Commercial Driver’s License Requirements

Commercial Driver’s License Requirements

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Commercial Driver’s License Requirements

Every commercial truck driver in the United States is required to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) to perform truck driving duties.  It is a requirement for many shipping and transportation jobs in the country. Since the operation of large commercial trucks (e.g., big rigs, tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, buses, box trucks, semi-trucks, etc.) can be complicated and potentially dangerous, drivers must go through specialized training and testing to qualify for a CDL and the various endorsements which apply to determine the type of vehicles they can operate.   Since the vehicles can be dangerous if not properly operated, truck drivers are held to a higher standard of care with respect to safety issues than other drivers. All drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) must follow regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).  In addition, they must follow the rules of the road and special laws issued by individual states.

When truck drivers fail to adhere to the standard of care and thereby cause accidents, they can face severe consequences including civil or criminal actions and the possible suspension or revocation of their CDL.  If a truck driver causes an accident the circumstances of the accident will dictate what those consequences are.

In most cases, the actions that will be taken against a truck driver depend on the severity of the accident and if significant traffic or legal infractions were involved. A minor accident usually does not result in a loss of commercial driving privileges. But, if a trucker was driving under the influence and causes serious injuries to a victim, this will immediately cause the driver to lose their CDL.

There is also the possibility that a driver can receive points on their license for other traffic violations that result in an accident. As they accumulate over time, these points can result in the suspension or loss of the CDL.

Another serious consequence of a commercial truck driver causing an accident is that both the trucker and employer may be named as defendants in a civil lawsuit for damages that result due to injuries sustained by other parties. Fault for a truck accident can fall on the trucker, but also on the employer who failed to hire a safe, qualified driver. Among other thing, a trucking company has the duty to ensure their drivers pass the CDL skills tests, and do not drive on revoked or suspended licenses. Tucking companies may be held legally at fault for hiring drivers who have not met the CDL licensing requirements. Trucking companies can also be held liable for negligent hiring if they knew or should have known that a driver was unfit for the job. CDL licensing requirements ensure that drivers have undergone specific training, which provides instruction in how to safely maneuver a truck or other vehicle and helps to make certain that drivers are otherwise qualified to operate these large vehicles.

Trucking companies have a duty to ensure that their drivers have met all CDL requirements, including:

  • Proper classification. There are different kinds of CDLs depending on the type of vehicle driven as well as the type and location of travel. The 3 classes of CDLs have specialized qualifications depending on the weight of the vehicle (such as for driving tractor-trailers or tankers) and number of passengers. If a driver involved in a crash has the wrong type of CDL, the employer may be held liable.
  • Endorsements and restrictions. If companies require a driver to carry hazardous materials or oversized loads, the company is required to obtain the correct permits and driving endorsements for these journeys.
  • Interstate travel. Federal law requires that CDL drivers must be 21 years or older to cross state lines and must be 18 years or older to drive commercial vehicles within state lines.
  • Driving safely and legally. Trucking companies have a responsibility to perform adequate pre-employment testing, including skills tests and screening for controlled substances. Drivers can lose a CDL indefinitely for using drugs or alcohol behind the wheel, and the trucking company can face action for allowing a driver who failed a drug test to stay on the active driving schedule.
  • Hours of service records. Fatigued driving is a major cause of truck crashes. Drivers must be trained on hours-of-service rules and maintain logbooks that record how many hours were driven.

Determining Liability for a Truck Accident

Truck accidents involving large vehicles are not only significantly more dangerous than accidents involving typical passenger vehicles, but they are also more difficult from a legal perspective. The determination of fault and assessment of who should compensate victims can be quite involved. Some of the parties that may be held liable for a truck accident include:

  • The truck driver. If a CDL truck driver is completely at fault for causing a truck accident, it is  likely they will absorb liability for the resulting damages and potentially lose their CDL, possibly permanently.
  • The trucking company or driver’s employer. Aa truck driver’s employer may be vicariously liable for the actions of the trucker who causes and accident and may also face liability based on their own negligence is they did not follow proper procedures or violated industry regulations in the hiring, training, and monitoring of the driver.
  • A maintenance company. If a third party is responsible for the care and maintenance of a truck and a mechanical failure causes a truck accident, the truck maintenance company may be exposed to some liability for the incident.
  • Third parties. Other drivers may bear some of the liability with respect to accidents that occur with trucks

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident the experienced truck accident lawyers of VanDerGinst Law can help you get the compensation to which you are entitled.  Simply Click here or call 800-960-8529 for a FREE, no obligation consultation.  Call today

Speak With Our Personal Injury Attorneys Today

The Importance of Legal Representation

If you are injured in a truck accident, you deserve fair and just compensation. Though money won’t take away your pain, it can help you get the care you need, or assist family for any loss they suffer due to the accident victim’s injuries or death.

Truck accidents are complex and may involve multiple parties subject to different rules and regulations. An experienced personal injury attorney can fight for your rights and make sure that all parties are held responsible. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident involving a drunk driver or a driver under the influence of drug, the truck accident lawyers of VanDerGinst Law can help.  Call 800-960-8529 or click here for a FREE, no obligation consultation.




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