Being involved in a truck accident can have serious consequences. Because commercial trucks weigh significantly more than standard passenger vehicles, they’re more likely to cause serious or fatal injuries in collisions. If you’re involved in an accident with a truck driver, the other driver could have broken an Indiana truck accident law, and you can use evidence that they broke trucking laws in a personal injury claim. Here are some critical truck accident laws you need to know.
Laws Licensing Commercial Vehicle Drivers
Not everyone with a driver’s license can operate a semi-truck. They need to obtain the necessary qualifications to prove that they can operate their commercial vehicle safely.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires the following qualifications to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License:
- The driver must have a Commercial Learner’s Permit
- The driver must complete a Course by an FMCSA-Approved School
- The driver must pass a Road Test
- The driver must pass a Vehicle Inspection Test
- The driver must pass a Basic Controls Test
In addition to these qualifications, the FMCSA will also scrutinize the applicant’s driving record. The FMCSA also requires trucking companies to run a background check on their drivers, which may reveal a history of dangerous driving, criminal behavior, or driving while impaired.
If you’re struck by a driver that’s inexperienced, reckless, or under the influence, you could file a claim against both the truck driver and their trucking company. The trucking company could be liable if they failed to vet their applicants properly.
Semi-Truck Weight and Size Laws in Indiana
Weight and size laws for commercial trucks differ depending on the state. In Indiana, a truck’s size cannot exceed:
- A width of eight feet and six inches
- A height of 13 feet and six inches
- A length of 50 feet
Indiana Code § 9-20-4-1 also outlines the maximum weight of a commercial truck. The restrictions include:
- Single axle weight: May not surpass 20,000 pounds
- Tandem axle weight: May not surpass 34,000 pounds
- Tri-axle weight: May not surpass 50,000 pounds
- Wheel weight: May not be more than 800 pounds per inch of tire’s width
- Truck weight: May not weigh more than 80,000 pounds
If you’re involved in an accident with a truck that surpassed Indiana’s height or weight limitations, their breach may have contributed to or wholly caused the wreck to occur.
Bridge Laws for Semi-Trucks
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has a formula for the maximum height and weight of a semi-truck driving over a bridge. The truck’s limitations depend on its weight-to-length ratio. A heavier truck needs to spread its overall weight across additional axles, or they need to increase the distance between the axles. For example, a truck with an extended length is far more likely to legally pass over a bridge than a truck with the same weight and a shorter length. The FHWA’s formula is as follows:
- W = 500 ((LN/(N-1)) + 12N + 36)
- W: The gross weight of two or more consecutive axles to the closest 500 pounds
- L: Feet between the outer axles in a group of consecutive axles
- N: the number of axles in a group
Semi-Truck Passenger Laws
Truck drivers are forbidden from transporting passengers. The only case in which they’re allowed to carry passengers is if they obtain written permission from the motor carrier. The permission must include:
- The date that the trucker will transport the passenger
- The passenger’s name
- Where the passenger’s journey begins and ends
Hours of Service Rules
One common cause of truck driving accidents is driver fatigue. Trucking companies frequently overwork drivers, and this can impair a trucker’s ability to operate their vehicle safely. Driving while tired is highly dangerous, so the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented important hours of service rules designed to keep drivers off the road when they’re tired. These rules include:
- Rest breaks: A commercial trucker can only drive if they’ve taken a 30-minute break or were off duty within the last eight hours. This law may not apply to shorter hauls.
- Shift limitations: A driver can only drive for 11 hours after being off duty for at least 10 hours.
- Daily driving limitations: Drivers can’t drive more than 14 consecutive hours after being off duty for 10 hours.
- Weekly driving limitations: Truckers can’t drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours within eight days. Drivers are allowed to restart their total number of hours after taking 34 hours off duty.
If you’re involved in an accident with a fatigued trucker, they or their trucking company may have violated the hours of service rules. Many commercial trucks carry black box event data recorders that keep track of a truck’s total number of hours on the road. They also record data such as speed, braking, and wheel movements, which could prove that a trucker was liable for the accident. A semi-truck accident attorney can assist you in obtaining this data for your personal injury case.
Injured in a Semi-Truck Accident in Indiana?
If you’re involved in a truck accident, you need to file a claim against the at-fault driver. Otherwise, you could be paying out of pocket for expensive medical bills and other expenses related to your injuries. When filing against a liable driver, you can recover compensation for property damage, medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain and suffering, and more.
In order to increase the likelihood of proving your claim successfully, you need to hire an Indianapolis semi-truck accident lawyer. They will help you obtain critical evidence for proving your case, and they’ll use their legal expertise to present your case effectively. For expert semi-truck accident legal support in Indianapolis, contact Crossen Law Firm at 317-401-8626.