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How Federal Regulations Impact Truck Accident Lawsuits

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Semi truck on highway at sunrise

The trucking industry is strictly regulated because of the dangers large commercial trucks pose to passenger vehicles. The size and weight disparity between large trucks and passenger cars mean that trucks take much longer to stop, are more difficult to handle, and often cause severe damage and catastrophic injuries or deaths in accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation that regulates trucking carriers and commercial truck drivers. Trucking companies and drivers must follow the government’s regulations or face stiff fines and penalties. Scroll down to learn how federal regulations impact truck accident lawsuits when injury or fatality truck collisions occur.

Role of the FMCSA

The FMCSA promulgates and enforces regulations for trucking carriers and commercial truck drivers. Regulated drivers and entities must follow these rules when operating commercial trucks. If they fail to do so, the FMCSA can engage in enforcement actions. The FMCSA regulations are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 49, sect. 300-399 and cover many aspects of operating large trucks and buses, including the following:

Importance of FMCSA Regulations in Trucking Lawsuits

If you are injured in an accident caused by a truck driver, your attorney will investigate what happened to determine the accident’s cause. Normally, injured accident victims must prove negligence to recover compensation in an injury lawsuit. It is not always easy to prove the four elements of negligence, which include the following:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
  • The defendant violated the duty of care.
  • The defendant’s breach of the duty of care caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
  • The plaintiff suffered calculable damages.

Wondering how federal regulations impact truck accident lawsuits? Regulatory violations can provide a shortcut to proving negligence. If the driver or trucking carrier engaged in regulatory violations, and those violations contributed to the accident, the plaintiff will only have to show the regulatory violation occurred instead of having to present evidence the driver or company was negligent.

Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se is how federal regulations impact truck accident lawsuits. When a defendant’s actions violate the law, the regulatory violation is considered to be automatic negligence. The jury won’t have to decide whether the defendant breached the duty of care. Instead, the regulatory violation is enough to satisfy this legal element.

Even though FMCSA regulations are not statutes, they are still laws. This means that when a driver violates a regulation and causes an accident, an injured accident victim can pursue a negligence per se cause of action against the driver.

FMCSA Violations and Trucking Accidents

The FMCSA’s regulations are geared to protect the safety of others traveling on the road near large trucks. When trucking companies or drivers take shortcuts and violate these rules, they place others at risk of serious accidents. For example, if a trucking company fails to maintain a large truck properly, the truck might then experience a blowout that causes the vehicle traveling behind it to have a catastrophic accident.

Since truck accidents often cause severe injuries and lifelong disabilities, trucking carriers must carry insurance with high policy limits. Because of the money at stake, insurers and trucking companies aggressively defend against truck accident lawsuits. A truck accident lawyer will conduct an extensive investigation to identify all potential causes and liable parties to ensure the responsible parties are held accountable for their negligent actions. This includes reviewing the evidence to identify potential regulatory violations.

Identifying a regulatory violation helps to show the driver or company was culpable and can make it easier to prove your claim. However, if there were no regulatory violations, your attorney will work to gather evidence to prove each of the legal elements of negligence.

Consult a Knowledgeable Truck Accident Attorney

If you think a truck driver caused your serious accident, you should talk to the truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. Our attorneys have years of experience holding trucking carriers accountable and recovering fair compensation for our clients. Call us today to schedule a consultation at 417-322-2222 or contact us online.

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