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Truck Accident Lawyer: Understanding Federal Truck Regulations in California

Truck accidents––accidents between passenger vehicles and commercial or semi-trucks––can result in some of the worst auto accidents on the road. The risk of severe, life-threatening injuries is high. Injured parties must file strong, smart personal injury or wrongful death claims to receive fair and just compensation. 

At The Geller Firm, we know that monetary compensation will never fully make you whole, but it will help pay bills and reduce some stress so that you and your loved ones can work at regaining control of your life again. Our personal injury attorney in California will thoroughly investigate the truck accident and guide you through the process of a personal injury or wrongful death claim. We understand what is at stake and put all our resources towards a successful end. Contact our office at 415-840-0570 today to schedule a free consultation. 

How do Federal Regulations Impact California Truck Accident Lawsuits?

Every driver on the road is required to follow the rules of the road of the jurisdiction that they are in. However, because of the amount of time that they spend on the road as well as the potential devastating consequences that can occur if things go wrong, truck drivers are subject to an additional level of regulations. These regulations are created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the federal agency tasked with providing safety oversight for commercial motor vehicles in the United States.

FMCSA regulations touch on nearly every aspect of the trucking business, all with the ultimate goal of keeping the roads safe. Some of these regulations are focused on truck drivers, including special licenses that truck drivers need to acquire and limits on the amount of hours that they can spend on the road. Other regulations are focused on the trucks themselves, such as requirements that trucks undergo regular inspection and maintenance.

Contra Costa County Truck Driver Conduct and Truck Condition FMCSA Requirements 

  • The driver must carry a commercial driver's license required by state law.
  • The driver must be 21 years old to engage in interstate commerce.
  • The driver cannot drive over eight hours without taking a 30-minute break and can only drive for 11 hours after being off duty for 10 hours.
  • Federal employees conduct regular inspections of trucks. Drivers must conduct inspections each day. If the driver uncovers a problem, the information must be included in their report.
  • A truck driver must take a drug and alcohol test after specific accidents.

Keep in mind that the fMCSA sets minimum standards, but each state can impose regulations that establish higher standards.

Why Does It Matter If an FMCSA Rule was Violated in Contra Costa County?

A violation of an FMCSA rule can indicate liability, and that is important to win a personal injury or wrongful death claim in California. FMCSA regulations introduce a whole new level of complication to truck accidents. A truck accident attorney can more clearly identify what those might be in your specific case, but some ways they could impact a potential case are discussed below.

Experts

Because FMCSA regulations introduce a whole new set of rules into the equation, identifying potential violations requires another level of expertise. It can also be more complicated to accurately model and represent a truck accident than a typical car accident. Because of this, FMCSA cases can often necessitate partnering with specialized experts.

Negligence Per Se

Most car accident cases involve proving that the other driver was driving negligently at the time of the accident. Traditionally, this requires proving the legal elements of duty, breach, causation, and damages, which an attorney can explain in more detail. However, there is another legal concept known as negligence per se.

Negligence per se can almost be thought of as a shortcut to negligence. It can be invoked if the truck driver was violating a statute or regulation while they were driving. FMCSA regulations introduce a new potential source of liability to establish a negligence per se case.

Trucking Companies

Truck accidents are also distinct from most car accidents in that truck drivers are usually employees of trucking companies. These companies have a responsibility to make sure that their drivers are trained and adhere to FMCSA regulations. This means that trucking companies are potential sources of compensation after an accident. Accordingly, trucking companies can be held liable for negligent hiring or retention of a driver.

Regulations to train and hire drivers include:

  • The employer must administer road tests.
  • The employer must check the driving record of an applicant for the past three years.
  • The employer must perform a background check.
  • The employer may need to require the truck driver to pass a drug screen and conduct random drug tests.
  • The employer must conduct annual reviews of its drivers.

Failure to perform any of these duties may result in a claim against the trucking company.

Why Hire a Truck Accident Attorney in Contra Costa County?

Simply put, hiring an experienced truck accident attorney after your accident gives you the best possible chance of ending up with a good outcome in a very bad situation. Numerous parties may be liable for your injuries, and an experienced attorney from The Geller Firm will be able to identify those parties and determine how best to pursue compensation. The introduction of these other parties, as well as the complicated web of statutes and regulations, means that pursuing a claim requires a special level of expertise.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney in California Today

At The Geller Firm, we have successfully represented clients who were involved in a trucking accident. We understand the laws established by the State of San Francisco Bay Area as well as federal law, and will make sure that each party who is liable is held accountable. You don't have to face this alone--–call 415-840-0570 today.

AWARDS

We have earned back-to-back Avvo Clients’ Choice Awards in 2021 & 2022. We have also been selected by Expertise.com as one of the Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Vallejo and Milpitas for 2023.

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