Truck Accident Attorneys & Federal Trucking Laws
Washington, DC Accident Attorneys
One reason that trucking accident cases are far more complicated than regular auto accidents is the myriad of complex laws that apply to the trucking industry. Each state has its own trucking laws. Federal trucking laws apply in every state. They hold truck drivers to a much higher standard than non-commercial drivers, and they strictly govern how trucking companies operate. Federal trucking laws play a large role in determining who is ultimately responsible in a trucking accident.
Commercial Driver's License (CDL)
All commercial drivers must have a valid CDL. In order to get a CDL, drivers must go through special training and pass rigorous tests. There are different types of CDLs which determine what type and size of truck a driver may operate and the type of cargo they may carry. More dangerous trucks and cargo require more extensive training.
When a truck driver breaks the law, he can lose his CDL, and therefore, his livelihood.
A special class of CDL is required for transporting hazardous materials. That is just one of the very strict regulations covering who may carry them, what routes they can use, where they can park, how they must be secured, and more.
Hours of Service
Hours of service regulations (HOS) are a very controversial aspect of federal trucking regulations. They are meant to prevent fatigue by strictly outlining how many consecutive hours a commercial driver may spend on the road, and how many hours they must rest in between each stretch of driving. Truck drivers normally bear the burden and punishment for violating these rules, but trucking companies have certain responsibilities under HOS, as well.
Truck drivers are required to keep log books which include detailed entries of how much time they spend on the road. Trucking companies are notorious for requiring their drivers to meet unrealistic schedules — schedules that cannot be met without breaking the law. Often, HOS are violated to meet these schedules and some trucking companies actively encourage drivers to break these rules and falsify log book entries.
Hiring and Monitoring Drivers
Trucking companies are required to follow strict hiring practices and monitor their drivers. Among many qualifications, a driver must have a valid CDL and be able to pass a road test in a vehicle comparable to the one he or she will be driving.
During the hiring process, employers must obtain certain records from an applicant's former employer including any accidents or violations during the last three years. These records must be kept during the duration of the driver's employment and for three years after the driver is no longer with the company.
Trucking companies must review each driver's driving record every year. They must use random drug and alcohol testing, and drivers must have a physical examination every two years to ensure they are fit to drive.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in Washington DC, please e-mail or speak to our truck accident attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. before you settle with an insurance company.