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What Do I Do If a Truck Hits Me?

Accidents involving commercial trucks can be particularly damaging because of these vehicles’ size, weight, and lack of mobility.  If you or a family member has been injured by a tractor trailer, semi-truck, rig or other large commercial truck or vehicle, it’s important to understand the specific rules that govern these vehicles and their drivers.  These official regulations can help determine liability in the event of a collision.

It’s important to retain an attorney immediately after an accident to investigate and collect evidence. The reason it is so crucial is that commercial trucking companies normally repair their vehicles quickly and can delete data (whether accidentally or intentionally) and record over video before the statute of limitations expires.

Below are four essential rules for commercial trucking.

Commercial Vehicles Are Subject to Strict Quality Control

Given the size and weight of commercial vehicles, there are many regulations that govern their manufacturing and repairs for everything from tires and mirrors to its frame and braking systems. By getting the history of the truck in your accident, your attorney can determine if there is a defect that was not fixed or if the truck was due for repairs.

Drivers Need Commercial Licenses     

While each state has the ability to modify regulations, Federal law requires drivers to have a single commercial motor vehicle license. It is the driver’s responsibility to have the proper license to operate their vehicle. If it is not up-to-date or not valid in the state the accident happened in, it can play an important role in any legal matters the arise from an accident involving a commercial truck.

Trucks Cannot Exceed Weight Limits

Overloading an 18-wheeler can be extremely dangerous. That’s why regulations exist to control the maximum weight a truck can haul. These limits are based on the size of the truck, so a single-axle truck can safely transport significantly less weight than a two-axle vehicle.

If overloading is a potential factor in a collision, your legal team will want to know how much weight the truck was carrying when the accident occurred and when it was last weighed during its journey.

Drivers Must Take Breaks

Very specific rules exist controlling how many consecutive hours a commercial driver may drive and how long they must rest before getting back on the road. These laws vary based on a number of factors, including the type of vehicle, the cargo, and the destination, and are in place to help prevent fatigue and reckless driving.

For example, federal “hours of service” regulations specify that a driver of a property-carrying vehicle may not start a shift without first taking 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Once on the road, the driver may then operate the truck for a period of 14 consecutive hours, only 11 of which can be active driving, at which point, he or she will need another 10 consecutive hours off-duty. During the trip, the driver cannot go more than 8 hours without at least a 30-minute rest.

Viñas and DeLuca has significant experience representing clients who have been injured by commercial vehicles. If you or someone you love has been in an accident and is in need of representation, give us a call today.