Collisions can be devastating for everyone involved, especially when the accident involves a commercial truck. These accidents tend to cause more damage and serious injuries than other types of accidents, which is why there are many regulations in place to minimize the likelihood of an accident. Commercial truck drivers need to keep these state and federal laws in mind as they conduct business on the road. Here is a look at the trucking laws and regulations in Indiana.
Any driver who is operating a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of over 26,000 pounds has to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To obtain a CDL, you have to have a valid Indiana operator’s license, a Social Security number, and be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or qualify for a non-domiciled CDL. You also have to pass a DOT physical examination and provide the BMV with a Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Medical Examination Report. In addition, you must obtain a commercial driver’s license learner’s permit and pass an examination in a vehicle class for the truck you plan to operate.
CDL’s fall into three different categories based on their passenger capacity, weights, and cargo. They are:
- Class A: Vehicles in this class have a gross combined weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more and the ability to tow over 10,000 pounds.
- Class B: This class is intended for smaller trucks and some buses. The vehicles in this class have a gross combined weight rating of 26,001 pounds. They also tow less than 10,000 pounds.
- Class C: This class is intended for vehicles that transport hazardous materials, as well as large buses that carry 16 or more passengers, including the driver. These vehicles have a gross combined weight rating of less than 26,001 pounds and tow less than 10,000 pounds.
Commercial vehicles are only allowed to use a limited number of lanes while traveling in Indiana. On the interstate they are required to use the far right lane. However, if three or more lanes are available, they are allowed to use the two lanes on the right. The only time they are legally allowed to use the far left lane is if they are passing another vehicle, avoiding a hazard on the road, or entering or exiting the highway.
Trucking companies are responsible for making sure that the truck drivers they put on the road are properly trained. It’s their responsibility to confirm that drivers meet the training requirements set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which includes a physical examination and background checks. Employers are also responsible for periodically screening to make sure that their truck drivers continue to remain healthy, obedient to state and federal laws and regulations, and that their ability is in no way impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Commercial Vehicle Maintenance Regulations
FMCSA requires all commercial vehicles to be in good working order and regularly maintained. Because many accidents occur due to worn tires or defects or failures in brakes, key components like these must be inspected annually and kept in good condition. The truck driver is required to keep an up-to-date inspection report inside the vehicles at all times.
Driving Time Limitations
Truck drivers must follow the driving limits set by the FMCSA. Commercial truck drivers can drive for a maximum of 11 hours after having 10 hours off-duty, and they are prohibited from driving more than 14 consecutive hours after 10 hours off-duty. In addition, commercial truck drivers cannot work over 70 hours without a 34-hour break.
Many commercial drivers record the number of hours they work in each shift. Commercial trucks also often carry an event data recorder that records the number of hours that a truck has traveled. If the truck is involved in an accident, lawyers generally want to review this data to ensure that there hasn’t been any violation with the hours of service.
When You May Want to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
Despite your best efforts as a truck driver or trucking company, accidents do sometimes happen. However, truck accidents can be more complicated than other types of auto accidents. It can be far more difficult, for example, to determine liability. Some of the possible liable parties could include:
- Driver of the other vehicle.
- Truck driver.
- Trucking company.
- Manufacturer of the truck.
- Manufacturer of specific parts (if a parts malfunction caused the accident).
If you have been involved in any kind of truck accident, you may want to consider hiring a truck accident lawyer to make sure that your rights are protected throughout the process. They can step in and make sure you don’t make any missteps that could cost you far more money or make you look guilty when you really aren’t.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
There are a number of ways that a truck accident lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of truck accident cases and protect your rights:
Conduct an Investigation
A truck accident lawyer can handle the investigation into the accident, conducting a thorough examination of all the available evidence and defending you against the other driver’s attorney, who will likely be running a background check on the driver, their qualifications, and drug tests that the trucking company has conducted.
A truck accident lawyer can also review all of the insurance information and have the vehicle inspected for any defects and malfunctions. A truck accident lawyer has experience with these types of cases and knows what type of evidence they need to look for to determine the cause of the accident and liability.
Communicate With All Parties on Your Behalf
Because liability can include multiple parties, a lawyer can help you by communicating with all parties on your behalf so you don’t inadvertently say something that could be held against you at a later time. They can also handle negotiations on multiple fronts. A truck accident lawyer has dealt with cases like these before and knows what steps they need to take to defend you.
If you have been involved in a trucking accident in Indiana, the team at Alvarez Law Office can help you navigate the complexities of your case. For a free review of your case, schedule a free consultation with our team today.