What Happens When a Trucking Company Violates FMCSA Rules?

by Paula A. Wyatt | March 16, 2024 | Blog, Truck Accidents | 0 comments

What Happens When a Trucking Company Violates FMCSA Rules?

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations are in place to keep commercial truck drivers and other motorists safe. These regulations typically pertain to vehicle speeds, weight limits, loading and unloading procedures, and procedures for properly securing cargo onto a large commercial truck.

However, serious accidents and injuries may occur when truck drivers, trucking companies, and others violate these regulations.

What Happens When a Trucking Company Violates FMCSA Rules

If you sustained injuries in a truck accident that resulted from an FMCSA violation, an experienced San Antonio truck accident attorney in your area can help you. Specifically, your lawyer can promptly investigate the accident circumstances and pursue the monetary damages you need for your accident-related losses.

What Happens When Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies Commit FMCSA Violations?

When truck drivers and trucking companies violate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules, a range of accidents with severe consequences can occur. One common violation involves hours-of-service regulations, restricting the number of consecutive driving hours and mandating rest breaks. Violating these rules can lead to driver fatigue, significantly increasing the risk of accidents due to impaired reaction times and compromised alertness.

Trucking Companies Commit FMCSA Violations

Improper loading and cargo securement violations are another significant risk. Trucks carrying unsecured or improperly balanced loads can result in cargo shifts, leading to loss of control and potential rollover accidents. These violations contribute to hazardous road conditions and endanger truck drivers and motorists.

Failure to maintain and inspect vehicles by FMCSA standards is a serious violation that can lead to various accidents. Inadequate maintenance can result in brake failures, tire blowouts, or other mechanical issues that pose significant dangers on the road. Accidents stemming from mechanical failures can have catastrophic consequences for all parties involved.

Speeding violations by truck drivers are particularly dangerous. Large commercial vehicles require longer stopping distances, and exceeding speed limits reduces the driver's ability to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions. Speeding violations can lead to severe collisions, especially in adverse weather or congested traffic.

Driving under the influence is a grave violation that jeopardizes road safety. While FMCSA strictly prohibits truck drivers from operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, violations can still occur. Impaired driving poses a severe risk of accidents with potentially fatal outcomes.

Distracted driving violations are another increasing concern in the trucking industry. With the prevalence of electronic devices, truck drivers may engage in activities such as texting or using handheld devices while driving, diverting their attention from the road.

Distracted driving violations can result in accidents due to delayed reactions and impaired situational awareness.

Negligent hiring and training practices by trucking companies can also contribute to accidents. When companies fail to adequately vet and train drivers, they increase the likelihood of inexperienced or unqualified individuals operating large commercial vehicles, posing a heightened risk on the roads.

Accidents resulting from violations of FMCSA rules by truck drivers and trucking companies can encompass a range of scenarios, including fatigue-related incidents, improper loading accidents, maintenance failures, speeding collisions, impaired driving accidents, distracted driving incidents, and accidents arising from negligent hiring and training practices.

Stricter adherence to FMCSA regulations can prevent these accidents and ensure the safety of other road users.

Injuries That Serious Truck Accidents May Cause

Accidents resulting from truck driver and trucking company violations of FMCSA regulations can lead to injuries, including:  

  • Traumatic Brain Injury — One prevalent injury is traumatic brain injury (TBI), which the force of impact in collisions frequently causes. TBIs can result in cognitive impairments, memory loss, and other neurological complications, significantly affecting the victim's quality of life.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries — The sheer size and weight of commercial trucks amplify the force of impact, potentially leading to severe damage to the spinal cord. This can result in partial or complete paralysis, affecting mobility and requiring extensive rehabilitation and lifelong care.
  • Orthopedic Injuries — Orthopedic injuries, including fractures and dislocations, are frequent in accidents involving FMCSA violations. The force exerted in collisions with large trucks can cause bone fractures and joint dislocations, leading to pain, limited mobility, and the need for surgical interventions and rehabilitation.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries — Soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains are commonplace in these accidents. The sudden and forceful movements during a collision can cause damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons, resulting in pain, swelling, and prolonged recovery periods.
  • Internal Injuries — Internal injuries may also occur, especially in high-impact collisions. Blunt force trauma can cause damage to internal organs, leading to internal bleeding or organ dysfunction. These injuries may require immediate medical attention, surgical interventions, and ongoing monitoring.
  • Burn Injuries — Burn injuries are a significant risk, particularly in accidents involving hazardous materials that trucks transport. Explosions or fires can cause severe burns, requiring extensive medical treatment, surgeries, and long-term rehabilitation for victims.
  • Whiplash — Whiplash injuries are common due to the sudden deceleration in truck accidents. The rapid back-and-forth motion of the head and neck can cause whiplash, leading to neck pain, stiffness, and potential long-term complications.
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder — Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological injury that can result from the emotional trauma of a truck accident. Witnessing or experiencing a severe accident can lead to persistent anxiety, flashbacks, and difficulty coping with daily life, requiring mental health support and treatment.

