Nebraska Trucking Regulations and Violations
Given that there are over two million semi-trucks in operation in the United States, both federal and state governments have strict regulations for truck drivers and companies. Many of these rules are meant to stop fatal collisions involving large trucks by decreasing the likelihood of a fatigued, drunk, or distracted driving crash. Sadly, profits often overshadow safety, and many trucking companies push their drivers to break trucking regulations to complete orders at breakneck rates.
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If you or someone you loved was injured by a truck driver who violated federal or state trucking regulations, then you may be eligible for compensation in an auto accident claim. Your claim can include all of your medical expenses, including long-term treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But to receive these much-needed funds, you will need to work with an experienced and dedicated Nebraska truck accident attorney. At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., our legal team has over a decade of experience. We can advocate for proper compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance and provide sound legal advice throughout your entire claim. To discuss your case in a free consultation, call our office at (402) 505-8234.
As a part of the Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has overseen the trucking industry since 2000 with the goal of reducing the number of accidents through detailed regulations. This department works closely with state and local governments, including the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT), to ensure that these regulations are properly enforced. If a truck driver or company violates one of FMCSA’s regulations, the department can impose thousands of dollars in fines, revoke a trucking company’s certifications, or suspend a commercial driver’s license.
Both FMCSA and NDOT have outlined strict regulations for truck drivers regarding:
Rest Breaks: One of the most important regulations involves the Hours of Service (HOS). Simply put, drivers are required to take a rest break after a certain period of continuous driving or if they have not taken a rest break within the last day. These rules are designed to reduce the rate of fatigued driving accidents and ensure that drivers are fully aware of their surroundings when behind the wheel of a semi-truck. These regulations include:
- Drivers cannot be on-duty more than 14 hours in a day, including 11 hours of driving and additional time working (maintenance, logistics, etc.).
- If a driver has had 10 back-to-back off-duty hours, they may drive a maximum of 11 hours in a day.
- After 8 back-to-back hours of driving, drivers must rest for 30 minutes.
- Drivers have a weekly limit of 60 hours or 70 hours in 8 days.
- This weekly limit can be reset by taking a 34-hour rest break.
BAC Levels: While most drivers have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08%, in Nebraska, commercial drivers have a limit of 0.02% and cannot have any drugs in their system, including marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP).
Weight and Size Restrictions: In the state of Nebraska, semi-trucks cannot exceed 65 feet in length (including cab and trailer). With regard to the weight of the vehicle, it can vary depending on the number of axles a vehicle has, but can range between 20,000 lbs for a single axle to a maximum of 95,000 lbs for seven axles on a state highway. The only scenario where a truck can exceed the limitations is with a single-use permit provided by the NDOT.
Cell Phone Use: Nebraska law expressively forbids any driver from using a cell phone while driving without the aid of a hands-free device, whether texting, making calls, or looking up directions. For truck drivers, violating this law can result in driver disqualification and a revocation of a commercial driver’s license.
Hazardous Materials Permits: In order to transport hazardous materials, drivers must receive permits from FMCSA and place warning placards on their vehicles.
These laws and regulations are specifically designed to maximize the safety of Nebraska roads and highways. When truck drivers violate these rules, whether by overloading a trailer or driving over the HOS, their negligent actions can result in dangerous collisions with everyday drivers.
Among the variety of actions that can cause a serious truck crash, the most common include:
- Driving with a BAC at or above 0.02%, the legal DUI limit for commercial drivers
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Driving over the HOS and falling asleep at the wheel
- Overloading a vehicle without a permit
- Using a cell phone while driving
- Transporting hazardous material without a permit
- Failing to perform maintenance on a vehicle
Any act of negligence or reckless driving that leads to a collision can make the driver liable for any and all injuries that other drivers or pedestrians suffer. This means that if you were injured due to truck driver negligence, you may be able to pursue a claim against their insurance policy. Filing a claim may be absolutely necessary, as truck crashes can result in catastrophic injuries, costly surgeries, months of rehabilitation, and weeks out of work. A single family could easily be buried by medical debt and lost wages due to a truck crash. Holding the driver liable in an auto accident claim may be key to gaining the much-needed funds you need to recover comfortably.
When any truck crash occurs, both local police and federal officials will look into the cause of the collision, to determine if the driver violated federal or state regulations. While these investigations may be thorough, the initial police report may not be enough to receive compensation. The driver’s insurance company may attempt to deny your claim by arguing that the police report is not thorough enough or relies on circumstantial evidence. Instead, you should go to an experienced law firm that can build a strong case for compensation.
At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., our legal team can launch an in-depth investigation into your crash to determine if the truck driver violated a state or federal regulation and how they caused your injuries. In addition to reviewing your medical records and the police report, we can also collect witness statements, collect surveillance footage or photos of the crash, look into the driver’s DMV records for a history of violations, work with experts to reconstruct the events of the collision, and review the truck’s black box data for relevant evidence. If there is evidence that the truck driver violated the law and caused your injuries, we can then hold them accountable in a truck accident claim to ensure you receive proper compensation for your injuries.
Within the state of Nebraska, truck crash victims have up to four years from the date of the collision to file a claim against the driver’s insurance policy. Despite this longer statute of limitations, truck crash investigations can be incredibly complex and require extensive research to ensure not a single detail is missed. Not just any law firm can handle such a detailed claim, and you will want to work with an Omaha truck accident lawyer who will not rest until you receive the compensation you deserve.
At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., our founding attorney has extensive experience on both sides of the claims process. With his understanding of how insurance companies defend against claims, he can provide thorough guidance to crash victims about the best route to compensation. If you or someone you love was injured by a negligent truck driver, you should immediately contact Bottlinger Law L.L.C. to secure strong legal assistance. Call our office at (402) 505-8234 to schedule a free consultation.
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