentrate and experience dizziness, blurred vision, and delayed reaction time. As a result, they may be unable to stop their vehicle in time to avoid a severe crash.

Legally Proving That a Trucking Company or Truck Driver Was Negligent

To legally establish that a trucking company or truck driver was negligent under the circumstances, the truck accident victim must satisfy their legal burden of proof.

In the case of a trucking company, they must establish that the company violated one or more FMCSA regulations, such as by failing to insist that their drivers perform pre-trip inspections or failing to ensure that employees loaded cargo onto the truck and secured it properly.

Next, the accident victim must establish that the truck accident happened as a direct result of the trucking company or truck driver’s negligent actions or inactions. Finally, the accident victim needs to show that as a direct result of the truck accident, they suffered one or more physical injuries and damages.

Experts can be beneficial when it comes time to prove the legal elements of a truck accident claim or lawsuit. For example, an accident reconstructionist can establish that the trucking company was fully or partially to blame for the accident. On the other hand, a medical expert can causally relate one or more physical injuries that the accident victim suffered to the truck accident.

Injuries in Truck Accidents

When a sizable big rig or tractor-trailer strikes a smaller passenger vehicle, it is almost always the driver or passengers riding in the passenger vehicle who suffer the most severe injuries.

Truck accidents often occur at high speeds and with a significant amount of force, causing the victim’s body to move about the inside of their vehicle, potentially striking various parts of the car like the headrest or steering wheel.

The various physical injuries that a truck accident victim suffers will depend upon the speeds of the vehicles, the force of the collision, the directions of the vehicles, and other accident-related factors.

Some of the most common injuries that result from truck accidents due to trucking company and truck driver negligence include internal bleeding, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injuries, mouth and jaw injuries, eye injuries, open lacerations, bruises, soft tissue neck and back contusions, rib fractures, bone fractures, complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries, paralysis injuries, and death.

Following your truck accident, it is crucial that you follow through with your medical treatment regimen, that you attend all your medical appointments on time, and that you do not discharge yourself early from medical care.

By continuously treating your injuries and completing your treatment regimen, you show the insurance company that your injuries are severe and that you took your medical treatment seriously. After you complete your medical treatment, your lawyer can begin advocating for the fair settlement compensation you deserve to recover in your legal matter.

Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company

If you suffered injuries in a trucking accident that resulted from a trucking company or truck driver’s negligence, your attorney can file a legal claim and pursue the monetary recovery you deserve.

To submit a claim, your lawyer will assemble a settlement demand package for the insurance company adjuster to review. This demand package will include a demand letter for monetary settlement with essential documents, such as expert reports, medical treatment records, medical bills, photographs of property damage, and injury photographs.

If the trucking company’s insurer accepts fault for your accident, then settlement negotiations for monetary compensation may begin. Throughout this process, your attorney typically makes an opening settlement demand to which the insurance company will respond. Negotiations then proceed back and forth until the parties either settle the case or reach a roadblock.

In settlement negotiations, you should know that insurance companies are not on your side. Despite what they allege in their advertisements, insurance companies are not interested in helping accident victims or offering them favorable monetary damages for their injuries and losses.

Instead, insurance companies are interested only in their bottom line and want to try to save themselves as much money as possible. They attempt to achieve this goal by paying as little compensation as possible to injured accident victims.

Your attorney will aggressively advocate for you during all settlement negotiations with insurance company representatives. Moreover, if the insurance company does not increase its offer significantly after several rounds of negotiations, your attorney can file a lawsuit and litigate your case in court and pursue an efficient result on your behalf.

Litigation Following a Truck Accident

The litigation phase of a truck accident case begins when a personal injury attorney files a lawsuit in court. However, even after filing a lawsuit, the parties may still decide to resolve their case via settlement.

During litigation, the parties will partake in discovery, continue exchanging documents, submit to depositions, and attend a settlement conference with the court. If the case remains unresolved by the end of the litigation process, the parties may take their case to a civil jury trial for a jury to determine the outcome.

Instead of taking a case to trial, the parties may pursue alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or binding arbitration, to resolve their case out of court.

Your truck accident lawyer can explore potential legal options for your case and will work towards obtaining the highest monetary recovery for you.

Collecting Monetary Damages for Truck Accident Injuries

If you can establish the legal elements of your truck accident claim or lawsuit, you may be eligible to recover various categories of monetary compensation. Your attorney will fight for your legal rights so you obtain the most compensation available via settlement or litigation.

Common monetary damages of truck accident cases include compensation for past and future pain and suffering, loss of spousal consortium, lost earnings, loss of earning capacity, lifetime care costs, permanent disfigurement or disability, lost quality of life, loss of use of a body part, mental anguish, and medical expenses.

Speak With a Truck Accident Lawyer About Your Legal Matter Today

Tatiana Boohoff, Lawyer for Truck Accident
Tatiana Boohoff, Truck Accident Attorney

If you recently suffered injuries in a truck accident, you need to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can handle every step of the claims filing and litigation processes and work hard to maximize the total settlement or litigation compensation you recover in your case.

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October 10, 2023
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