Trucking accidents are on the rise, which means that more people need to become aware of these serious accidents and the effects that they can have on your life. In 2002 alone, an outstanding 4,897 individuals died and 130,000 more were injured in crashes that involved a large truck. The injuries and long-term damage that stem from these accidents can be extreme, and if you lose a loved one, much worse.
Federal and state laws make up the standards that all trucking companies and drivers must abide by. Here are some of the laws that must be followed:
Commercial Driver Licenses: If you drive a large truck, then you will have to follow specific regulations and guidelines put in place that reflect your work. If you do not abide by these rules, then the company you work for or yourself could be held liable for another’s injuries. One of these laws is a commercial driver license, or a CDL. If you drive an 18-wheeler or other large truck, then you have to follow state statutes set on your licensing. If you didn’t have the proper license and you were involved in an accident, then you could see yourself in some legal trouble.
Driver Rest: The hours of service that a trucker follow are very important as well. This means that, however long you are permitted to drive without taking a break and resting, is being regulated.
Maximum Permitted Weight: Did you know that there is a limit to what a truck is able to legally haul? Single axle trucks can carry up to 20,000 pounds and two-axle trucks can carry up to 34,000. If you overload a truck, you could experience harsh dangers. If your truck is involved in a serious accident and you were hauling items, there will normally be a question of when your truck was last weighed, as it could play an important role in the investigation.
Quality Control: Manufacturing and repairs are regulated for quality control. If there was a defect in your truck and it caused an accident, then there may be a claim made against the manufacturer, supplier, or repairer of the truck. This is also known as a type of product liability law.
Hazardous Waste: The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (OHMS) has developed safety regulations for transporting hazardous materials. What if you haven’t followed these guidelines? You could have a claim made against you as well as the company shipping the hazardous material.
Is a Trucking Company Able to Avoid Liability?
Trucking companies typically do not accept responsibility for accidents and will leave it solely to the driver, vehicle, and equipment as it has been known in the past. This is the unfortunate fact but it is usually true. Trucking companies obtain permission to operate the truck but they do not own the tractor, trailer, or equipment used for hauling. They will lease this equipment to the owner or operator. The drivers are also usually hired as independent contractors, making it more difficult for liability to fall on them.
Furthermore, you may consider what damages you will be responsible for. What happens if a lawsuit is brought on? Damages may include medical expenses like ambulance and hospital fees, pain and suffering for mental anguish, lost wages for missed time at work, future lost earning capacity, loss of companionship within a marriage, and special damages.
If you have been involved in a trucking accident, it is important to seek legal advice immediately after the accident takes place. You may not have much time before the other party takes action and it is best to consider what options you have as soon as possible. Call a lawyer you can trust at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi.