Proving Liability in an 18-Wheeler Wreck: Our Truck Accident Attorneys in Springfield, IL Explain Common FMCSA Violations
Motor vehicle accidents can result in serious personal injuries or the wrongful death of an innocent person. This is particularly true in crashes with large commercial vehicles like semi-tractor trailers, big rigs, and other trucks. Fortunately, most of the common causes of trucking accidents can be prevented by truck drivers and trucking companies who exercise reasonable care, follow Illinois state law, and comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. Most times just following these basic obligations can prevent needless harm to others on or around the roads. However, the experienced truck accident attorneys in Springfield at the Noll Law Office know that this is not always the case with truck drivers, particularly when it comes to FMCSA violations.
That’s because far too many truck drivers and trucking companies cut corners in their operations to increase their profits – often at your expense. Whether that is driving longer hours on tighter schedules, overloading vehicles, not making safety repairs, or saving money in other ways, dangerous conduct by truck drivers and trucking companies can cause preventable accidents in Illinois. This is why the FMCSA has enacted a comprehensive matrix of federal regulations which govern the conduct of truck drivers and trucking companies. Many of these FMCSA regulations pertain to safety and carry stiff penalties when truck drivers, trucking companies, maintenance shops, and other entities choose to ignore them.
As a result of this, FMCSA violations can also be used against a defendant in a trucking accident case in Illinois to help victims recover compensation for their conscious pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. With the help of experienced trucking accident lawyers in Springfield, Illinois at the Noll Law Office, victims and their families can obtain the compensation they need to move forward after a catastrophic truck wreck.
What are FMCSA Regulations?
Traffic laws and regulations have two main functions. The first is to create an orderly process of driving a vehicle on the roadways. The second is to ensure that the process is safe. That’s why many Illinois traffic laws have safety in mind. But this is not just statutory law, which is made through the formal rulemaking process of the legislature, but also FMCSA regulations.
These regulations are made by a highly-specialized agency that has enhanced knowledge and experience in this area. The majority of these regulations have safety in mind and govern the safe operation of motor vehicles. The regulations are extensive and cover numerous different facets of driving a truck. Nearly any truck accident will invoke some component of the FMCSA regulations.
The FMCSA regulations also apply no matter what state the truck driver or trucking company is in, licensed from, driving to, driving from, or presently traveling in. That means that, unlike state laws, the FMCSA regulations always apply to truck drivers and trucking companies. Thus, these regulations create the minimum conduct that must be adhered to.
What are the Most Common FMCSA Violations?
There are many different types of FMCSA that could result in a trucking wreck in Illinois. The most common violation is a violation of the relevant vehicle and traffic laws that the truck is driving within. This includes traffic offenses such as speeding, running a red light, reckless driving, and other related conduct.
Some of the most common types of FMCSA violations include the following:
Hours of Service Violations
Also known as a HOS violation, the FMCSA sets forth very specific driving rules for truck drivers and trucking companies. These rules are aimed at preventing fatigued driving, which can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Under FMCSA regulations for a property-carrying vehicle, truck drivers must comply with these HOS rules requiring them to:
- Be on-duty for a maximum of 14 consecutive hours
- Be off-duty for a minimum of 10 consecutive hours
- Drive for a maximum of 8 cumulative hours before taking at least a 30-minute break
- Drive for a maximum of 60 hours in a consecutive 7-day period
- Drive for a maximum of 70 hours in a consecutive 8-day period, and
- Comply with other fact-specific HOS rules.
A truck driver that violates these rules and causes a trucking wreck may have committed a HOS violation that could be used to help injured victims recover compensation. An experienced truck accident lawyer in Springfield, Illinois can help victims recover that compensation.
Alcohol and Drug-Related Violations
The FMCSA carries some of the strictest alcohol and drug-related violations of any body of law. For instance, the FMCSA prohibits a truck driver from having any BAC above 0.0, whereas Illinois state law sets the threshold at .08 BAC. However, the FMCSA takes it one step further and actually prohibits a truck driver from having any alcoholic drink within 4 hours of starting a shift.
Whereas for drugs, the FMCSA regulations prohibit the use of certain illegal and legal drugs which may render a driver incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. This includes prescribed medications that could affect a person’s ability to operate a truck.
Any violation of the FMCSA regulations on alcohol and drug prohibitions could result in serious personal injuries and be used to help prove a truck accident lawsuit in Illinois.
Disabled Trucks and Emergency Flashers
Despite the fact that most commercial vehicles are very large, they can be deceptively hard to see at night, during inclement weather, or at times when they may blend into the surroundings. This is why FMCSA regulations require a stopped or disabled truck to immediately turn on emergency flashes. If a truck may be in the location for more than 10 minutes, a truck driver must also place warning devices (usually cones or flares) at certain lengths behind the truck.
The failure to place these safety devices or even just turn on the emergency hazards could be a violation of the FMCSA regulations. If an innocent vehicle collides with a disabled truck in violation of this section, even if the truck is not moving or is on the shoulder/off-road, the truck driver may still be partially liable for the crash.
Use of Hand-Held Cell Phones
Distracted driving is a serious threat to the safety of our roadways. That is why many states, including Illinois, have cell phone statutes prohibiting the use of a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. But, because not all states have these laws, the FMCSA regulations have established rules which prohibit a truck driver from using a cell phone while operating a commercial vehicle.
This includes texting, making a call, checking email, playing a game, looking at a map or the weather, or otherwise using the device in a manner that transmits or receives data. Any truck driver that uses a cell phone while operating a truck and causes a trucking accident could be liable for a crash.
Other Common FMCSA Violations
Some of the other common FMCSA violations that can cause trucking accidents include the following:
- Driving during inclement weather and not slowing or stopping
- Driving without a CDL license
- Unrealistic delivery schedules
- Failure to properly inspect cargo before and during a delivery
- Failure to inspect a vehicle and its equipment, including tires, brakes, steering columns, and lights
- Defective or poorly maintained equipment
- Improper securement devices, and
- Other common FMCSA violations that could result in a trucking accident that the personal injury lawyers at the Noll Law Office could handle for you.
Can I Use an FMCSA Violation to Prove My Truck Accident Case in Illinois?
Yes, a victim injured in a trucking accident occurring in Illinois can use federal regulations to help prove a case. This is under the doctrine of negligence per se, which allows a victim to use the violation of a regulation as evidence of negligence against a defendant.
Further, a truck accident victim can also use the number of violations against a driver or trucking company to show the lack of reasonable care exercised by the defendants. This can help demonstrate to a trier of fact, often a jury, that the defendants were negligent or even grossly negligent in the use or operation of their motor vehicle.
How Can the Noll Law Office Help Prove My Case Involving FMCSA Violations?
Unlike other personal injury law firms, the compassionate and experienced truck accident lawyers at the Noll Law Office will handle your case from start to finish. They do not refer cases out across Illinois to junior associates, but rather work in-house with a team of dedicated staff to help prove your case. That means you are treated like a valued customer, not just another file number in an assembly line.
If you or a loved one were seriously injured, or if a loved one was wrongfully killed, in any type of trucking accident in Illinois, call the truck accident lawyers at the Noll Law Office by dialing (217) 414-8889 or by using the “Contact Us” box available here. They offer FREE consultations and case evaluations with a skilled and experienced attorney. If you hire them and if they accept your case, there are also no upfront costs to begin your case. Their lawyer fees are also not paid until you get paid, meaning there is a no-win, no-fee guarantee. To get started, contact them today.