Just as trucks are more mechanically complex than passenger cars, accidents involving trucks are more legally complex than those between two or more private passenger vehicles. Truck drivers and trucking companies are subject to numerous regulatory requirements instituted to protect the safety of other motorists. When a violation of one or more of these regulations causes a collision or other accident, the law holds them responsible for the resulting injuries.
Numerous state and federal regulations can come into play during personal injury lawsuits involving commercial trucks:
- Maintenance requirements —Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require that commercial motor carriers operating in interstate commerce must undergo a through minimum inspection at least once every 12 months. North Carolina statutes extend these requirements to trucks operating exclusively within state lines.
- Weight and dimension limitations — North Carolina has put forth detailed limitations on the gross vehicle weight as well as dimensions of vehicles traveling on state, federal and interstate highways throughout the state. If a truck causes an accident while in violation of these limitations, it may be indicative of liability on the part of the driver or trucking company.
- Hours of operation limitations — Because driver distraction and fatigue is such a frequent cause of automobile accidents, the FMSCA limits property-carrying truckers operating in interstate commerce to 11 hours on duty at a time and 60 hours on duty in a seven day period or 70 hours on duty in an eight day period. North Carolina imposes similar — albeit slightly less strict — requirements for drivers operating exclusively within state lines.
A truck accident attorney must thoroughly investigate potential violations of these regulations in addition to other normal hallmarks of negligence when building an accident case against a commercial motor carrier.