18-Wheeler Truck Accidents: Federal and State Law Differences

Truck accidents are unfortunately common on U.S. roadways, killing about 5,000 individuals each year and injuring many more.  Accidents between trucks and passenger vehicles are often more serious than those involving two passenger vehicles due to the tremendous size of 18-wheelers.

Understanding the hazards and risks associated with sharing the roadway with trucks, as well as the laws regulating the trucking industry, can help keep you safe and protect your legal rights in the event you are involved in a truck accident.

The Trucking Industry Is Governed by Federal and State Law

The trucking industry, due to its interstate nature, is governed by both federal and state laws.  Truck driving and trucking company regulations are administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and various state departments of transportation.  Federal and state laws control everything from maximum load weight and the number of hours a trucker must sleep to driver licensing and vehicle inspections.

It is imperative to inspect the truck driver and trucking company’s compliance with each of the regulations to determine the full scope of their potential liability.  Current or past failures to comply can offer excellent ammunition in a personal injury or wrongful death case.

Federal Regulations on the Trucking Industry

      Most federal regulations that govern the trucking industry are found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  Federal trucking regulations include:

  • Hours of service limits: Federal law imposes maximum hours that a driver can travel before they must rest and sleep.  They also limit time spent on the road before a break is required.  These laws are updated often, and may shortly change to include a “restart” provision requiring drivers take a considerable break after driving a certain number of hours.
  • Structured logs: Federal laws require that truckers keep records of relevant driving information in log books. These logs record information such as hours spent on the road, rest time, maintenance records, and more.  These logs can help to show violations of sleep restrictions, negligent driving, or other misconduct
  • Vehicles: Safety regulations dictate nearly every aspect of the truck construction and size.  Trucks cannot exceed federal weight or length requirements, and must meet emissions and other safety requirements.
  • Insurance coverage: Trucking companies are mandated under federal law to carry various levels of insurance coverage depending upon the type of materials hauled.

State Regulations on the Trucking Industry

Each state will also have a set of trucking industry regulations.  Some states set speed limits for commercial truckers or impose their own sleep requirements.  Other states will have lower minimum weight requirements, or higher allowable weights.  States can additionally impose insurance requirements.

Due to the involvement of state and federal law, determining liability in a truck accident can be complex and requires thorough investigation by an experienced truck accident attorney who will search for all violations of state or federal law on the part of the truck driver or trucking company.

Zinda Law Group:  Zealous Representation for Truck Accident Victims

Truck accidents are complex and often involve serious injuries or fatalities.  Those involved in a trucking accident will require the assistance of an experienced attorney with in-depth knowledge of federal and state trucking laws.

The Texas Truck Accident Attorneys at Zinda Law Group have assisted countless truck accident victims across the state.  We are highly knowledgeable of federal trucking laws and will pursue all avenues for your potential recovery. Call Zinda Law Group at 888-337-9042 for a free and confidential consultation, and let us start fighting for your full recovery today!