Readers are probably all aware that there is a federal agency dedicated to monitoring motor vehicle accidents involving commercial vehicles such as large trucks and passenger buses. That agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is responsible for enforcing federal safety regulations and keeps a particularly close watch on drivers and trucking companies with poor safety compliance. These regulations relate to things like vehicle maintenance, driver screening, hours of service, transport of hazardous materials, and cargo securement.
To put bite in its enforcement of these rules, the FMCSA has the power to issue fines and impose penalties on noncompliant drivers and trucking companies. Earlier this month, the fines that can be imposed on noncompliant drivers and companies officially increased. For instance, whereas serious hours of service violation used to result in a fine of up to $11,000, the current fine is now a maximum of $16,000. Similar increases occurred for other types of violations.
The increase in fines is likely to catch the attention of trucking companies looking to contain costs. The consequences of violating federal safety rules go beyond fines and penalties, though. In addition to these direct costs, there is also the potential impact on a trucking company’s insurance rates, public reputation, and ability to bring on quality drivers.
Further, there is the risk of exposure to tort litigation. When a truck driver or trucking company violates federal safety rules and becomes responsible for an auto accident as a result, those who are harmed have the right to hold all responsible parties accountable. This includes the driver and, when appropriate, the trucking company.
In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic, and offer some comments specifically on how working with an experienced attorney can help accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve.