According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, a traffic accident occurs at least once every twelve (12) minutes. They estimate that over three million (3,000,000) people are injured annually due to vehicle related accidents. At Coleman, Chambers & Rogers, LLP, we know that no two (2) car accidents are the same. If you or a loved one has been injured by a wreck with a truck, the claim could be regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA.
The FMCSA was created by the federal government to govern the operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The Georgia Department of Public of Safety (GDPS) has adopted many of the regulations of the FMCSA and codified them into Georgia law. Most people, and even some motor carrier companies, are confused about which regulations apply to certain types of vehicles and drivers.
The United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) states that in 2009 alone, over three thousand (3,000) fatal accidents occurred involving CMVs, over fifty thousand (50,000) accidents with CMVs resulted in injuries, and over forty billion dollars ($40,000,000,000) can be attributed to accidents involving CMVs.
Big trucks cause big damage both to property (your car) and to the occupants. You need the assistance of an attorney experienced with trucking regulations and cases.
The first thing an experienced trucking attorney assesses is if the FMCSA applies to a potential lawsuit. As stated above, the FMCSA applies to CMVs. There are two types of CMVs:
- FMCSA 390.5 states that a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) or gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) between ten thousand and one pounds (10,001 lbs) and twenty-six thousand pounds (26,000 lbs) is a CMV.
- Large pickup trucks or box trucks usually outfitted with equipment
- A vehicle is also a CMV if the GVWR exceeds twenty-six thousand pounds (26,000 lbs) or if its gross combination weight ratings (GCWR) are as high as twenty-eight thousand pounds (28,000 lbs). To drive these types of vehicles, one must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
- Vehicles like dump trucks and 18-wheelers
A motor carrier is required to meet minimum safety standards to keep drivers and CMVs on the road. One thing motor carriers are required to do is maintain driver qualification files for every person operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). This is contained in Section 391 of the FMCSA.
The driver qualification file must contain:
- Application for employment
- Safety performance history verifications
- Original MVR
- Current copy of certificate of medical exam or health card
- Annual MVR
- Annual certificate of violations
- Annual Review
- Road test certificate
There is a distinction in FMCSA 391 between CDL and non-CDL drivers. The driver qualification files of a CDL driver must contain all documents required for non-CDL drivers and the following:
- Copy of commercial driver’s license
- Pre-employment drug test results
- Signed receipt for the alcohol and drug testing policy
The driver is subject to random, post-accident and reasonable suspicion drug testing. The test results must be retained with the driver qualification file.
Along with maintaining driver qualification files, motor carriers are required to conduct background checks on all employees who operate or are going to operate a CMV. That involves contacting prior employers and obtaining MVRs. Motor carriers are also required to obtain the United States Department of Transpiration (US DOT) number. They must apply the US DOT number on certain areas of the CMV. Drivers are also required to conduct pre and post-trip inspections of the CMV and be knowledgeable of the rules and regulations of the FMCSA.
Violating the regulations of FMCSA is one aspect that will be addressed in any lawsuit stemming from a collision with a CMV. An experienced trucking attorney could also assert other causes of action in your lawsuit, such as : wrongful death, respondeat superior, negligent hiring, negligent retention and negligent entrustment.
At Coleman, Chambers & Rogers, LLP, we understand the FMCSA. Contact us at 678-601-2495.
To prove a claim of negligent hiring or retention claim, an attorney must show that:
- The employer has a duty of exercising ordinary care not to hire or retain an employee the employer knows or should have known poses a risk of harm to others, where it is reasonably foreseeable from the employee’s tendencies or propensities that the employee could cause the type of harm sustained by the plaintiff.
To prove a claim of negligent entrustment, an attorney must show that:
- A party is liable if he or she entrusts someone with an instrumentality with the actual knowledge that the person to who he or she has entrusted the instrumentality is incompetent by reason of his or her age or inexperience, his or her physical or mental condition, or his or her known habit of recklessness.
Negligent hiring, negligent retention, and negligent entrustment can all stem from:
- Aggressive or reckless driving
- Drugs or alcohol
- Defective brakes
- Improper loading
- Poor maintenance and inspection of CMV
- Sleep deprivation
- Driving too many hours
Along with addressing any and all causes of action, a team of experts may also be utilized to prove elements of your lawsuit, such as:
- Accident reconstructionists
- FMCSA regulations experts
- Digital and modern technology experts
Having an attorney who understands the complexity of a lawsuit involving the FMCSA, concerned experts and various causes of actions is essential to your legal representation. Your attorney must be able to know what the FMCSA regulations are, how to show that a motor carrier was not complying with those regulations and how to present that information to a judge and jury.
As a victim of an accident involving a CMV, you or a loved one may be able to recover:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
Contact our office if you have been involved in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle and are seeking legal representation. The team at Coleman, Chambers & Rogers, LLP, understands FMCSA and state regulations that regulate trucking companies and truck drivers. For an initial consultation, call 678-601-2495.
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