Are There Special Laws That Apply to Truck Accident Cases in Texas?
In any auto accident case, the question of who was at fault will be a big part of getting damages through a lawsuit or insurance claim. In many cases, fault is determined by looking at whether either driver violated any traffic laws and blaming the accident on the driver who broke the law. There are some special laws that apply to truck drivers that could potentially help you prove fault in a truck accident case.
Truckers and the trucking companies they work for are held to higher standards under some state traffic laws, such as drunk driving laws. These drivers and their trucking companies are also required to follow federal and state regulations for truckers, such as the FMCSA’s hours of service rules. Violations of these rules could help determine fault in a truck accident case.
If you were injured in a truck accident, contact the Dallas truck accident attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm. Call us at (817) 476-1797 for a free case evaluation.
Special Traffic Laws for Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies in Texas
Some traffic laws are specifically written to constrain truck drivers and trucking companies. Trucks are much larger and heavier than most other cars on the road, so there are special rules for licensing drivers and operating this kind of machinery. They are all aimed at helping to keep others safe on the road. And since these rules are intended to keep others safe, violations of these rules could help show fault in a truck accident case.
One of the simplest differences for traffic laws surrounding trucking are different licensing requirements. Commercial truck drivers are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which has different training standards than a typical Class C driver’s license. CDLs come in different classes for different combined gross weights of the vehicle the driver will be operating, with tractor-trailers usually fitting into a Class A CDL.
Drunk Driving Legal Limit
Truckers are also held to a higher standard for DUI/DWI law in Texas. Any driver with a CDL can be charged and arrested for drunk driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04% or higher. Typically, the “legal limit” for other, non-commercial drivers is .08%, making this a stricter rule to prevent dangerous driving by professional drivers. If a commercial driver caused a truck accident with a BAC over .04% but still under .08%, that could be used against them in court to help prove they were at fault.
Other Miscellaneous Laws
Other laws might create minor differences in driving requirements for truckers as well. Some examples are local traffic signs that prohibit trucks from entering certain roads, different speed limits for trucks, and weigh stations on highways that truckers must stop at.
Trucking Regulations to Protect Other Drivers in Texas
The FMCSA – the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – also writes rules for truckers that must be followed across the country. The State of Texas may also have some similar rules, but many areas are already covered by the FMCSA.
Hours of Service Rules
Truckers are only permitted to drive for a certain number of days in a row, a certain number of hours in a day, and a certain number of hours in a row. Required break times help ensure that drivers are fresh and not too worn out after hours on the road. Since tired driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving – and one of the leading causes of serious accidents – these regulations are certainly intended to protect other drivers on the road. Your Houston truck accident lawyer might be able to use violations of these rules to help prove fault in your case.
The FMCSA limits truck drivers to either a 7- or 8-day work schedule, during which they can only drive a total of 60 or 70 hours, respectively. They must take a 34-hour off-duty break in between. Drivers also must take 30-minute breaks every 8 hours of driving and cannot stay on duty for more than 14 hours (including breaks) without a 10-hour off-duty period. During those 14 hours, they cannot drive for more than 11 hours total.
Health and Medical Requirements
Truckers are also held to strict medical standards. Failing to complete a physical or get approval to drive makes truckers ineligible for commercial driving, and trucking companies can be held responsible for accidents caused by ineligible drivers.
Most of these health and safety standards are aimed at making sure that drivers have good vision and hearing and that they do not have disabilities that make it harder to operate a vehicle. This typically disqualifies drivers with vision loss, disabilities that reduce control over their limbs, or epilepsy. Insulin use is also a disqualifying factor, so many diabetic truck drivers – who could become light-headed or tired without proper treatment – are also disqualified.
Weight and Cargo Rules
Tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers cannot have a gross vehicle weight of more than 80,000 pounds without special permits. Most commercial trucks will not have these special permits and thus cannot have a vehicle weighing more than 80,000 pounds. If the vehicle goes over this weight restriction, the trucker and the trucking company could be in trouble for any accidents they cause.
Cargo must also be properly secured following certain rules. Tie-downs and straps for open-bed trucks have certain requirements, and cargo secured inside a truck must also follow certain rules in some cases. These rules ensure that cargo does not shift during transit, which could cause the truck’s trailer to shift and sway. Loading a truck safely also means distributing weight properly along the length of the trailer to prevent fishtailing and jackknifing, which can cause the truck to crash even at moderate speeds.
Call Our Truck Accident Lawyers in Texas for Help with Your Case
After a truck accident, you may need help getting compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The Queenan Law Firm’s Fort Worth truck accident attorneys are here to help. Call (817) 476-1797 today for a free case evaluation.