Utah Truck Accident Laws
Utah trucking laws are designed to require truck drivers and companies to operate their vehicles safely. They also provide a legal remedy for victims of trucking accidents. It’s important to understand your rights and what is expected of you as you pursue your case. Of course, we cannot help with specifics regarding your case unless we have agreed to take it, but we want to give you free information to help you avoid making any big mistakes in an already difficult time.
Truck Accident Claim and Time Limits
Seek legal help immediately after a truck accident. Evidence can start to disappear quickly. For example, log books keep records of the hours the truck driver has driven to make sure they conform to federal regulations. But trucking companies usually only maintain these logs for a few months.
If you wait to find an attorney or pick someone without expertise in trucking laws, then you may find your case destroyed because of lost records. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states how long trucking companies must preserve documents:
1) Driver Logs
- Hours of service records: 6 months (395.8(k))
- Supporting data for “Periodical Reports of” hours of service: 3 years (379 Appendix A Subpart K)
- Dispatch records: 3 years (379 Appendix A Subpart K)
2) Driver Files & Records
- Driver qualification file: 3 years following termination in most cases (391.51(d))
- Driver personnel files: 1 year (379 Appendix A Subpart E)
- Payroll records: 1 year (379 Appendix A Subpart E)
3) Accident Claim Records
- Accident register: 1 year (390.15)
- Claim records: 1 year from the settlement (379 Appendix A Subpart F)
- Insurance records: 1 year from the settlement (379 Appendix A Subpart F)
4) Equipment Inspection and Maintenance
- Vehicle inspection reports: 3 months (396.11)
- Maintenance records: 18 months after departure from motor carrier’s control (396.3(c))
- DOT roadside inspections: 1 year (396.9)
- Periodic inspections: 14 months (396.21)
5) Drug & Alcohol Testing: 1-5 years depending on the type of data (382.401)
6) Shipping Records
- Bills of lading, freight bills, and other shipping documents – 1 year (379 Appendix A Subpart I)
- Loading and unloading records – 2 years (379 Appendix A Subpart J)
- Weight tickets – 3 years (379 Appendix A Subpart J)
7) Lost Records List: For the remainder of the prescribed period (379 Appendix A Subpart M)
As you see, the list is long and confusing, making it difficult for you to know which records to get and when. Our commercial truck accident lawyers can help with our expertise.
Which Trucking Laws Really Matter?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act has 1,000 regulations in about 50 sections. Of those, only 10 sections really matter (Holmes Ten Commandments):
- Controlled Substance and Alcohol Use and Testing (382)
- CDL Standards, Requirements, and Penalties (383)
- Safety and Fitness (385)
- Minimum Levels of Financial Responsibility (387)
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (390.5)
- Qualification of Drivers (391)
- Driving of Motor Vehicle (392)
- Parts and Accessories (393)
- Driver’s Hours of Service (395)
- Inspection, Repair, Maintenance (396)
These laws cover pages of regulations that need to be sifted through in order to ensure your case succeeds. Hiring a competent lawyer is the key to winning your case.
How Many Hours Are Truckers Allowed To Work?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets out the number of hours truckers can drive. Drivers can log 11 hours total before they have to take 10 consecutive hours off. They also can only work for 14 hours total before having to take this 10 consecutive hour break, including driving time as well as other work duties. Further, truckers cannot work more than 60 hours in a 7 day period or 70 hours in 8 days.
What Utah Laws Specifically Apply to Truckers?
In Paulos v. Covenant Transport, the Utah Court of Appeals confirmed that courts may allow trucking handbooks, like the American Trucking Association Handbook, to be informative for proper safety for truckers. Utah law limits both the length and weight of semi-trucks. It allows semi-trucks to have one trailer of 48 feet or less or two trailers of 61 feet or less total and 10,500 to 80,000 pounds based on the type of axle. Semi-trucks must also have a cover or flap behind the back tires to “prevent, as far as practicable, the wheels from throwing dirt, water, or other materials on other vehicles.
If carrying hazardous material, semi-trucks must follow the U.S. Department of Transportation rules, including having a sign indicating the hazardous material and the location of fire extinguishers. Truckers must also use warning signals if stopped on the side of a road. Truck drivers must have a Commercial Driver License (CDL) and follow the CDL rules. This includes the weight limits for truckers, reasons for the suspension of the license, and regulations for out-of-state drivers. They also must meet certain physical qualifications. They must spend 15 minutes inspecting their truck before driving and receive a full inspection every year. Utah law also requires the trucking company to carry $1-5 million in insurance because of the potentially large amount of damage that accidents can create.
What Other Important Trucking Accident Claim Information Should I Be Aware Of?
You should be aware that it’s important to have a unique legal strategy for your trucking accident claim. Other law firms will use the same accident expert for all trucking cases without realizing that this expert will miss important differences. For example, they may use the first single tire skid marks on the roadway as the initial braking, not realizing that the rear dual tires will leave the first skid marks because of the air-brake system. This would destroy all estimates and potentially ruin your case.
At Good Guys Injury Law, we have successfully helped others with their Utah trucking accident cases. We can help bring some peace of mind to you during a difficult time.