Skip to Content
Home » Blog » What Happens If a Trucking Company Breaks FMSCA Rules


What Happens If a Trucking Company Breaks FMSCA Rules

on  Truck Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry. It enhances the safety of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) on the road and saves lives by enforcing strict safety standards, rules, and regulations. This oversight extends across various operational aspects of trucking, including driver qualifications, vehicle maintenance, and hours of service, to mitigate risks and promote a safer driving environment for both truck drivers and the public​​​​​​.

Trucking companies must comply with FMCSA rules. It is non-negotiable. Violating these rules can have serious consequences, ranging from financial penalties and operational restrictions to the suspension or revocation of operating authority. Beyond the immediate legal and financial repercussions, non-compliance can significantly tarnish a company’s reputation, affect its business relationships, and expose it to substantial liability when a trucking accident occurs. 

FMCSA Rules and Regulations Overview

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces a comprehensive set of rules and regulations designed to enhance the safety of commercial motor vehicle operations. These regulations are critical for trucking companies to follow and include:

Hours of Service (HOS)

These rules govern how long drivers can operate commercial vehicles to ensure they remain alert on the road. HOS regulations include limits on daily and weekly driving hours and mandatory rest periods. For instance, drivers are typically limited to 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour workday following ten consecutive hours off duty​​.

Electronic Logging Devices (ELD)

ELDs are mandated to record drivers’ work hours and ensure compliance with HOS regulations. These devices replace paper logbooks and help to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) electronically, thereby reducing the chances of hours-of-service violations​​.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

FMCSA requires drug and alcohol testing for safety-sensitive employees, including pre-employment screening, random testing, and post-accident testing. These measures are crucial for maintaining a safe working environment and ensuring drivers are not operating vehicles under the influence​​.

Driver Qualifications

Drivers must meet specific criteria to operate commercial vehicles, including possessing a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with the appropriate endorsements for their vehicle type. This ensures drivers have the knowledge and skills to operate large trucks and buses safely​​.

Vehicle Maintenance

Regular inspections, repairs, and maintenance of commercial vehicles are mandated to ensure they operate safely. This includes checking brakes, tires, lights, and other critical components to prevent mechanical failures that could lead to accidents​​​​.

Cargo Securement & Weight Limits

The FMCSA sets standards for properly securing cargo and adhering to weight limits. These rules are in place to prevent accidents caused by shifting or falling cargo and to ensure that trucks do not exceed weight limits that can compromise road safety and infrastructure​​.

Insurance Requirements

Trucking companies must maintain a minimum amount of insurance coverage to operate. The required insurance amount varies based on the type of cargo transported and is intended to cover liabilities in the event of accidents and injuries​​.

Why Do Trucking Companies Violate FMCSA Rules?

Trucking companies might violate FMCSA rules for several reasons, each with potential risks and consequences for the company and its drivers. Understanding why these violations occur can provide insights into the challenges and pressures within the trucking industry.

Financial Pressures and Deadline Demands

Many trucking companies operate under tight margins and face significant pressure to meet delivery deadlines. This pressure can sometimes lead trucking companies to encourage or tacitly approve their drivers exceeding Hours of Service (HOS) regulations to deliver cargo on time. Such practices risk the safety of the driver and other road users​​.

Driver Shortages and Operational Strains

The trucking industry often experiences driver shortages, which can lead to overreliance on existing drivers. This can result in pushing drivers to work longer hours than federally allowed, risking HOS violations. The operational strain can sometimes prioritize delivery schedules over strict adherence to safety regulations​​.

Mismanagement and Lack of Oversight

A lack of proper oversight and mismanagement within trucking companies can lead to violations of FMCSA regulations. Companies may fail to conduct necessary vehicle maintenance or adequately train their drivers, leading to safety risks. Moreover, some companies may not rigorously enforce compliance with FMCSA rules among their drivers or within their operational practices​​​​.

