Glossary of Helpful Terms
Legal Support for Trucking Accident Victims
At Arnold & Itkin, we know how daunting it can be in the wake of a
commercial vehicle accident. Not only are you dealing with physical injuries, but you are often faced
with a complex legal system. Legal jargon and complicated terms can only
aggravate the problem when professionals throw around words that you may
have never heard before.
To help combat this problem, we have included definitions below on some
of the most frequently used terms and phrases that you might hear during
the duration of your case.
Accident Reconstructionist: We often work with accident reconstructionists to help build clients'
cases. These are professionals who look at the scene of an accident, the
vehicles involved, photographs, and any other data we provide to determine
how an accident took place. Through their analysis, we can often determine
Commercial Driver's License (CDL): This is the license that drivers must obtain if they want to legally operate
commercial vehicles, such as those that have a gross vehicle weight of
more than 26,000 pounds.
Compensatory Damages: These are damages paid to victims to provide compensation for what they
have suffered in the accident. Typically, compensatory damages are split
into economic damages (ex: lost wages and medical bills) and non-economic
damages (ex: pain and suffering). Punitive damages may also be awarded.
Defendant: The defendant is the individual or entity who is sued in a civil lawsuit.
In the case of a trucking accident, this may be the truck driver, trucking
company, or even a parts manufacturer.
Department of Transportation (DOT): As a department of the U.S. government, DOT is responsible for the oversight
and regulation of all transportation in the U.S., including the trucking industry.
Electronic Control Module: This is a device installed into a truck that records and stores data about
a truck's activity. This can provide considerable insight into the
activities of the truck seconds before an accident and should be preserved
as valuable evidence. However, it is crucial that this data is immediately
recovered as it can be lost.
Electronic On-Board Recording Devices: Often referred to as an EOBR, the electronic on-board recording device
is installed on trucks to collect a variety of data such as the truck's
speed, the truck's location, and even truck driver-trucking company
communication. It is often seen as a way to enforce hours-of-service regulations.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): As a branch of DOT, FMCSA is specifically responsible for trucking industry
regulation. Their primary purpose is to reduce accidents and the injuries,
fatalities, and property damage that crashes cause through proper truck
/ driver regulation.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR): These are developed and enforced by FMCSA. All trucking companies and
truck drivers in the nation are expected to abide by the FMCSR.
Hours-of-Service (HOS): These are regulations that are specifically geared toward reducing the
amount of hours that a trucker can work in any given day or week, including
specifics on how long they must rest. HOS were developed to help curb
the problem of fatigued drivers on the road.
Logbook: To better enforce regulations such as HOS, all truckers are required to
keep a logbook where they record how long they have worked / rested. Unfortunately,
these are often easy to forge, leaving many truckers to refer to them
as "comic books." EOBR has been proposed as a potential solution
to be implemented in the future.
Negligence: A term often used in personal injury claims, negligence refers to the
failure of an individual or entity to operate using reasonable care and
due caution. This may be the commission of an act (such as driving drunk)
or the failure to act (such as failure to properly maintain a vehicle).
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB): The NTSB does not have any power in regards to the creation or enforcement
of regulations, but they are often called upon to investigate problems
or serious accidents. This information is then relayed back to other government
agencies such as the FMCSA with recommendations.
Plaintiff: In a truck accident case, you would be the plaintiff. Plaintiffs are the
individuals who were injured during the accidents; in wrongful death cases,
the plaintiff may be the estate or decedent's family member.
Punitive Damages: One form of damages that can be awarded are punitive damages, which are
designed to punish the defendant and deter future actions from the defendant
Safety Rating: The FMCSA assigns a safety rating to every trucking company based on several
factors, such as safety management controls, regulatory violations, and more.
Statute of Limitations (SOL): These are laws designed to provide a time limit on how long plaintiffs
have to file their claim. The SOL laws will vary from state to state and
vary from claim to claim.
Have further questions? We encourage you to
contact our truck accident lawyers for immediate help!