Truck accident victims need to understand there are federal rules which can affect their rights. Truck accidents are different from car accidents because of the federal regulations that apply to most big-rig truck drivers and most tractor-trailer accidents within the state of Florida.
How Do Federal Rules Affect Victims of Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations apply to protect the public from dangerous truck drivers and poorly maintained trucks. FMCSRs affect many different aspects of running a trucking company and driving a truck. There are rules for how trucks have to be maintained, for inspecting trucks for safety, for loading trucks, and for the number of hours each driver can operate trucks. These rules are strictly enforced and drivers and trucking companies have to keep maintenance records, logs of on-duty time, and other records to show compliance.
The fact there are so many federal rules on truck operations and maintenance can be very helpful to truck crash victims. After a crash, victims have the burden of proving another driver was liable if the victim wants to recover compensation. This involves proving negligence. When any FMCSRs are violated, the victim can point to the violation to create the presumption the trucker and/or trucking company was negligent and thus should be held responsible for an accident. The trucker or trucking company would have to rebut this presumption. The burden of proving an injury case thus becomes easier for truck crash victims. Victims need to ensure all of the circumstances of their truck accident and all of the rules have been carefully reviewed to identify whether any violations happened.
Victims can also obtain records and documents from trucking companies during the discovery process in a truck accident case. The evidence obtained can be used to help prove negligence. There are typically many more helpful records available for truck crash victims to use in proving the case than there are in other types of crash cases because average drivers don't have to do things like record the amount of time they have been driving on each trip.
In addition to FMCSRs making it easier for crash victims to prove their case, federal regulations also help to ensure there is enough money to pay to fully compensate crash victims. FMCSR 387.9 mandates trucks have $750,000 minimum in liability insurance coverage. If the truck is one which transports HAZMAT material, the minimum coverage could rise as high as $5 million. Since Florida doesn't even require drivers to carry personal injury liability insurance coverage for most accidents, the fact trucks have to be so heavily insured is a major benefit to victims because it guarantees there will be enough money available to pay out a settlement or jury verdict if the victim successfully makes an injury claim.