The interstate trucking industry is regulated by local, state, and federal law. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces compliance with these regulations by tracking reported safety violations. While many safety violations are issued for minor equipment defects and record-keeping inconsistencies, a company’s history can provide evidence of reckless corporate practice and negligent driving.
The Most Common Interstate Trucking Safety Violations
The FMCSA recently implemented its nationwide Compliance, Safety, and Accountability program to enforce transportation regulations and maintain safe roads. Here are the most common CSA violations.
Hours of Service Violations
The FMCSA has pre-defined “hours of service,” which refer to the maximum amount of time that semi-truck drivers are permitted to be on duty. The government hours of service activities include:
- Driving a vehicle
- Performing pre-trip and post-trip inspections
- Mandatory rest stops and break times
Drivers can only spend up to 14 hours per day on duty and are statutorily prohibited from working more than 60 hours over seven consecutive days. When companies pressure their employees to meet a time-sensitive deadline or take “one last load,” drivers could exceed their hours of service.
Transportation logistics are required by law to maintain records relating to:
- Received and fulfilled cargo tenders and load awards
- Regular vehicle inspections
- Regular vehicle maintenance
- Emergency repairs
- Personnel, including verifying drivers’ licenses and drug and alcohol test results
Under certain, rare circumstances, logistics companies can be audited and compelled to share their company maintenance and personnel records. If these records aren’t consistent, appear hastily assembled, or are fraudulent, the company may have violated its record-keeping responsibilities.
Poor Equipment Maintenance
Semi-trucks must be kept in good repair. The FMCSA recommends—and in some cases, requires—that tractor-trailer components be actively maintained.
Companies must also take measures to address complaints from both employees and the public. If a semi-truck driver complains that their tires’ tread is low or that they’ve experienced braking problems, the company must investigate and mitigate the potentially dangerous condition.
Failure to Administer Medical and Drug Tests
Federal law requires that trucking companies regularly:
- Administer medical and eyesight examinations to over-the-road drivers
- Test drivers for drug and alcohol abuse, both at set intervals and randomly throughout the year
Semi-truck drivers don’t have to be fluent in English. However, they must be able to comprehend and speak enough English to understand road signs, communicate danger, and answer law enforcement questions.
Nevertheless, many companies employ drivers who speak limited English and who cannot properly assist law enforcement or first responders in the event of an emergency.
Establishing Liability After a Seattle-Area Truck Accident
The FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability regulations can identify problematic employment and driving practices.
Since truck driver negligence is often the result of poor corporate practices, accident-related lawsuits might involve multiple defendants. A defendant could be the semi-truck driver, the trucking company, or another entity whose negligence caused or contributed to the accident.
The most common defendants in an 18-wheeler lawsuit include:
- The semi-truck driver
- The trucking company
- A freight brokerage
- A cargo shipper or receiver
- A mechanic or repair shop
- An automotive parts manufacturer
- The truck manufacturer
Since Washington state law affords semi-truck accident victims the legal right to file a claim for compensation against the parties that caused their accident, they can receive as much money as they need to begin rebuilding their lives. However, your rights to a legal recovery could be contingent on the actions you take after an accident.
How to Protect Your Rights After a Washington Semi-Truck Collision
Trucking companies and their insurance carriers frequently try to offload their own liability, even if it means depriving an accident victim of a fair settlement.
If you or a loved one was injured in a Seattle-area commercial vehicle accident that wasn’t your fault, protect your rights to a legal recovery by taking the following steps:
- Call 911. Washington state law requires motorists to report any accident involving physical injury, death, or significant property damage. While law enforcement can’t always establish fault at the crash site, a police report could serve as an important reference point in insurance negotiations.
- Seek immediate medical attention. You should always see a physician after a large truck accident, even if you don’t believe you’re seriously injured. Many crash-related injuries don’t present symptoms right away, so a doctor will help identify, diagnose, and treat any emergent conditions. Additionally, prompt medical attention shows the insurance company that you have legitimate concerns about your physical well-being after the crash.
- Collect evidence. If you don’t require emergency medical treatment, try to collect evidence from the accident site. This might include photographs of your vehicle damage, physical injuries, and the crash scene, and a recorded recollection of the events leading up to the collision.
- Contact an attorney. Numerous studies have shown that semi-truck collision victims who hire an experienced commercial vehicle accident attorney are more likely to secure compensation than collision victims who try to represent themselves. A truck accident attorney will help you collect and analyze the evidence needed to prevail in court, interview eyewitnesses, and negotiate compensation.
Your Potential Damages After a Semi-Truck Crash
After experiencing injuries in a Seattle-area truck crash that wasn’t your fault, Max Meyers Law could help you recover damages for:
- Your past, present, and anticipated medical expenses
- Physical rehabilitation
- Reconstructive surgery
- Lost income from work
- Lost vacation time and paid time off
- Diminished earning potential
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
While the Evergreen State doesn’t limit the damages available to most personal injury plaintiffs, it still has a strict statute of limitations that stipulate you have a limited time to initiate a civil claim against a negligent semi-truck driver or trucking company. If you wait too long to contact a Seattle truck accident attorney, the court could dismiss your claim on a technicality.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington Truck Accident? Schedule a Free Consultation
Attorney Max Meyers works with victims of Washington commercial vehicle accidents, helping them get the compensation they deserve. Working with a Bothell semi-truck accident attorney provides you with a whole set of additional resources and skills that, in the end, improve your chances of a more generous settlement. Having an attorney will also give you much greater peace of mind knowing the legal piece is being covered while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
If you've suffered injuries from an auto accident, contact our offices today or call us at 425-428-6052 to schedule a free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout Bothell, Kirkland, and the surrounding areas.