In order for truck accident law firms to serve their clients as best as possible and give them the highest chance at winning their cases, there’s one vital thing they must do: stay apprised of changing trucking regulations in the area and in the nation. These trucking regulations play a large role in not just the evidence a truck accident lawyer can use, but also in how the case is built and what damages the victim is due.
Unfortunately, trucking regulations change regularly, both to improve driver safety and the safety of others on the roads, as well as to offer better working conditions to those in the trucking industry. It’s important for all truck accident law firms to stay up-to-date on these ever-changing regulations to give their clients the best chance at success.
To put it into perspective, let’s take a look at the impact trucking regulations can have on a wreck, on the evidence gathered and on a case overall. These regulations typically influence:
- The driver’s work schedule—One of the biggest areas of trucking regulations relates to a truck driver’s working schedule: specifically, how many hours they can drive without a break, without sleep or in a specific time period. In a truck accident claim, this is important for several reasons: first, it can put the blame on the driver. If you can prove that the driver was violating these working-hour regulations (also called hours of service), you can usually prove fault or negligence. Second, it also tells a lawyer what evidence they need. Most trucks are outfitted with digital logbooks that detail when the driver was on the move and when they weren’t. If they were violating schedule regulations, the logbook can be a vital piece of evidence.
- The driver’s health—There are many trucking regulations that also pertain to the health of the drivers. After all, they operate massive, dangerous machinery. Our government wants to ensure they are fit and healthy enough to drive without putting others on the road at risk. Therefore, these regulations often require regular health exams, physicals and screenings, as well as bar drivers with certain injuries or adverse health conditions. If a driver in a truck accident is found in violation of these regulations, it can prove 1) that they were unfit to drive and therefore negligent, and 2) that the trucking company was negligent in its practices. Typically, truck accident law firms will need medical records that state the patient’s health condition or lack of physicals/screenings in order to prove this.
- The care and maintenance of the truck itself—Trucking regulations also often dictate how drivers or fleet owners must care for and maintain their trucks. They set up maintenance schedules and various requirements for ensuring a vehicle is safe for operation, and trucking companies are required to keep records of this maintenance on site. When a truck accident happens, accessing these files is crucial for an attorney. They can prove that a truck was not properly maintained and therefore endangered others on the road and caused the wreck. Consequently, they can prove the driver or their employer was negligent.
- The clearance and hiring of the driver—There are also extensive trucking regulations that detail what requirements a driver must meet before being hired, such as background checks they must clear, tests they must pass and skills they must possess. These are kept in the driver’s employment file for as long as they are on staff. If a driver gets in a wreck, a lawyer will often need to access these files in order to prove 1) that a driver was not fit to drive, and 2) that a company was negligent in its hiring practices and is therefore at fault.
As one of the premier truck accident law firms in the area, we know how important staying abreast of changing trucking regulations is—and that’s just what we do. We’re experts in truck accident cases, so if you’ve been in a wreck, our expert attorneys know how to use those regulations to your advantage. Contact us today to discuss your case.