Injuries resulting from accidents linked to truck drivers and trucking companies FMCSA violations are diverse and can range from traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries, and soft tissue injuries to internal injuries, burns, whiplash injuries, and PTSD.

The severity of these injuries underscores the importance of strict adherence to safety regulations to prevent accidents and safeguard the well-being of all road users.

How to Prove That an FMCSA Violation Caused a Trucking Accident

Proving that a truck driver or trucking company's FMCSA violation was the cause of a trucking accident involves a comprehensive examination of various elements to establish a clear and compelling connection.

Speeding violations by truck drivers

The first step is to gather evidence demonstrating the specific violation committed. This may involve obtaining records, such as driver log books, maintenance logs, or electronic monitoring data, to pinpoint any infractions related to service hours, vehicle maintenance, or other FMCSA regulations.

Eyewitness testimony can establish the link between the FMCSA violation and the accident.

Individuals who observed the incident or were present at the scene can provide:

  • Firsthand accounts of the events leading up to the accident
  • The conditions of the truck
  • The behavior of the driver

Their statements strengthen the narrative by providing additional perspectives on the violation and its repercussions.

Analyzing the truck's electronic control module (ECM) data is pivotal in determining factors such as speed, braking patterns, and engine performance leading up to the accident. This data offers objective insights into the circumstances surrounding a violation and its role in the collision.

Examining the truck's maintenance records is crucial, especially in mechanical failure cases. Suppose the accident resulted from a violation related to inadequate vehicle maintenance. In that case, these records may reveal a pattern of negligence, such as missed inspections, overdue repairs, or other lapses that directly contributed to the accident.

Professional opinions from professionals well-versed in FMCSA regulations and trucking safety standards can bolster the case. These professionals can analyze the gathered evidence, provide insights into the causal relationship between the violation and the accident, and offer testimony during legal proceedings.

Medical records of the involved parties, particularly the truck driver and other individuals injured in the accident, are essential. They can establish the extent of injuries, tying them directly to the circumstances of the collision and the FMCSA violation. This linkage between injuries and the violation is critical in proving causation.

Finally, legal representation is vital in navigating the complexities of proving causation in trucking accidents involving FMCSA violations.

A skilled attorney can leverage the gathered evidence, engage expert witnesses, and construct a compelling case to demonstrate the direct link between the violation and the accident occurrence, seeking justice and fair compensation for the victims.

Truck Accident Litigation

During the litigation stage of a truck accident claim or lawsuit involving FMCSA violations by a truck driver or trucking company, several important phases constitute the legal proceedings:

