Are There Special Rules for Commercial Truck Accidents in Massachusetts?

The injuries caused by accidents involving commercial trucks are often severe. Further, there are often several parties who may be considered at-fault for such accidents. Accordingly, for victims, the road to recovery can be long and complicated.

Commercial truck accidents in Massachusetts can also involve a unique set of rules and considerations, including federal regulations, the state’s no-fault insurance system, and the statute of limitations. If you suffered a commercial truck accident, then the team at our firm can help navigate the complexities of your case. Furthermore, we will negotiate with other parties so that you may obtain the full range of compensation you deserve.

Seek guidance and support from our experienced Boston truck accident attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan by calling (617) 925-6407.

Special Considerations for Victims of Commercial Truck Accidents in Massachusetts

Dealing with the aftermath of a commercial truck accident can be very difficult. Fortunately, our Newton truck accident lawyers can help evaluate the unique set of rules and considerations that may apply to your case.

Federal Regulations for Commercial Trucks

In Massachusetts, commercial truck accidents are subject to specific federal regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations cover various aspects of commercial truck operations, including driver qualifications, hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and load securement. It’s essential to understand that these federal regulations play a significant role in determining liability and responsibility in commercial truck accident cases. The team at our firm can investigate the circumstances surrounding your crash to determine whether any of the FMCSA regulations were violated.

No-Fault Insurance System

Massachusetts operates under a no-fault insurance system, which means that after an accident, individuals typically turn to their own insurance coverage for compensation, regardless of fault. However, accident victims with serious injuries may be able to pursue claims against at-fault parties.

Commercial truck accidents have a high propensity to cause severe harm and significant property damage. As a result, you may have the right to step outside of the no-fault system after your truck accident to pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible party. During your free case review, our legal professionals can assess the strength of your potential lawsuit.

Statutes of Limitations

When dealing with commercial truck accidents in Massachusetts, it’s crucial to be aware of the specific statutes of limitations. These are legal time limits that dictate how long you have to file a lawsuit after an accident.

In Massachusetts, the time window to file your truck accident lawsuit is established by Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 260, § 2A. Typically, you will have three years from the date your crash happened to bring your lawsuit to court. If you wait too long to file, then you may miss your chance to obtain the compensation you are owed.

Despite possibly having up to three years to file your truck accident lawsuit, you should begin building your case immediately after your crash. As time passes, the evidence needed to support your claims may become hard to preserve or collect. The sooner you begin working on your lawsuit, the more efficient your evidence collection process will be.

FMCSA Rules for Commercial Truck Drivers

The FMCSA has established a wide array of commercial trucking regulations that aim to protect truck drivers and other motorists sharing the roadways. The following are merely examples of the many different rules that truck drivers and trucking companies must adhere to:

Hours of Service Regulations

One of the most crucial FMCSA regulations is the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. These rules restrict the number of consecutive hours a commercial truck driver can operate a vehicle and mandate rest periods. Violations of HOS regulations, such as driving while fatigued or exceeding maximum driving hours, can lead to accidents due to impaired alertness and slower reaction times. Fatigue-related accidents are a significant concern when HOS regulations are not followed.

Driver Qualification Standards

FMCSA mandates specific driver qualification standards that commercial truck drivers must meet. This includes requirements for a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL), medical certifications, and a clean driving record. When trucking companies fail to ensure their drivers meet these qualifications, accidents can occur because of inexperienced or unqualified drivers behind the wheel.

Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection

Commercial truck companies are required to maintain their vehicles in safe operating conditions. Regular inspections and maintenance of brakes, tires, lights, and other crucial components are necessary to prevent accidents. Failure to meet these maintenance requirements can result in accidents caused by equipment failures or malfunctions.

Cargo Securement

Proper cargo securement is essential to maintaining stability and preventing accidents. FMCSA regulations dictate how cargo should be loaded and secured to ensure it doesn’t shift or fall off during transport. Violations of cargo securement regulations can lead to accidents, especially when cargo shifts, causing the truck to become unstable or spill its load on the road.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

FMCSA requires drug and alcohol testing for commercial truck drivers. Drivers who are under the influence can impair their judgment and reaction times, leading to accidents. Trucking companies must have robust testing programs in place to identify and remove drivers who test positive for controlled substances or alcohol.

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

The use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to record driving hours accurately is another critical regulation. ELDs prevent drivers from manipulating their paper logs, helping to ensure compliance with HOS regulations. Failure to implement ELDs properly can lead to drivers exceeding their allowed driving hours, resulting in fatigue-related accidents.

Speed Limits and Speed Governors

FMCSA regulations also include rules regarding speed limits for commercial trucks and the use of speed governors. Trucks are often limited to specific speed limits, which vary depending on the type of road and location. Violating these speed limits can lead to accidents because of reduced maneuverability and increased stopping distances for large trucks.

Speed governors, which limit a truck’s maximum speed, are also mandated to prevent excessive speeding. Failure to adhere to speed regulations can result in accidents, especially in adverse weather conditions or congested traffic areas.

Call Our Truck Accident Lawyers for Help with Your Case in Massachusetts

Get help from our Barnstable, MA truck accident attorneys by calling the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today at (617) 925-6407.