FMSCA Will Soon Be Allowed to Shut Down Trucking Companies with a Pattern of Violations

Trucking companies and truck drivers are subject to a number of regulations in order to promote safety on America’s roadways. Unfortunately, not all truck drivers and trucking companies obey these safety regulations, and oftentimes trucking accidents involve trucking companies that are repeat offenders of trucking safety regulations.

In an effort to curb the incidence of repeat offenses and to prevent trucking accidents by repeat offenders, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a new rule last month that implements the FMCSA’s authority to shut down a bus or truck company if the trucking company (or a company officer) has a history of purposely violating federal safety regulations.

The new rule – the Patterns of Safety Violations by Motor Carrier Management rule – will go into effect on February 21, 2014 and is just one of the new enforcement tools that FMCSA has developed in recent years to target high-risk trucking companies who put motorists in danger through their repeated safety violations and concealment of their negative safety compliance history.

According to an FMCSA press release, “FMCSA intends to apply the rule in egregious cases in which it finds that a motor carrier has committed a pattern of unsafe practices, even if that particular investigation alone does not result in a downgrade of the carrier’s safety fitness rating. The new rule complements a rule adopted by the agency in 2012 to apply out-of-service orders to reincarnated or chameleon carriers and to consolidate their enforcement histories. Today’s rule goes one step further by authorizing a complete revocation of the motor carrier’s authority to operate.”

Damages for FMSCR Violations

In addition to the trucking company being shut down for repeat safety violations, if the safety violation resulted in a trucking accident, the victims of commercial trucking accidents may be entitled to compensatory damages including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages (past and future)
  • Property damages
  • Disfigurement
  • Disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of normal life

In some cases, the victim may also be awarded punitive damages to punish the truck driver or trucking company for his or her wrongdoing, and deter future grossly negligent or intentional wrongdoing. There is some debate, however, about whether or not punitive damages can be awarded in a trucking accident that involved an FMCSR violation. Various factors affect whether or not punitive damages are awarded such as:

  • Whether the trucking company failed to monitor the truck driver’s conduct;
  • Whether the trucking company failed to investigate if a truck driver was adhering to hours of service regulations;
  • Whether the trucking company dispatched a truck driver after he or she exceeded hours of service limitations; and
  • Whether the trucking company failed to institute effective procedures to verify compliance with hours of service regulations

The investigation into FMCSR violations requires a detailed and comprehensive factual analysis. The Chicago trucking accident lawyers at Cogan & Power have considerable experience representing the victims of commercial trucking accidents and their families. As such, we have extensive knowledge of FMSCA safety regulations and understand the importance of comprehensive factual inquiry in connection with a trucking accident lawsuit.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident involving FMCSR violations, contact the skilled Chicago trucking accident attorneys at Cogan & Power at (312) 477-2500 for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights following a commercial trucking accident. If you cannot come to our offices in downtown Chicago, we will come to you. And because we take cases on a contingency basis, you will not pay any fee unless we get you compensation.