What Happens When a Trucking Company Violates FMCSA Rules?

February 19, 2024 | Ed Bernstein
What Happens When a Trucking Company Violates FMCSA Rules?

Sometimes, the consequences when a trucking company violates FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) rules aren't that significant. The company will face a fine. In others, however, the results can be a horrifying accident that changes lives forever. Violations can lead to deadly crashes or injuries that cause permanent debilitation. When this happens, those responsible can face steep FMCSA penalties and millions of dollars in civil liability.

This article provides information on some of the more critical FMCSA rules and how they impact the safety of everyone on the road. You'll also discover how a truck accident lawyer in Las Vegas can assist in securing the compensation you deserve when a trucking company violates FMCSA rules. You suffer a severe injury as a result.

Essential FMCSA Rules for You to Know

What Happens When a Trucking Company Violates FMCSA Rules

The FMCSA aims to reduce truck accidents by mandating strict safety rules. Researchers estimate about 168,000 such accidents occur on our country's highways yearly. These wrecks lead to nearly 54,000 severe injuries and about 5,000 deaths.

Three critical FMCSA rules directly impact driver and vehicle safety. They address driver fatigue and vehicle maintenance and ensure only qualified drivers are behind these 80,000-pound machines. The following is a closer look at each.

Fighting Fatigued Driving

The FMCSA established hours of service (HOS) rules to combat the issue of driving while exhausted. Truck drivers face incredible pressures. They must deliver their loads on time or risk losing their jobs. Drivers will often go past their limits to save their way of life. As you might expect, this can be deadly.

FMCSA HOS rules state that a driver must be off at least ten hours before being on the road for 14 consecutive hours. If drivers have been behind the wheel for eight hours, they must take at least a 30-minute break. Drivers can't work 60 hours over seven days (or 70 hours over eight days) without being off for at least 34 consecutive hours.

There's no excuse for fatigued driving, which ranks high among the most significant factors contributing to truck accidents. No matter how compelling a driver's reasons might be, they can still face significant liability if they choose to get behind the wheel when exhausted and cause an accident.

Ensuring Trucks Don't Pose Safety Risks

Ensuring Trucks Don't Pose Safety Risks

Imagine sharing the road with a car you know had worn-out tires or brakes that needed repair or replacement. Imagine being near a vehicle weighing 40 times more than yours with those same issues. That's a terrifying thought.

Unfortunately, it occurs far too often in our country. According to professionals, trucks with defects are three times more likely to cause an accident.

The FMCSA tries to reduce instances of trucks being on the road that shouldn't be. That's why it mandates strict maintenance rules. Trucks must properly operate tires, brakes, lights, wipers, etc. Drivers must complete reports detailing how these and other components work at the end of every working day. If the driver reports a problem, the trucking company must take that truck out of service and perform any necessary repairs or replacements.

Suppose your accident occurred due to the failure of a trucking company to adhere to FMCSA rules regarding vehicle maintenance. In that case, you can sue that company for significant money.

Only Qualified Drivers Allowed

Professionals estimate the US will face a shortage of 160,000 truck drivers by the decade's end. Trucking companies already need help finding qualified drivers. As the problem worsens, so will their desperation.

FMCSA rules mandate that drivers have the required skills to operate these complex vehicles. If a trucking company cuts corners to hire drivers, and an unqualified driver causes an accident resulting in a fatality or severe injury, the trucking company can face a lawsuit.

The Consequences of Violating FMCSA Rules

When a trucking company violates FMCSA rules and someone suffers harm, that company will face severe administrative penalties. The FMCSA establishes a fine schedule to serve as a financial deterrent. When a trucking company pays this penalty, it shows other companies that violating FMCSA rules involves a heavy financial penalty.

If, for example, a motor carrier continues to operate after being placed out of service due to an FMCSA rating of "unsatisfactory," that company can face a daily fine of more than $32,000. Companies may also face criminal charges, depending on the nature and severity of the violations.

But the consequences don't stop there. When a truck accident lawyer files a lawsuit for violations that cause severe injuries or death, the trucking company can lose millions of dollars.

How an Attorney Can Use FMCSA Rules Violations Against a Trucking Company

How an Attorney Can Use FMCSA Rules Violations Against a Trucking Company

FMCSA rules violations aren't just regulatory technicalities. They can also be potent pieces of evidence in a truck accident lawsuit. Attorneys can use violations to establish a clear link between an accident and the trucking company's negligence. This link can make winning an accident victim's case much more likely.

Suppose a company has a history of violating FMCSA rules; that makes proving negligence even more straightforward. An attorney can use these violations to construct a compelling case that holds the company accountable for its actions. They can show the accident wasn't just unfortunate; it was a preventable tragedy caused by the company's conscious disregard for safety standards.

Establishing the company violated FMCSA rules can profoundly impact your case. The court will likely look much more favorably on your case and be more willing to award you compensation for the medical expenses, lost income, emotional distress, and other damages you've incurred for the company's negligence.

Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer

But even if the trucking company violated FMCSA rules – and has a pattern of doing so – you won't automatically get the money you have coming. You'll need a skilled truck accident attorney to obtain fair compensation. These are just some of the many ways your lawyer will help.

