Federal Law – Commercial Vehicle Accidents


If your accident involved a tractor-trailer or other commercial vehicle, you must also review and apply all additional state laws that govern commercial drivers, all training materials for commercial driver’s license testing, and all federal law imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Commercial drivers who never leave the state are not subject to the federal regulations. However, if the driver carries a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which would be indicated on your police report, he or she will be subject to stricter laws governing vehicle equipment and safety standards and driver conduct. These laws impose higher standards of care on commercial drivers and on the businesses that own and operate commercial vehicles.

If your accident involved a motor carrier or long-haul truck driver, he or she will be subject to all state laws and also to the strict rules imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These federal laws are extremely complex. Careful application of these rules can help you to bring in hidden defendants and help you show all of the legal violations that led to your collision. Legal duties imposed by the FMCSRs govern driver training, driver qualification, truck equipment standards, truck maintenance and inspection standards, driver hours-in-service limits to avoid fatigue, proper loading of large trucks, cell phone prohibitions, stricter DWI standards, inclement weather driving prohibition, and more strict traffic laws that must be followed by commercial drivers.

For a list of the most common federal regulations involved in truck and commercial vehicle accident cases, see chapter 8 and the discussion of the unique aspects involved in handling tractor-trailer and commercial truck collision cases.

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