The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation regulate the trucking industry and its drivers. Many of the regulations the agencies enforce endeavor to make the industry safer, especially because truck drivers do their jobs around innocent motorists.
Without those safety precautions, the numbers of truck accidents could skyrocket. As it is, when a truck driver fails to follow existing regulations, it may create a situation in which a tragedy could occur. Because they are bigger and heavier than passenger vehicles and other, smaller commercial trucks, the injuries suffered by innocent drivers and passengers are often catastrophic.
What do the regulations say?
Examples of the regulations designed to make the trucking industry safer include the following:
- Truck drivers may only drive a certain number of hours before they must get rest and take breaks.
- Trucks may only contain a maximum number of pounds depending on the size of the truck.
- Truck drivers may only drive if they obtain a commercial driver's license.
- Trucks carrying hazardous materials must adhere to certain safety regulations.
- Trucks must meet certain mechanical and safety regulations.
These are not the only regulations truck drivers and trucking companies must follow, but they are the ones that most often come up after accidents. Many claims point to these regulations in order to show negligence on either the part of the driver or the company. Trucking companies can bear some liability in an accident caused by one of its drivers either directly or through vicarious liability. This legal theory holds an employer responsible for the actions of an employee while he or she performs the duties of a position.
What damages can you seek?
If you suffered injuries, or lost a loved one, in an accident a truck driver caused, you may be able to pursue the following damages in a personal injury or wrongful death claim:
- You might seek wages you lost as a result of not being able to work while you recover.
- You will probably incur significant medical expenses in the aftermath of the accident, and you may require medical care in the future depending on your injuries.
- Your injuries may deprive you of your ability to earn a living -- either all together or in your chosen profession.
- You might also seek damages for the pain and suffering caused by the accident.
- Your injuries could also change the nature of your relationship if you are married. The law recognizes this and allows damages for loss of companionship.
You might also seek special damages, which cover all of your financial losses connected to the accident. Requesting damages is only one part of your claim. Before a Pennsylvania court will consider awarding you damages, you must prove that negligence caused your injuries. You may benefit from enlisting some help with all aspects of your case.