Serious Truck Accidents
  • One primary aspect is the presentation of evidence by both parties. The plaintiff, often the victim or their legal representation, gathers and presents evidence demonstrating the FMCSA violations, their connection to the accident, and the resulting damages. This evidence may include records, witness testimonies, professional opinions, and any documentation proving negligence by the truck driver or company.
  • Depositions play another pivotal role during litigation. Both sides can depose witnesses, including the truck driver, company representatives, and expert witnesses. These depositions involve oral testimony under oath, allowing attorneys to gather additional insights, clarify details, and assess the credibility of the individuals involved. Depositions contribute to developing a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the case.
  • Discovery procedures facilitate the exchange of information between parties, enabling a thorough examination of the evidence and legal arguments. Requests for documents, interrogatories, and other discovery tools help uncover relevant details, ensuring that both sides completely understand the case's complexities. This phase is essential in uncovering hidden FMCSA violations, establishing liability, and preparing for trial.
  • Either party may file pre-trial motions, seeking specific legal rulings or challenging certain aspects of the case. These motions can affect the trajectory of the litigation by addressing issues such as admissibility of evidence, dismissal of claims, or clarification of legal points. Skillful legal arguments during this stage can shape the legal landscape and influence the final judgment.
  • Negotiations and settlement discussions often occur as the litigation progresses. Both parties may engage in talks to explore settling without going to trial. These discussions may involve mediation or other alternative dispute-resolution methods. Achieving a settlement can offer a quicker resolution, potentially sparing both parties the time and costs associated with a full trial.
  • If the parties do not settle, the case proceeds to trial in court. During the trial, attorneys present their cases, witnesses testify, and the judge or jury examines the evidence, determines liability, assesses damages, and provides a resolution to the legal dispute.

Throughout the litigation stage, the involvement of legal professionals is crucial. Skilled attorneys navigate the complexities of the legal process, advocate for their clients, and strategically position their cases for the most favorable outcome.

The litigation stage is a dynamic process that demands careful preparation, effective communication, and the strategic utilization of legal mechanisms to secure justice for victims of truck accidents involving FMCSA violations.

Recovering Monetary Compensation for Injuries in a Truck Accident

Victims of commercial truck accidents resulting from FMCSA violations may be eligible for various damages, encompassing economic, non-economic, and punitive compensation.

Monetary Compensation

Economic damages are tangible losses with a clear monetary value. These include medical expenses incurred due to injuries sustained in the accident. Victims can seek compensation for hospital bills, surgeries, rehabilitation, medication, and other necessary medical treatments.

Lost earnings represent another significant economic damage. If the victim cannot work due to injuries from the truck accident, they can pursue compensation for income lost during the recovery period.

Additionally, loss of earning capacity may be compensable if the injuries result in a diminished ability to earn income. This considers the long-term repercussions on the victim's ability to pursue their chosen profession and earn a livelihood.

Non-economic damages address intangible losses that are challenging to quantify but equally consequential. Pain and suffering compensation aims to acknowledge the physical and emotional distress the victim has experienced. It considers the pain endured during and after the accident, along with the mental anguish resulting from the trauma.

Emotional distress, another type of non-economic compensation, is distinct from pain and suffering and focuses on the psychological effects of the accident. Victims may experience anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges, and compensation aims to address these intangible but significant hardships.

Furthermore, loss of consortium pertains to the effects on the victim's relationships. Suppose the injuries from the truck accident affect the victim's ability to provide companionship, support, or intimacy to their spouse. In that case, they may seek compensation for the resulting strain on the relationship.

Loss of life enjoyment is another non-economic damage, acknowledging the diminished ability to enjoy life's pleasures due to the injuries sustained. Victims may be eligible for compensation for the limitations imposed on their ability to engage in activities they once found fulfilling.

Finally, loss of use of a body part involves compensation for the impaired functionality or complete loss of a body part resulting from the truck accident. This encompasses both physical limitations and the emotional toll associated with the loss.

An accident victim may pursue punitive damages in cases where the trucking company's or driver's conduct is particularly egregious. Punitive damages punish the wrongdoer and deter reckless actions that violate FMCSA regulations and jeopardize public safety.

Victims of commercial truck accidents due to FMCSA violations may recover a range of damages, including economic compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, and loss of earning capacity.

Non-economic damages cover pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, loss of life enjoyment, and loss of use of a body part. In extreme cases, a victim may pursue punitive damages to penalize wrongdoers and discourage future negligence.

San Antonio Truck Accident Attorney
San Antonio Truck Accident Attorney, Paula A. Wyatt

Call a Truck Accident Lawyer Right Away

You are not alone if you suffered injuries in a recent commercial truck accident resulting from a truck driver's or trucking company's FMCSA violation.

A knowledgeable truck accident attorney in your area can investigate the circumstances surrounding the violation and file a personal injury claim or lawsuit on your behalf, seeking the financial recovery you deserve.


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