Federal Trucking Regulations
Federal trucking regulations apply to interstate truck drivers of commercial motor vehicles and all vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating that is more than 10,000 pounds. The federal regulations have been mostly adopted by New Mexico. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promulgates the FMCSA regulations. If you are involved in a truck accident, it is crucial to retain an Albuquerque truck accident lawyer who understands the federal trucking regulations. Matthew Vance is an experienced attorney who can examine the circumstances surrounding your truck accident injuries and develop a strong strategy to pursue damages from a driver or a trucking company on your behalf. Mr. Vance is a skillful negotiator, but he also has experience taking lawsuits to trial before a judge or jury as necessary.Understanding the Federal Trucking Regulations
The FMCSA monitors the commercial drivers' licenses of interstate truck drivers. Carriers are the companies behind trucks and their operators. Before a carrier may put a truck on an interstate highway, it needs to follow the FMCSA regulations. Interstate trucking is overseen by the federal Department of Transportation. Generally, carriers that operate only within New Mexico need to comply with state regulations, but the state has adopted most of the federal regulations, with some modifications.
The FMCSA regulations require carriers to register with the FMCSA and obtain a USDOT number that identifies the vehicle owner and helps to monitor safety data from any crash investigations or review for compliance. Carriers have a non-delegable duty to supervise, control, and monitor each of their truck drivers and employees, as well as their independent contractors. Among other things, carriers must preserve records, follow certain procedures when hiring, follow certain procedures in supervising, adequately train truck drivers and others, maintain their fleets of commercial trucks, and follow weight and size restrictions. After an accident, the carrier is supposed to test the truck driver.
The FMCSA also regulates interstate truck drivers. Interstate commercial truck drivers need to meet specific qualifications and follow federal regulations. They must have a commercial driver's license. In spite of the tight deadlines imposed by a trucking company, interstate truck drivers must adhere to strict hours of service rules and break schedules. The hours of service regulations restrict how many hours a truck driver can drive in a 24-hour period. The goal is to reduce fatigued driving. Truck drivers need to have a certain number of consecutive hours off before starting a shift. They can only drive for a certain number of consecutive hours without a break. They also need to have certain rest breaks.
Under the FMCSA regulations, truck drivers are also supposed to keep detailed logbooks. The trucking company is supposed to check and monitor the logbooks as part of its supervisorial duties under the regulations. Unfortunately, some carriers encourage truck drivers to falsify their logbooks and press on in spite of sleep deprivation. They may look the other way even when they know that a truck driver is taking pills to stay alert.
Even when truck drivers lie in their logbooks, it may be possible to identify the falsity and establish negligence. Trucks have computers that keep track of the hours that a truck is being operated. Law enforcement officers can also use other methods to decide whether it was possible for a driver to be at a particular location at the time that they claim that they were.
A truck driver's failure to follow federal trucking regulations can result in serious accidents, including jackknifing and rollovers. Commercial trucks are likely to cause catastrophic injuries or death when they are overturned.
A trucking company can be vicariously (indirectly) liable for a truck driver's negligence in the scope of employment. It can also be held directly liable for its own negligent hiring, supervision, or training when its failure to abide by FMCSA regulations in the process of hiring, supervising, or training a driver results in an accident. This is important because trucking companies usually have more substantial insurance coverage than do individual truck drivers. Truck accidents on I-25 or I-10, among other highways, may have multiple accident victims with catastrophic or fatal injuries. There may be multiple claims against the insurance policies that cover the parties involved in the accident.
A trucking company's violation of the FMCSA regulations can be strong evidence of negligence. For example, trucking companies are supposed to conduct background checks and drug and alcohol testing of truck drivers before hiring them and entrusting them with commercial trucks. If a truck driver gets into a drunk driving accident, and your lawyer can show that the trucking company failed to conduct a background check that would have uncovered a history of accidents, it may be possible to hold the trucking company directly liable for damages.Consult an Injury Lawyer in the Albuquerque Area
Matthew Vance, the principal of the Law Office of Matthew Vance, was born and raised in New Mexico, and his family lives in the state. He has handled cases with values in the hundreds of thousands and millions, and he has recovered the same for his clients. Mr. Vance previously worked as an insurance defense attorney for three years, so he has strong insights into how insurers and defense attorneys operate and can counter their tactics effectively. If you were injured or a loved one was killed as a result of a truck driver or trucking company's failure to follow federal trucking regulations, you should consult the Law Office of Matthew Vance. Our firm represents people in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Los Alamos, Taos, Raton, Gallup, Grants, Belen, Rio Rancho, Los Lunas, Socorro, Truth of Consequences, Deming, Silver City, Alamogordo, Clovis, Hobbs, Espanola, Roswell, Carlsbad, Santa Rosa, Tucumcari, Farmington, and Bloomfield. Contact Matthew Vance at (505) 242-6267 or via our online form.