Intentional Non-Compliance

In some cases, violations occur due to intentional non-compliance, where companies or drivers ignore regulations to save time or reduce operational costs. This includes bypassing vehicle maintenance requirements, overloading vehicles, or falsifying logbooks to hide HOS violations​​.

Lack of Awareness or Understanding

Some FMCSA violations may stem from a lack of awareness or understanding of the regulations. New or smaller trucking operations might not be fully aware of all FMCSA rules or how to implement them properly. This can lead to unintentional non-compliance, highlighting the importance of education and training​​.

Consequences of Violating FMCSA Rules

Non-compliance with FMCSA rules and regulations puts the trucking company’s drivers and assets at risk and endangers other road users, including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Violations can lead to accidents that result in injuries, fatalities, and substantial property damage.

It can also result in significant consequences and penalties, including:

Fines and Citations: Violations of FMCSA rules can lead to monetary fines that vary widely in size, depending on the nature and severity of the infraction. These fines are designed to penalize non-compliance and deter future violations. Citations can also be issued for minor infractions, serving as formal notices of violation​​.

Suspension or Revocation of Operating Authority: More severe or repeated violations can lead to the suspension or revocation of a trucking company’s operating authority. This means the company would lose its legal right to operate, a devastating blow that could effectively shut down its business operations. Drivers can also face suspension or revocation of their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), directly impacting their employment and career​​.

Potential Legal Liabilities. Violations of FMCSA rules can also increase a trucking company’s legal liabilities, especially in the event of an accident. If non-compliance with FMCSA regulations was found to have contributed to an accident, the company (and potentially the driver) could be held liable for damages, injuries, or deaths. This can lead to costly lawsuits, significant financial settlements, and increased insurance premiums. The legal principle of negligence often applies here, as failing to adhere to safety regulations can be seen as a failure to exercise reasonable care.​

Liability After a Florida Truck Accident

Violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations can significantly affect liability and negligence after a trucking accident. If a trucking company violated FMCSA regulations, they can be responsible for the accident and your injuries. 

FMCSA violations are a benchmark for determining the standard of care expected from trucking companies and their drivers. When a trucking company or driver fails to adhere to these regulations, it can be considered a breach of their duty of care. For instance, if a company neglects vehicle maintenance requirements or allows drivers to bypass HOS regulations, such actions demonstrate negligence​​​​.

The legal consequences for trucking companies stemming from FMCSA violations can be severe. Beyond the immediate fines and penalties imposed by the FMCSA, companies can face substantial civil liabilities in lawsuits filed by accident victims. In these cases, the evidence of FMCSA violations can lead to compensatory and, in some cases, punitive damages. 

Violating federal regulations makes it more challenging for companies to defend against negligence claims after a trucking accident. Moreover, in cases where violations are egregious or systemic, trucking companies might also face criminal charges, further compounding their legal woes​​​​​​.

A Florida Trucking Accident Lawyer Can Help

After a trucking company violates FMCSA rules and regulations, you must hire a Florida trucking accident lawyer. Personal injury law, especially in cases involving commercial trucks, is complex. It encompasses a range of regulations and standards that typical accident cases do not. A trucking accident lawyer understands the FMCSA regulations and can fight for your rights to compensation​.

An experienced Florida trucking accident attorney knows precisely what evidence is critical to support a claim and how to obtain it. This includes data from electronic logging devices (ELDs), maintenance records, and driver logs. They also know how to interpret this information in the context of FMCSA violations and use it to establish negligence and causation. Their expertise ensures that all relevant evidence is meticulously collected, preserved, and presented to support your claims. 

Contact Prosper Shaked Today

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, especially where FMCSA violations may have contributed, we can help. Trucking companies fight these claims aggressively. They don’t want to face penalties and consequences, and they don’t want to pay you what you need to recover. We know how to fight back and go head-to-head with these companies. 

Don’t face this challenging time alone. Contact us today for a comprehensive evaluation of your case and to learn more about how we can assist you in achieving the justice and recovery you deserve. Contact personal injury lawyer Prosper Shaked today at (305) 694-2676 for a free consultation on your case.