A fully loaded tractor trailer truly dwarfs the size of any other automobile. It can weigh up to 40 times as much as a passenger car. It is absolutely essential that all large commercial trucks are operated in the safest manner possible. There are federal regulations in place to ensure this.
How do federal rules impact a truck accident injury claim in Georgia? It depends on several different factors. Here, our Georgia semi-truck accident lawyers explain the key things that you should understand about federal trucking regulations and the impact that they can have on your case.
Understanding Federal Safety Regulations for Commercial Trucks
As a starting point, it is very important to understand that federal safety regulations play a significant role in the commercial trucking industry. These regulations—which are largely implemented and overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—are meant to reduce accidents and improve safety practices all across the trucking industry. Federal regulations apply to all large commercial trucks involved in interstate commerce. That covers most, but technically not all, semi-trucks that operate in Georgia.
Three Key Federal Rules that Could Impact a Truck Accident Case
What are the primary federal safety regulations that apply to commercial trucks? Here are three of the most important federal rules that could affect your truck accident claim:
- Hours of Service (HOS) Rules: As noted by the FMCSA, there are federal driving time limits for commercial truckers. The HOS rules are designed to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. These regulations limit the number of consecutive hours a driver can operate a commercial truck and mandate rest periods. For example, drivers are typically not allowed to drive more than 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Vehicle Maintenance Requirements: Federal regulations require regular inspections, maintenance, and, when needed, the repair of commercial tractor trailers. These rules help to ensure that eighteen wheelers are in good working condition and do not pose a hazard on the road. In an accident case, evidence of poor maintenance can be a sign of negligence on the part of the trucking company.
- Cargo and Load Securement Standards: The Department of Transportation (DOT) explains that federal standards mandate that cargo must be properly secured to avoid shifting or falling off during transit. Improperly secured cargo can cause accidents. In legal proceedings, evidence of non-compliance with load securement standards could constitute negligence.
Truck Accident Liability is Still Governed By Georgia State Law
Hurt in a commercial truck crash in Georgia? State law matters. While federal regulations are crucial in establishing standards, truck accident liability is still primarily governed by Georgia law. Under Georgia law, victims of truck accidents can seek compensation if they can prove that the accident was caused by the negligence of the truck driver or the trucking company. A violation of a federal safety regulation is, by definition, a form of negligence.
Notably, Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule, meaning that a victim can recover damages even if they were partly at fault, as long as they were less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. However, the compensation will be reduced by the percentage of their fault. For example, if you are found to be 20 percent responsible for your own truck accident in Atlanta, you will be liable for 20 percent of your damages.
We Help Injured Truck Accident Victims Navigate the Claims Process
Navigating the intricacies of truck accident claims involving federal and state laws can be daunting. It is normal to have a lot of questions about exactly what needs to be done in the aftermath of a truck crash in Georgia. Our team of experienced Georgia trucking accident attorneys understands the complex nature of these claims and is dedicated to helping victims seek the maximum financial compensation. You may be able to recover monetary damages for:
- Property loss (vehicle repairs);
- Emergency room care;
- Medical bills and other costs;
- Physical therapy and long-term medical care;
- Loss of wages and loss of earning power;
- Pain and suffering;
- Disability/disfigurement; and
- Wrongful death of a family member.
Call Our Atlanta, GA Semi-Truck Accident Attorneys for Immediate Help
At Lourie, Chance, Forlines, Carter & King, PC, our Georgia semi-truck accident lawyers are standing by, ready to take action to protect your rights and help you secure the maximum financial compensation. If you have any questions about trucking safety regulations, we are here as a legal resource. Reach out to us by phone or contact us online to set up a free, no obligation initial appointment. Our firm handles semi-truck accident claims all across Georgia.