Many business owners will tell you that a source of frequent headaches for them is government regulation. As a general rule, the higher the risk that a business or its employees can cause injury to others, the more extensive government regulations tend to be.
Commercial vehicles, such as freight carriers and passenger vehicles, carry a heightened danger of injury to the public and they are accordingly subject to extensive regulation by the federal government as well as by Texas.
The number of agencies that exercise some form of jurisdiction over the commercial trucking industry is impressive: The U.S. Department of Transportation through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Texas Department of Public Safety can all become involved with a trucking company, especially when one of its vehicles gets into an accident.
Every government agency that applies regulations to the trucking industry claims that the reason for its oversight is to prevent accidents, and this is no doubt true. But truck accidents still happen, and when they occur people still get injured.
When this happens, the plethora of agencies and their regulations may take on an additional and valuable function: violation of these regulations may be used as evidence to support a cause of action for negligence to recover a damages award in a personal injury or a wrongful death lawsuit.
Consider, for example, whether the truck driver involved in a collision with a car was properly licensed, or whether the truck was properly maintained, or if the truck was overweight, too tall, or too wide.
Perhaps the truck's registration was not in order. All of these areas, and more, are the subject of government regulatory requirements, and the truck company must be able to document its compliance. The lack of such documentation, or documentation showing that compliance was lacking, can prove extremely valuable in proving a case against the trucking firm, its employees and its management.
A law firm experienced with trucking accidents will know where to look and what to look for when it comes to scrutinizing a truck company's records, and can use legal discovery to obtain copies of those records. This investigation may be the most important step in bringing a legal case for injury to a successful settlement or trial judgment.