When seeking civil damages following a serious roadway accident involving a commercial vehicle, one of the most important aspects of building a successful lawsuit is assigning liability to all responsible parties. In this particular type of case, any proven violation of federal laws related to the trucking industry could serve as evidence of negligence—and therefore liability—by a truck driver and/or their employer. A seasoned truck crash lawyer could help a plaintiff understand federal trucking laws and trucking industry regulations and how they might be applicable in their case.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—the governing body of which is the United States Department of Transportation—regulates the trucking industry in the United States. Each state also has its own set of rules related to commercial truck driving, but most states have adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations, so typically they will mirror each other.
Either way, those guidelines govern the conduct of drivers and trucking companies and, if applicable, supersede any local or state laws or rules that a driver or company has to abide by. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration typically reviews the guidelines they set on at least an annual basis.
Trucking companies are usually given a Department of Transportation (DOT) number, and once they have that, they have the burden of complying with the federal regulations set by the FMCSA. There are two kinds of carriers recognized by the FMCSA: interstate carriers and intrastate carriers.
An interstate carrier provides transportation services across and between states, so they can actually cross state borders and ask to register with the Departments of Transportation in other states. An intrastate carrier, on the other hand, is a carrier that only operates solely within one state and does not engage in interstate commerce. In other words, an intrastate carrier that only operates in Georgia does not cross the border into other states and only operates geographically within Georgia.
The federal government is limited in terms of regulating intrastate commerce, so the federal regulations and the motor carrier safety guidelines only apply to interstate carriers. However, as mentioned before, many states have adopted the federal regulations governing motor carriers.
Georgia has its own insurance requirements regarding trucks and, depending on the kind of truck, how much coverage they have to carry when driving. Under Georgia state law, the minimum insurance requirement for the average driver is $25,000 of coverage, but trucking companies are required to carry significantly more coverage.
It is also important to note that the mandatory liability coverage for trucking companies can change depending on whether the freight they are carrying is hazardous or nonhazardous. In the context of insurance requirements, hazardous freight would be more expensive for the trucking company to haul.
Understanding how federal trucking laws and trucking industry regulations may affect civil litigation against a negligent truck driver or company could be crucial to the ultimate success of your case. To learn more, contact a qualified truck accident attorney today.