I just read an interesting article called Small Trucks, Big Regulations published by a very smart lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, Joseph Fried. Fried pointed out that in some circumstances, pickup trucks and other small frame trucks may be subject to the same regulations that apply to semi tractor trailer rigs. We are familiar with the federal regulatory framework and have handled a number of trucking accident cases. This article sheds some light on how widely applicable this federal legislation can be.
Though most of our cases involve medical malpractice, Howard and I have gotten involved in trucking, motorcycle and automobile crash cases where the injuries are complicated and extensive, including serious brain injury cases. We have been drawn to these cases because of our extensive experience handling catastrophic injury cases, proving huge economic and noneconomic losses, and our broad medical knowledge. In the course of doing so, we have learned about the federal regulations that apply to the trucking industry because many severe motor vehicle accidents involve trucks.
The Fried article points out that federal trucking regulations apply to commercial vehicles weighing 10,001 lbs. or more. While most commercial pickup trucks weigh 6,000 to 8,000 lbs, when those trucks are loaded or carry a trailer, the weight may meet the 10,001 lbs. limit. If the truck is used for business purposes and meets the weight limit, it is subject to the regulations. As Fried states “
Why does this matter? Under Ohio law, liability for truck and car accidents is determined by violations of State law, including traffic laws and local ordinances. However, violations of federal trucking regulations can lead to a claim for punitive damages or establish liability when there is a question of who was at fault in the accident. The regulations set forth standards for driver qualifications, hours of service (to minimize driver fatigue), and maintenance and inspections.