Commercial trucks saturate U.S. roadways.
Commercial trucks make up a large percentage of roadway traffic with interstate transport and local deliveries. It is unlikely that anyone who travels U.S. highways could go a long period of time without sharing the road with a commercial truck. The size and weight of a commercial truck, and the types of cargo loads they carry, increase dangerous conditions for other drivers when an accident occurs. According to the United States Department of Transportation Safety Administration, there are over 500,000 truck accidents every year involving multiple vehicles and causing highway fatalities, significant property damage and bodily injury.
Federal and state restrictions.
Commercial motor vehicles (CMV) have federal and state imposed restrictions due to size and weight categories, limiting roadways that include tunnels and bridges for instance, or disallowing hazardous cargo loads through heavily populated areas, and impose stringent rules for operators carrying commercial driver’s licenses (CDL). Safe driving can be impacted by negligent acts of drivers and trucking companies who may be party to violations of law.
Louisiana laws follows federal guidelines for all commercial motor vehicles subject to regulations of the United States Department of Transportation, 49 C.F.R. part 387, subpart A, and commercial trucks should carry insurance in an amount equivalent to the minimum levels of financial responsibility as set forth in those regulations to cover roadway accidents.
Louisiana has laws that can disqualify driving privileges of a commercial motor vehicle regardless of license class. A driver can be disqualified or suspended due to certain roadway incidents falling into:
- Serious violations that include speeding 15 or above over posted limits, following too closely, reckless operation, erratic lane changes, texting while driving or driving a CMV without the proper clearances and licensing.
- Railroad violations that include ignoring railroad crossing restrictions through device or enforcement officials, not slowing down or a complete failure to stop.
- Out-of-Service violations that violate a driver or vehicle out-of-service order while transporting non-hazardous materials or hazardous materials required to be placarded; and operating a vehicle designed to transport 18 or more passengers, including the driver.
Penalties for major violations.
A one year disqualification period is imposed if the operator (holding a Class A, B or C driver’s license or CLP) is convicted of DWI related actions; felony activities or leaving the scene of an accident in a CMV or non-CMV. A three year disqualification period is imposed if the violation /conviction involves hauling hazardous materials.
A one year disqualification period is imposed if the operator is convicted of negligent homicide; vehicular homicide; manslaughter; and driving a CMV when disqualified for a previous violation. A three year disqualification period is imposed for any of the above, if the violation / conviction involves hauling hazardous materials.
Limitations on road time.
Apart from CDL violation restrictions, drivers have limitations on road time for trucks carrying property cargo limiting maximum hours driven; minimum hours off duty; and required rest breaks.
Comparative fault for accidents.
Louisiana Civil Code 2323 regarding comparative fault addresses limitations in insurance and damages claims. The rule affects personal injury claims to the effect of reducing an accident victim’s claim in proportion to the percentage of his or her fault. This means, for example, that if you were 75% at fault, you could still recover 25% of your damages.
Hire a lawyer.
Contact Colonna Law Firm as soon as possible if you have been involved in a commercial truck accident that caused injuries and/or damages to your livelihood. They can build a case through their experience in civil injury law and strong investigative capabilities regarding evidence.
Colonna Law Firm
900 Ryan Street, Suite 402
Lake Charles, LA 70601
Tel: (337) 656-3212
Fax: (337) 385-5858
E-Mail: [email protected]