Although skill, training and knowledge are important when it comes to operating a commercial motor vehicle, so is getting the proper truck driving license. In fact, those who want to drive a truck are held to a higher standard than other motorists because of the significant risk of injury and death when a large truck is involved in an accident.
Federal Laws Regarding Truck Driver Licensing and Certification
The trucking industry is regulated by federal laws, under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In order to operate a truck, a driver must obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). In order to keep this certification, drivers may not commit any serious traffic violations.
For example, the FMCSA stipulates that a Morrisville truck driver could lose his or her license for one of the following reasons:
- being under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
- leaving the scene of an accident;
- using the vehicle to commit a felony;
- driving while a license is suspended; and
- causing a fatality through use of the vehicle.
In order to obtain a CDL, there are skills and/or knowledge tests that applicants must pass. However, the class of license may vary depending on the type of vehicle the driver wishes to operate. These are broken down by Class A, B and C, and are based on whether it’s a single vehicle or combination of vehicles, weight of the vehicle(s), and other factors.
Additional testing is sometimes required for special types of trucks. Passing these tests earn the driver an endorsement. Some require a knowledge test only, while others necessitate a combination of knowledge and skills testing.
The following describes the endorsement code and description that could be given to the driver of a special type of truck:
- T – double/triple trailers;
- P – passenger;
- N – tank vehicle;
- H – hazardous materials;
- X – combo tank vehicle and hazardous materials; and
- S – school bus.
Sometimes there are restrictions placed on a truck driver’s license. These vary and can include anything from prohibiting a driver from operating a truck with full air brakes, to prohibiting the operation of a Class A vehicle with a fifth wheel connection.
How a Truck Driver’s License/Certification Factors into an Accident Claim
If someone is injured in a truck accident, the responding police officer(s) will ask to see everyone’s driver’s license. If the truck driver doesn’t have a valid commercial driver’s license or wasn’t authorized to operate that particular type of commercial vehicle, this could factor into the claim.
The trucking company may be liable for the role of its employee plays in causing truck accidents regardless of whether it is directly negligent. Direct negligence would be considered something like employing a truck driver without a valid driver’s license.
Establishing the Truck Driver’s Negligence
As important as it is that a truck driver is properly licensed/certified, recovery of damages in a claim or lawsuit will still come down to determining who was negligent in causing the accident. So it will be important to gather evidence that shows the trucker was at fault.
One way to prove the truck driver was at fault is through a police report, which may indicate not only a citation issued for not having a valid license but possibly other traffic violations. Statements from witnesses can also help establish what caused the crash. Photographs of the accident scene and damaged vehicles can also be instrumental in showing fault.
Get help from an attorney if you were in an accident with a large truck in the Morrisville area. Call Cordisco & Saile LLC at 215-642-2335 or fill out our online contact form to set up a consultation with a lawyer so you can review the details of your claim.