Hours of Service Laws May Impact your Semi Truck Accident Case
Commercial truck drivers are held to different standards than the average motorist. Since these professional drivers are on the road for more hours, often driving huge vehicles, they have rules to follow so everyone is kept safe.
One of those rules limits the number of hours they can be on the road.
Let’s check in with the Car Crash Captain and learn about these rules, why they’re important, and how they can impact your truck accident case.
What are the Hours of Service Laws?
The laws differ slightly if the driver is carrying property (cargo, goods, etc.) or if they are carrying people (like on busses, etc.).
For drivers carrying property, they can only drive for a maximum of 11 hours after taking 10 consecutive hours off.
For drivers carrying people, they can only drive for a maximum of 10 hours after taking 8 consecutive hours off.
Property drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
People drivers may not drive after being on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive hours off duty.
Property drivers must take a 30-minute break once they hit 8 hours on the road.
Both people and property drivers may not exceed 60 hours on duty in a 7-day period, or 70 hours in an 8-day period.
Thoroughly confused? Don’t fret about it too much unless you’re a truck driver. Otherwise, the details of the laws are something that your truck accident lawyer in Texas already know, and they’ll come into play when analyzing your case. If you really want to brush up on your truck driver laws, check out the FMCSA website.
What if those Laws aren’t Followed?
The real issue is what happens when a commercial driver decides to ignore those laws? What if they fudge their numbers a bit and exceed the limits?
We aren’t talking legal implications, yet.
The laws aren’t just random and arbitrary. They’re the result of years of study and research. After analyzing truck driver patterns, wrecks, and causes, the result was that by implementing these hours of service limitations, the number of wrecks caused by fatigue are greatly reduced.
When these service hours aren’t followed, the likelihood of a Texas truck accident go up. And so does the likelihood of using chemical substances to reduce fatigue.
Getting caught, of course, is going to severely impact the driver and the trucking company. Federal penalties, fines of up to $16,000 (even higher if the driver is transporting hazardous material), reduced safety ratings, and other sanctions are possible.
Who is Liable if the Laws are Broken?
As with all commercial vehicle accidents, liability isn’t always straightforward. There can be several at-fault parties.
The first party looked at is always the driver. They are in control of the vehicle, and in control of how many hours they put behind the wheel. Many trucks now have electronic logs that are difficult, if not impossible, to tamper with. But older trucks still require the driver to manually input hours into their driving log. If the driver willingly exceeded their allowable hours, they could be liable.
Some companies, however, don’t care too much about those laws. Faster shipments mean more money, and it is not unheard of that a company will force drivers to keep driving even after they have hit their limit. If this is the case, the trucking company may be liable.
Drivers and trucking companies will try to do whatever possible to negate or pass the blame. If you’re not prepared with a Texas truck accident lawyer on your side, will you be able to argue for your own compensation? What if you’re seriously injured in an accident?
Herbert Law Group Helps Maximize Your Settlement
Many people believe that their settlement will be lower because of the attorney fees. The difference, however, is that when you use an attorney, you should be able to collect more compensation than if you try to go it alone.
Suppose this scenario. You are injured and the insurance company offers a $100,000 settlement. But you hire Herbert Law Group to help you receive the compensation you need to fully heal. Our Texas truck accident lawyers work to bring in a $300,000 settlement for you. Even after attorney fees, you still have at least double what you would have received had you argued for yourself.