Protecting Your Rights

Attorneys staunchly defend victims' rights. They understand the legal terrain and ensure that clients receive fair treatment throughout the legal proceedings. From the initial stages of filing a claim to representing clients in court, attorneys always act in their client's best interests.

Experience in FMCSA Regulations

The nuances of FMCSA regulations can be daunting. Attorneys bring a wealth of experience to the table, understanding the intricacies of these regulations and how they apply to specific cases. This knowledge is instrumental in identifying potential violations and strategically using them to strengthen your position in seeking compensation.

Identifying Potential Violations

One of the critical roles of a truck accident attorney is to identify potential FMCSA rules committed by the trucking company involved in the accident. Through meticulous investigation and analysis, attorneys can pinpoint instances where the company deviated from safety standards, providing crucial evidence to support the victim's case.

Assessing the Impact of Violations on the Case

Not all violations carry the same weight in a legal context. Attorneys assess the impact of identified violations on the overall case. They strategically prioritize the most relevant violations to establish the trucking company's negligence and liability.

Strengthening Your Position

By leveraging FMCSA violations, attorneys craft a legal strategy that strengthens your case and increases the chances you will realize a successful outcome in your case. These violations can help build a compelling case underscoring the trucking company's disregard for safety regulations.

How Evidence Can Win Your Case

Your attorney must prove the trucking company violated FMCSA rules and the violation caused the accident leading to your injury. The strength of your case will hinge on the quality of the evidence presented.

By presenting comprehensive evidence, your truck attorney lawyer can establish a clear link between the trucking company's negligence (as shown by its violation of FMCSA rules) and the accident.

Another way your attorney can use the evidence is by calling upon expert witnesses. Lawyers routinely work with skilled accident reconstructionist and other professionals to meticulously reconstruct the events leading to the accident. They also enlist professional testimony to validate their findings, providing the court with a comprehensive understanding of the incident's circumstances.

Why Time is of the Essence When Hiring a Truck Accident Attorney

Why Time is of the Essence When Hiring a Truck Accident Attorney

Gathering that evidence requires a prompt investigation. Hiring a lawyer immediately can significantly affect your case's outcome. These are just some reasons why the investigation needs to begin as quickly as possible.

Preservation of Evidence

Prompt action by attorneys ensures the preservation of crucial evidence. Skid marks, vehicle damage, and other perishable evidence can fade or be lost. Attorneys act swiftly to secure and document evidence before it becomes compromised.

Witness Testimonies and Memories

Witnesses' memories fade over time, and securing their testimonies promptly is crucial. Lawyers work to interview witnesses, document their accounts, and preserve their memories while they are still fresh and accurate.

From filing claims to initiating legal action, legal processes require timely execution. Your attorney can expedite these processes, maximizing every opportunity for justice and helping you move forward with your life after your case reaches a fair resolution.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies 

The insurance company covering the carrier that violated FMCSA rules will fight tenaciously to protect its policy. They will do so because that policy can be worth one million dollars or more. Truck accidents typically cause horrible injuries that cost significant money to treat. That's why the stakes are so high in these cases.

Your truck accident attorney will negotiate to secure a fair settlement for you. Negotiating with insurance companies demands finesse and a nuanced understanding of the legal landscape. Your attorneys will fight to ensure your settlement is fair.

Assertive Negotiations

Attorneys bring a strategic approach to negotiations, asserting the rightful claims of their clients. They engage with insurance adjusters, presenting a compelling case supported by evidence, FMCSA violations, and professional testimony. The goal is to secure a fair and just settlement that adequately compensates the victim.

In cases where negotiations fail to achieve a satisfactory resolution, attorneys are prepared to take legal action. They file lawsuits on behalf of their clients, initiating the legal process to seek justice in the courtroom.

What to Expect During a Trial

If your case should go to trial, your truck accident lawyer will be well prepared to argue your case in court. In the vast majority of instances, insurers eventually offer victims equitable settlements. Doing so is in their best interests because they risk losing even more money by going to court.

But there are some rare cases where both sides must fight in a courtroom. If that happens, you can rest assured you will have the truth on your side. Your truck accident attorney will have gone to great lengths to back your argument with solid facts.

They can also use the testimony of the expert witnesses mentioned earlier. These professionals know how to explain complicated concepts in a way non-specialists can understand. These are a few expert witnesses who may testify in your trial.

  • Skilled accident reconstructionist can show how the accident occurred. They analyze physical evidence to recreate the events leading to the crash. They also consider factors like speed, braking, acceleration, and steering to understand how the vehicles involved in the accident behaved.
  • Medical physicians testify regarding the severity of a victim's injury. They use their medical knowledge to show what kind of treatment you'll need and how much it will cost.
  • Economics specialists can show the impact of your injury on your ability to work. They can tell the court how much money you're losing in lost income and how much you'll lose in the future if you can't go back to your job.

Learn More By Contacting a Truck Accident Attorney

If a trucking company's violation of FMCSA rules led to your injury, a skilled personal injury attorney becomes your best ally to secure fair compensation. You need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible, enabling them to initiate a fight for your rights and diligently pursue the compensation you deserve.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.