Hours of Service Requirements
Drivers of large commercial vehicles have a great deal of responsibility to others with whom they share the road. When a truck driver fails to exercise the appropriate level of caution, a tragedy may quickly occur. Although there are many causes of large truck crashes, a sizeable percentage of these accidents are a result of fatigued driving. In acknowledgement of this fact, the federal government and many state governments have enacted hours of service requirements limiting the time that professional truckers can spend behind the wheel. If you suspect that a trucker or trucking company’s disregard of these laws has caused an accident in which you were injured, the skillful Pembroke Pines truck accident attorneys at Cohn & Smith can advise you about your legal options.
Because of the growing number of accidents blamed on fatigued truckers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has promulgated regulations pertaining to hours of service for those who drive large trucks, truck-tractors with trailers, and even some passenger vehicles, such as large buses. Under these hours of service requirements, there is a limit on the number of hours per day that a trucker may drive, as well as mandatory rest breaks and a maximum number of hours that may be worked over a set number of consecutive days. The intention of these regulations is to allow truckers adequate physical rest so that they do not fall asleep at the wheel or have an accident due to “drowsy driving.”Violations of Hours of Service Requirements May Lead to a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If a trucker violates federal or state hours of service requirements, a person who is injured in a resulting accident has a right to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. A successful negligence claim requires proof of four elements: a duty of care, a breach of duty, causation, and damages. The plaintiff has the burden of proof in a negligence case, and they must be able to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.
Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, a trucker’s employer may also be held liable for careless acts such as negligent driving, as long as the carelessness occurred in the course of the trucker’s employment, and they were furthering the employer’s interests at the time of the accident. This is distinct from a situation in which a trucker deviates from their duties in order to do a personal errand, which usually would not be a basis for the employer’s liability.
A trucking company may also be held liable for its own direct negligence if it was aware of violations but condoned or encouraged its employees in exceeding the number of hours on the road that are allowed under state and federal laws. In some instances, a trucking outfit may even be subject to punitive damages if its conduct is found to be particularly egregious.Retain a Pembroke Pines Attorney After a Truck Accident Caused by a Fatigued Driver
It takes time to investigate a truck accident and gather the documents necessary to pursue a claim against the responsible party. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance concerning a devastating crash, you should not delay in seeking counsel from the Pembroke Pines truck accident lawyers at Cohn & Smith. Call us at (954) 431-8100 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation. We represent victims throughout South Florida who need a motor vehicle collision attorney, including in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Davie, Weston, Sunrise, Tamarac, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Aventura, and cities throughout North Dade County.