Updated on: 6/24/2020
Truck drivers and those who drive other commercial vehicles are held to a higher standard of care (SOC) than a driver of a private passenger vehicle. Establishing the standard of care that a truck driver is subject to can be key to the successful resolution of a bodily injury claim after a serious trucking accident.
With trucking accidents, the accepted standard of care is set by the state and federal regulations that a truck driver is expected and/or required to meet in order to be in compliance with the law. If a truck driver fails to comply with these regulations, they (and their employer) may be held legally responsible for injuries or death that could result in the event of a serious trucking crash.
Types Of Trucks Regulated By U.S. DOT
Not all commercial trucks are subject to the rules and regulations governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). If a vehicle weighs 26,001 lbs. or more, anyone driving the vehicle will be required to carry a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), and the vehicle, driver, and trucking company which owns the vehicle are subject to DOT regulations.
Examples: Large 18-wheelers, tractor-trailer combination trucks, etc.
If a vehicle weighs 10,001 lbs. or more and is being used for a commercial purpose, it will also fall under the DOT regulations. Vehicles in this class will not necessarily require drivers to carry a CDL, but the safety requirements and other important regulations will still apply.
Examples: Large box truck, tow truck, landscaping truck, etc.
These trucks may also be subject to different regulations at the Washington state level as well as the aforementioned federal regulations. If you have been injured in an accident with a large truck or commercial vehicle, it’s important to determine as early as possible whether the truck involved is subject to these regulations as soon as possible. A qualified trucking accident lawyer can help you conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, determine liability, and protect your legal rights.
Important Trucking Safety Regulations
If a truck meets the criteria to be subject to state and federal transportation regulations, there are a few key requirements that can come into play in the event of a trucking accident claim or lawsuit:
Hours Of Service Rules
Studies show that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or drugs. To reduce drowsy driving among those drivers who are in control of the largest and most destructive trucks on the roadway, truck drivers are required to keep a detailed log of their hours on the road, as well as any breaks they take to break up those hours.
If a driver is found to have forged a service log or otherwise failed to adhere to the hours-of-service limits, negligence against the truck driver and trucking company can be much easier to prove. The team of attorneys at Davis Law Group have extensive experience analyzing hours-of-service logs and determining a violation exists which may constitute negligence.
Pre-Trip Responsibilities For Semi-Trucks
Young drivers learn early on about the proactive steps they should take before starting up and driving a vehicle - checking for flat tires, adjusting mirrors, and so on. But the law does not necessarily require that regular motorists do this every time before they drive, and a driver would not likely be held to that standard in court in the event they caused an accident.
But when it comes to driving a semi-truck or other large commercial truck regulated by the U.S Department of Transportation, truck drivers are required to complete a standardized pre-trip inspection. During early job training, all truck drivers are quizzed repeatedly about the pre-trip inspection and the checklist that must be completed every single time before they begin a trip. Failure to properly complete the pre-trip inspection could allow underlying mechanical issues or failures to turn into a serious or even fatal trucking accident.
Because federal laws dictate that trucking companies have an employer-employee relationship with their drivers, trucking companies cannot shield themselves from liability by claiming drivers are independent contractors. This means they can be held liable if one of their drivers fails to complete the pre-trip inspection which results in a serious accident.
What To Do After A Trucking Accident In Washington
It is likely in the best interest of anyone injured in a Washington trucking crash to consult with the team of attorneys at Davis Law Group about their legal rights and options. We offer free legal consultations to accident victims, so there are no strings attached and you owe nothing until we successfully recover money on your behalf.
Call our office in Seattle at (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page to get in touch with our legal team today. We will help you make the best decision for your case and determine if hiring an attorney would increase the chances of a successful outcome.