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Laws That Govern Trucking in Tennessee

— August 11, 2022

To operate a semi or tractor trailer, one must have a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Memphis, TN – Most drivers know what to do in case of a minor collision, but what do you do if you’re in a truck accident? The trucking industry is heavily regulated and both drivers and their employers must abide by the rules set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If you’re in a truck accident and need to file a personal injury suit you should be aware of all these regulations as they will impact the outcome of your claim.

Let’s have a look at the regulations that might come into play when your Memphis truck accident lawyers examine your case to determine who may be liable for damages.

Hours of Service (HoS) 

Since driver fatigue is a factor in many truck accidents, the FMCSA limits the number of hours a trucker can be on the road to 11 hours in 24 hours. Technically, a trucker can be on duty for 14 hours straight, a period that includes the time needed to inspect the vehicle, deal with the paperwork and prepare for the trip. Once he gets on the road, he must take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of continuous driving. After 11 hours on the road, the trucker must rest for 10 hours.

If there’s any suspicion the trucker in your case was drowsy at the time of the crash, your attorneys will request access to the data on the driver’s log, which can be an electronic device or an old-fashioned paper diary. At the same time, your lawyers will want to see the driver’s schedule for the previous week, as truckers are not allowed to drive for more than 60 hours in 7 days.

If it turns out the employer encouraged the driver to violate HoS regulations to deliver the cargo faster, the company can be held accountable for your financial losses. 

Vehicle maintenance

Trucks in mechanics bays for service; image by Carlos Daniel, via
Trucks in mechanics bays for service; image by Carlos Daniel, via

Blown tires and faulty brakes are among the most common causes of truck accidents in the Memphis area. If there was a mechanical failure involved, seasoned Tennessee truck accident lawyers may call in independent experts to examine the vehicle. You need to act fast and get your attorneys on the case before the company takes the truck into service to fix the problem. 

The trucker is required to inspect the vehicle before going on a trip, but there’s only so much he can do. The trucking company is responsible for vehicle maintenance and regular inspections of each truck. The problem is trucking companies don’t like to waste time having the vehicle checked out thoroughly or money replacing costly parts. According to the FMCSA, many of the trucks operating in the US are not roadworthy. Estimates vary between 10 and 50%, which is huge. 

Your lawyers will subpoena the trucking company asking them to preserve all the maintenance records to see when was the truck last checked and what repairs were carried out. If the company did not comply with federal regulations it will be liable for damages.

Trucker’s qualification and training

To operate a semi or tractor trailer, one must have a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). An employer must check on that, but also on the driver’s record, to see whether he has any prior traffic-related offenses.

At the same time, trucking companies must subject all employees to random drug and alcohol tests. Any trucker who tests positive must be suspended from duty and referred to counseling. If the trucker that hit you was drunk, your lawyers will want to know whether his employer was aware he had a drinking problem.

Also, trucking companies must provide adequate training to their new employees. Just because a 20-year-old guy has a CDL in his pocket, this doesn’t mean you can put him in charge of an 80,000 lbs big rig loaded with toxic materials without proper training. 

Failure to follow these rules constitutes negligence, and you can file a claim against the trucking company. 

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