Truckers are constantly under enormous pressure from trucking companies to deliver their goods while sticking to a set schedule. However, despite Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations on hours of service, many truckers today still try to drive as fast as possible for as long as they can in order to meet their schedules.
Reckless behavior such as this, regardless of circumstance, results in more than 130,000 injuries due to trucking accidents each year. If you or your loved one have been involved in a similar incident and suspect that the truck driver might have been too drowsy or fell asleep at the wheel, talk to a truck accident attorney right away. You may be entitled to compensation due to the negligence of the driver.
What Is The Number Of Hours A Truck Driver Should Drive?
The FMCSA mandates truckers to abide by two limits on their work hours to allow sufficient time for rest and combat fatigue, the leading cause of trucking accidents. These limits include a 14-hour limit on the number of hours worked during a workday and a 60/70-hour limit on the number of hours worked during a 7-8-day stretch.
Under the 14-hour limit, a driver can only spend 11 hours of their workday driving. However, only 8 consecutive hours of driving are allowed, after which the driver should take at least a 30-minute break. After each workday, the driver must rest for at least 10 hours before getting back behind the wheel.
The 60/70-hour regulation states that a driver that works for seven consecutive days must not exceed the maximum limit of 60 working hours. Meanwhile, a driver that works eight consecutive days must not exceed the maximum limit of 70 working hours.
Throughout the entire process, a driver must also continue to follow time-logging requirements to ensure that they comply with the abovementioned regulations.
Liability For Trucking Accident Resulting From Driver Fatigue
After an accident has occurred resulting in injury, you can file a personal injury claim against the driver or trucking company with the help of your truck accident lawyer. Liability may fall on either party as the accident could have resulted from a driver error or a violation of FMCSA regulations, which led to driver fatigue.
Either way, the best way to prove liability is by collecting evidence in order to get the best compensation. There are two methods to prove liability:
- FMCSA Violations. A seasoned truck accident lawyer can prove liability under FMCSA regulations by requesting electronic records, employee data, or any other records that could determine whether the limits on hours of service were violated. More on this later.
- Police Reports. If a police officer spots signs of fatigue with the driver through spot tests, then your lawyer can seek a copy of the police report and use it as supplemental evidence in the case in order to establish liability.
How Can Your Truck Accident Attorney Prove Negligence By A Truck Driver Or Trucking Company?
In most instances of trucking accidents, the primary reason given by the offending driver is fatigue. Therefore, when taking these cases to court, it is vital to understand how exhaustion impairs a driver’s cognitive ability, which will be used as grounds for establishing legal liability.
Law enforcement units rely on roadside tests in order to determine whether a driver is fatigued. Aside from those roadside tests, there are a few behavioral signs to spot cognitive impairment at the time of the accident. These include:
- Driving at abnormal speeds (constant slowing down, speeding up, or swerving)
- Delayed reaction times
- Poor judgment or impaired decisions
Even when those signs are present, it is highly unlikely that the offending party will admit any fault during an accident. This means that negligence by a truck driver or trucking company will be challenging to prove. But an experienced truck accident attorney knows what details to look for and what documentation to collect as proof of service violations committed. These include:
- Trucker’s Driving Log. Drivers are required to document details of their entire trip inside a driving log. This log shows all helpful information regarding the specifics of the trip, such as when breaks are taken and when they begin driving.
- Electronic Data. Modern fleets often carry electronic logging devices that supplement or even replace the driver’s log. These devices help ensure that the details entered into the log are accurate. In some instances, truckers may forge entries on the written log, especially after an accident, which will be apparent when entries are inconsistent with electronic data.
- Cellular Data. An experienced truck accident lawyer will know to subpoena a driver’s phone records and obtain a copy of calls, texts, or even emails sent over a duration of time. These contain a wealth of information that may count as evidence of negligence.
- GPS. Aside from electronic logging devices, modern fleets will also have GPS on their trucks in order to track their location at all times. Using GPS, you can gain access to information such as speed and location at various times during the day, which will be helpful in mapping out the truck’s trip and the driver’s schedule, and prove violations of FMCSA regulations.
- Shipping Records. Most of the time, shippers may stamp the time and date of pick-up on the bill of loading. When compared with other pertinent documents, you may be able to show that the information on the driving log, or other documents, has been modified.
- Food and Gas Receipts. Receipts for food and gas are helpful in mapping out the schedule of the driver. Again, using the driving log as a basis, you can determine whether the time on the receipts coincides with those in the log to show whether a sufficient number of breaks were taken and whether they followed guidelines on driving time allowed.
Speak With A Seasoned Truck Accident Lawyer
When you or a family member is involved in a trucking accident but find it difficult to prove the other party’s liability, seek the help of an established truck accident attorney.
It is highly unlikely that the offending party and their insurance company will admit to any wrongdoing and will often do everything in their power to divert responsibility. Having a legal representative during these times helps you navigate the complexities involved in such cases and ensure that you get fair compensation.
Call any of our law offices below to seek help. Talk to us, and we will be glad to help you through a free consultation session.
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