Why Are Hours of Service Regulations Important In Truck Accident Cases?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)1 enacts and enforces rules and regulations in order to keep the commercial truck driving industry as safe as possible for both truckers and other motorists on the roads and highways. The regulations involve many different aspects of the trucking industry from inspection of the trucks to alcohol and drug testing. One very important type of regulations are referred to as “hours of service” regulations.2
After a truck accident, an experienced attorney can determine whether a truck driver negligently violated hours of service violations or any other type of FMCSA regulation. Violation of these regulations is often strong evidence that the driver was negligent in causing the accident and resulting injuries. At the Dolman Law Group in Florida, our experienced attorneys know how to identify truck driver negligence so that injured victims can recover. If you have suffered injury, please call us today at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation.
What are hours of service?
Truck drivers often transport goods across many states or even across the entire country. Spending long hours on monotonous highways can easily become exhausting and fatigue is common after particularly long trips. However, many truck drivers may be tempted to keep driving despite fatigue in order to make more deliveries in a certain period of time to earn more money. Driving for too long or while fatigued can cause a commercial truck driver to lose focus, have slower reflexes, or even completely fall asleep behind the wheel. As you can imagine, this can cause devastating accidents that cause severe and possibly life-threatening injuries to other motorists.
If order to try to prevent accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers, the FMCSA enacted rules that limit the hours of service a truck driver is allowed to work before he must take a rest break. Additionally, the hours of service limitations dictate how many consecutive days a truck driver may work before he must take a certain number of days off. Unfortunately, many truck drivers continue to violate hours of service regulations and driver while dangerously fatigued. If you have suffered injury in a truck accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, you will have to prove various things to adequately demonstrate that the driver was negligent and in violation of the law.
Evidence of hours of service violations
There are many different ways to prove hours of service violations in a truck accident case, which can help prove that the truck driver was negligent in causing the accident. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you with investigation and collection of evidence that can show that hours of service regulations were violated. Some common ways these violations can be shown include the following:
- Recording devices on board the truck that show when a driver was on duty or off duty
- Paper logbooks that show when a driver was on duty or off duty (usually if the driver has no in-truck recording device)
- Gas station receipts
- Records from weigh stations
- Record from toll booths
- Files kept by the trucking company
- Delivery receipts and logbooks
The only problem with many records—especially hand-written records kept by drivers—is that they may be easily fabricated. An experienced truck accident lawyer will know how to investigate truck delivery schedules and other documents to determine whether logbooks were fabricated.
In addition to driver negligence for fatigued driving, a trucking company may also be held liable if it encourages or allows hours of service violations. In such cases, testimony from other drivers may be used to demonstrate how unsafe and negligent practices led to your injuries and allow you to recover for your losses from the company as well as the truck driver.
If you have suffered injury, call the Dolman Law Group at 727-451-6900 for assistance as soon as possible.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756