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Understanding Federal Trucking Regulations and How They Affect Liability in Accidents

Colburn Law

Trucking is an essential component of the American economy, but it comes with inherent risks. Due to their immense size and weight, commercial vehicles can cause severe accidents that lead to devastating consequences. Every year, many people die or are seriously injured in truck accidents.

To prevent these dangerous collisions, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces critical regulations to ensure the safety of drivers and other road users. These regulations are complex but understanding them is critical to reducing the risk of trucking accidents and determining liability in the event of an accident.

FMCSA Rules and Regulations

The FMCSA is responsible for enforcing trucking regulations in the United States. These rules set standards for driver qualifications, vehicle maintenance, hours of service, and other aspects of commercial trucking to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities. 

One of the most important FMCSA regulations is the Hours-of-Service rule, which limits the number of hours a commercial driver can operate a truck without taking a break. Under this rule, drivers are limited to a maximum of 11 hours of driving time per day, with a mandatory 30-minute break after eight hours of driving. Drivers are also required to take a minimum of 10 hours off-duty between shifts.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Trucking accidents can be caused by various factors, including driver error, poor vehicle maintenance, and weather conditions. Driver fatigue is a significant contributor, and the Hours-of-Service rule is designed to reduce this risk. 

Other common causes of truck accidents include:

How Failure to Obey FMCSA Rules Can Impact Liability

In Washington, any person or entity that is responsible for a road accident can be held liable for any damages suffered by the victims. Multiple parties can be at fault for a truck accident, including drivers, trucking companies, cargo-loading companies, and even government agencies.

If any of these parties violate the FMCSA regulations and cause an accident, they may be held accountable for it. For example, say that a driver operates a vehicle past the Hours-of-Service limit, falls asleep at the wheel, and gets into a collision. The truck driver would be liable for the accident. If the trucking company forced the driver to violate these rules, it could also be found responsible.

Trucking companies are also required to inspect their vehicles regularly and perform repairs when necessary. If a trucking company fails to uphold this responsibility and a vehicle defect causes an accident, it could be held liable.

Speak to a Washington Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you are injured in a Washington truck collision, you may qualify for an insurance claim or lawsuit against the responsible party. However, determining liability in a truck accident can be complex, and it can be difficult to know what to do next. 

In these situations, you need an attorney on your side who can investigate your case and identify the at-fault party. A Washington truck accident lawyer can also help you navigate the legal process, prove the defendant’s liability, and fight for your right to recovery. After receiving medical care for your injuries, contact an attorney to discuss your case and plan your next steps.