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Federal Trucking Laws
Federal Trucking Laws

As your lawyer, I do everything in my power to get you results.- Jim Hurley

Attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Federal Trucking Laws

The commercial trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the Department of Transportation which has established a number of rules and regulations to help prevent truck accidents and ensure the safe and efficient transportation of goods nationwide.

There are many causes of truck accidents, but often they involve a violation of FMCSA regulations, which can make your case more complex. Norfolk, Virginia truck accident lawyers John CooperJim Hurley, Bill O’Mara and Griff O'Hanlon have many yearsof combined experience handling these cases and know exactly what to look for when it comes to proving a violation of the law and seeking the full compensation you are due.

Overview of FMCSA Laws

There are literally hundreds of regulations for truckers and the companies they work for, but some of the most basic (and commonly violated) federal trucking laws include:

  • Truckers must be 21+ years old, and:
    • Carry a valid commercial driver’s license
    • Complete all state and federally required trucking safety courses
  • A trucker may not operate his or her vehicle for more than 11 consecutive hours, and these driving hours must follow at least 10 hours of off-duty rest time
  • Detailed records of drive time must be kept in the trucking log
  • Detailed records must be kept of vehicle inspection and maintenance
  • Truck drivers must not report for duty with a blood/alcohol level of 0.02 or more, and truck drivers cannot carry alcohol with them unless it forms part of their cargo.
  • Truckers must undergo special physical training and pass an exam every two years.
  • Vehicles are required to have certain markings. All trucks must display markings including their USDOT number, Hazmat markings and other markings if they are carrying dangerous materials.
  • A load must be:
    • Properly secured
    • Within the truck’s towing capacity
    • Within the trailer’s holding capacity
    • Within state weight limitations

The reasons for these rules are obvious. They are intended to prevent things such as truck driver fatigue, vehicle malfunction, rollovers, and jackknife accidents. Weight restrictions also help prevent runaway trucks, loss of braking capacity, and the extent of damage impact that a semi-truck can cause.

Does a Truck Have to Comply with The Hours of Service Regulations?

The Hours of Service regulations are among the most important federal laws that apply to truck drivers. They are intended to ensure drivers take adequate breaks and don’t fall asleep at the wheel. Notwithstanding these important rules, hundreds of wrecks every year are caused by drowsy truckers. Sometimes trucking companies bend the rules to make impossible timetables for the delivery of goods.

The Hours of Service regulations apply when a truck or a bus is used as a business, takes part in interstate commerce and complies with one or more of the following stipulations.

  • The truck weighs 10,001 pounds or more;
  • The vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more;
  • The vehicle is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation;
  • The vehicle is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation;
  • It is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards.


Experienced Virginia Truck Accident Lawyers

Federal trucking regulations provide a framework for the trucking industry in the United States. When we are asked to investigate a trucking accident with injuries, or a death, one of the first things we will do is to check if the federal regulations were complied with.

A failure to follow one of the many federal regulations will help build up a powerful case against a trucking company or another relevant entity like a broker or a shipper.

Despite the presence of these safety regulations, thousands of truck accidents occur in Virginia and North Carolina every year. If you have been seriously injured in one of these accidents, our Norfolk, Virginia truck accident attorneys can help you. We will thoroughly investigate your accident to determine the cause and identify which FMCSA laws were violated.

Please contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with our experienced trucking team. Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers has a main office opposite the Circuit Court in Norfolk and client meeting locatons in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton and on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Please schedule an appointment before visiting our client meeting locaitons. We represent people hurt in trucking accidents across the Commonwealth in Virginia and in North Carolina.

If you cannot conveniently come to us, our attorneys will be happy to come to you at your home or at your hospital bed. Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers is the author of The Best Book About Virginia Trucking Accidents. It can be ordered on our book page.

John Cooper

John Cooper is a veteran of personal injury law practice in Virginia. A native Virginian, he was raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases and recently handled the largest auto accident settlement in 2010, according to VA Lawyers Weekly. The award provided $3.5 million to a child whose young father died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was rear-ended by a careless truck driver.

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Jim Hurley

Jim Hurley has been practicing law throughout Virginia for more than two-and-a-half decades. During his career, he has tried more than 100 jury trials — a staggering number — and handled hundreds more that were settled out of court. He is guided by the principle that the client is in charge of his or her case and should be kept fully aware of the litigation process. Jim has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given, for his practice of law. He was named in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016.

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Bill O’mara

Bill O’Mara started his legal career in 2008, moving back to his home town of Chesapeake, VA. He has practiced in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury and other litigation. He has gained extensive court room and trial experience, including contested trials before judges and juries across Hampton Roads. In 2014, Mr. O’Mara joined Injury Lawyers as an associate attorney. He became a partner in 2017.

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