Hours Of Service Regulation Violation Trucking Accidents
Staying alert when behind the wheel is one of the most important rules of safe driving. Drowsy driving is extremely dangerous and greatly increases the risk of an accident. Truckers are infamous for driving extremely long hours, which can be hazardous when the driver has not had adequate sleep. For this reason, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted rules that limit the hours truckers are allowed to drive in one day. While many truckers abide by these rules responsibly, many hours of service regulation violation trucking accidents are caused by those who break the rules. In cases involving negligence, such as violations of hours of service, an injured victim may have grounds for a lawsuit. If you or a loved one has been in an accident with a commercial truck, you may be eligible for financial compensation for the economic and non-economic damages caused by the accident. Consider calling the Georgia personal injury lawyer of The Mark Casto Law Firm at (706) 940-4030 to learn more about your legal rights after a truck accident.
What Are the Hours of Service for Truck Drivers?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established in the year 2000 with a primary goal of preventing injuries and deaths caused by trucks and other commercial vehicles. In 2013, the FMCSA implemented new hours of service regulations for truckers and other commercial drivers, which limit the hours they may drive in a single day. The following is a summary of the FMCSA hours of service regulations:
- Property-carrying drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours, but only after 10 straight off-duty hours
- Property-carrying drivers may not drive more than 14 consecutive hours after starting a shift, following 10 consecutive off-duty hours
- Drivers must take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 cumulative hours without a 30-minute interruption
- Drivers cannot drive after 60 on-duty hours over a 7-day period or after 70 on-duty hours over an 8-day period
- Drivers must take 34 straight hours off before starting a new 7- or 8-day period
- Truckers are permitted to split their mandated 10-hour off-duty period, provided that one off-duty period lasts for at least 2 hours and the other includes a minimum of 7 straight hours in the vehicle's sleeper berth.
- A trucker may extend the 11-hour driving limit and 14-hour driving window by a maximum of 2 hours when there are adverse driving conditions
The FMCSA regulations are designed to keep roads safer and prevent accidents. Due to the massive weight of trucks and other commercial vehicles, accidents involving these vehicles are more likely to involve severe or fatal injuries.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving can have fatal consequences when an accident happens, regardless of the types of vehicles involved in the crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 697 people died in drowsy-driving crashes in 2019. However, an accurate estimate for these crashes is difficult to determine, as investigators do not always find evidence that drowsy driving contributed to the crash.
Truckers who drive while sleep-deprived are more likely to cause fatal accidents compared to drivers of passenger vehicles. However, some trucking companies may pressure their employees to stay on the road for unsafe periods in order to meet deadlines and boost the company's productivity. Drowsy driving endangers all other motorists and is a prime example of negligence behind the wheel. Individuals who have been injured by sleep-deprived truckers or other motorists may qualify for financial compensation. These accident victims can learn more about their legal rights following hours of service regulation violation trucking accidents by contacting truck accident lawyers, such as The Mark Casto Law Firm.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Commercial Truck Accident in Georgia?
Georgia is an at-fault insurance state, which means that the driver who was at fault for causing the accident will be held liable for the damages suffered by people injured in the crash. The at-fault driver's insurance company will bear this responsibility up to a certain point, depending on the coverage. However, crashes that involve severe or fatal injuries may require additional financial compensation beyond what the insurance company covers. In such cases, victims of auto accident injuries and the families of fatal crash victims may have grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Liability for trucking accidents, however, differs from crashes that only involve non-commercial passenger vehicles. People who are injured in accidents caused by the negligence of a commercial driver may have grounds for a lawsuit against one or more of the following parties:
- Truck drivers—The truck driver may face personal liability for an accident if his or her negligence was a major contributing factor, such as when violating hours of service regulations, speeding, or breaking other traffic laws
- Employers—Trucking companies and other types of driver employers can also be held liable if their negligence was a factor. Examples of negligence by trucking companies include pressuring drivers to drive for too long, paying by the mile, negligent hiring practices, poor maintenance of vehicles in their fleet, and inadequate employee training
- Insurance companies—In most car accidents, insurance companies cannot be sued for damages in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. However, insurance providers for trucking companies are an exception.
Contact an Experienced Georgia Truck Accident Lawyer for Assistance
Just like all other types of motorists, truckers have a legal and moral obligation to drive as safely as possible in order to protect themselves and other motorists. Federal and state regulations are in place to protect the public from the risk of preventable accidents involving injuries and deaths. When truck drivers or trucking companies violate these rules and someone is injured or tragically dies as a result, the negligent parties must be held accountable for the damages they have caused. Individuals who have been injured or lost a loved one in hours of service regulation violation trucking accidents often struggle with a wide range of financial and personal struggles related to the crash. Experienced personal injury lawyers understand how painful this experience can be. The team at The Mark Casto Law Firm is dedicated to fighting for justice for clients who have been injured in these preventable crashes, so consider calling (706) 940-4030 to schedule a free Strategy Session and learn more about your legal rights.