Approximately 500,000 trucking accidents occur in the United States every year. Due to the size and weight of commercial trucks, many of these crashes result in catastrophic injury or wrongful death. In these cases, contacting a competent truck accident attorney might be the only way to get the full compensation injured individuals deserve.

The operation of commercial trucks is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) are federal safety regulations that govern all interstate trucking operations, and these safety regulations are often critical in determining whether a semi-truck driver or company has violated its duty to the other motorists on the road and the public. All commercial truck drivers and their employers must comply with the FMCSRs. These regulations control nearly all aspects of the operation of commercial trucks from driver behavior (use of cellular phones, work hours, health, etc.) to the truck itself.

Unfortunately, many lawyers handle commercial truck accident cases like they are typical motor vehicle accidents. This allows trucking companies to get away with egregious violations of the FMCSRs and Florida statutes. At the Flanagan Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Law Firm, P.A., we understand that Florida commercial truck accident cases require great attention to detail and intimate knowledge of the applicable regulations and statutes to obtain maximum recovery for our clients. Contact our firm for a no-cost initial consultation regarding your truck accident case.


Driving While Fatigued / Driving in Excess of “Hours of Service” Requirements

The commercial trucking industry views each truck as a profit unit that carries goods. The more deliveries that the truck makes, the more money the company makes. Therefore, if the truck can be driven for longer hours and complete more work, more profit will be made. Thus, commercial truck drivers are under a tremendous amount of pressure to drive for an unreasonable and unsafe amount of time per day or week. Every hour that a truck driver spends resting between jobs is an hour that the truck is not being used and therefore, is an hour that is not generating any profit.

In an effort to prevent truck drivers from driving while dangerously fatigued, the FMCSRs limit the amount of hours that a driver can work per day. Drivers are required to record the hours that they work each day in a “log book” so that there is documentation showing that they’re complying with the “hours of service” limitations.

While many companies and their employees follow the federal regulations, we have seen deposition testimony of truck drivers stating that they routinely violate the hours of service limitations and that “a log book is just something that we falsify so we can drive more hours.” This kind of behavior is reckless disregard for the safety of everyone on the road and must be changed.The best way to change this behavior is through winning high-dollar settlements and verdicts that effectively force trucking companies to follow the federal regulations.

Driving While Distracted by the Use of a Cellular Phone

Driving a commercial truck while operating a cellular phone is extremely dangerous, even for the most experienced driver. Due to the vehicle’s size, weight, blind spots, and speed, driving a truck requires paying complete attention. Recognizing this danger, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration promulgated a regulation prohibiting the use of cell phones by commercial truck drivers while behind the wheel. Nevertheless, many crashes are caused by drivers who illegally use their cell phones while driving.

If you have been involved in a collision with a commercial truck, it is imperative that you hire a knowledgeable truck accident attorney that is experienced in obtaining and using cell phone data in litigation and cross-examination. The key to proving your injury case could be contained in the truck driver’s phone data.

Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs

Due to the industry-wide pressure on truck drivers to drive excessive hours, some truck drivers have turned to the use of illegal drugs to stay awake and attempt to stay focused on the road. This practice is not only dangerous to the public, but it is also very dangerous to truck drivers themselves. Additionally, a driver may be impaired by drugs, but because these drugs do not outwardly affect a his or her presentation or appearance to law enforcement, a police officer may not perform drug or alcohol testing. Recognizing this practice and the dangers associated with it, the federal regulations require a truck driver’s employer to perform post-accident drug and alcohol testing regardless of whether the driver shows any outward signs of drug or alcohol use.

49 C.F.R. 382: Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing

This section of the FMSCRs requires that employers test their driver for drugs and alcohol after a collision if the collision involved: (1) disabling damage to a vehicle, (2) injury, or (3) resulted in the CMV operator being issued a citation for a moving violation. This is mandatory. The employer does not get a pass if law enforcement decides not to test the driver for drugs or alcohol. An employer’s failure to comply with this provision is a crime and may result in civil penalties. See the FMCSR regulation below:

C.F.R. 49 Part 382.303

(a) As soon as practicable following an occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle operating on a public road in commerce, each employer shall test for alcohol for each of its surviving drivers:
(2) Who receives a citation within 8 hours of the occurrence under state or local law for a moving traffic violation arising from the accident, if the accident involved:
(ii) One or more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident, requiring the motor vehicle to be transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle.

(b) As soon as practicable following an occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle operating on a public road in commerce, each employer shall test for controlled substances for each of its surviving drivers:
(2) Who receive a citation within 32 hours of the occurrence under state or local law for a moving traffic violation arising from the accident, if the accident involved:
(ii) One or more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident, requiring the motor vehicle to be transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle.

In addition, Chapter 382 incorporates Chapter 40 which sets forth the guidelines and procedures for an employer to perform drug tests. Chapter 40 requires employers to perform random drug and alcohol testing of all of its drivers. Additionally, prior to hiring a driver, an employer must request drug and alcohol test results from all prior Department of Transportation-regulated employers. In a recent deposition, the president of a towing company admitted that his company does not request prior drug tests from other employers, does not drug test prior to putting a driver behind the wheel of a CMV, and had never drug tested any of his employees until one of his drivers killed a motorist. These clear violations of safety regulations are reckless disregard for the safety of all motorists.

Knowledge of these regulations is essential to getting maximum value on truck accident cases. If you have been involved in a crash with a truck or commercial motor vehicle, contact Flanagan Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Law Firm, P.A. for a no-cost, no-obligation evaluation of your Florida truck accident case.

Contact us for your free case evaluation and learn about your rights and our experience.