Steps to Prove That Hours-of-Service Regulations Were Violated
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers to ensure that they don’t drive while drowsy. It’s estimated that driver fatigue has been a factor in around 13% of all large truck accidents. If you’ve been in a truck accident and suspect that the accident was caused by driver fatigue, it’s possible that hours-of-service regulations have been violated.
What the Hours-of-Service Regulations Entail
Before you learn how to prove that a truck driver violated hours-of-service regulations, it’s important to understand what they entail. The FMCSA sets these regulations because they believe that they will help prevent future truck accidents and improve the safety of other road users. As mentioned previously, drowsy driving is a key factor in many truck accidents, which is why the FMCSA has aimed to reduce the number of drivers who operate a truck when fatigued.
The hours-of-service regulations place a limit on the total number of hours truck drivers can operate a vehicle in a single day as well as during a seven- to eight-day period. The main hours-of-service guidelines that you should be aware of include:
- In the event that a trucker works for a company that isn’t open for seven days each week, they will be limited to driving for 60 hours or less throughout a seven-day period.
- Truckers can only operate a vehicle for 11 hours each day and must not drive again until 10 consecutive hours have passed.
- If the trucking company the driver works for is open each day of the week, the driver can work as much as 70 hours during eight consecutive days.
- Once the driver has worked the maximum number of hours in a week, they will need to take at least 34 hours off before getting back to work.
How to Prove that Hours-of-Service Regulations Were Violated
The FMCSA requires truck drivers and trucking companies to keep hours-of-service records. These records can be used to help prove that hours-of-service regulations have been violated. Even though records must be kept by trucking companies, it can be difficult to get a hold of them, which is why it’s recommended that you obtain the services of a New Jersey trucking accident attorney if you believe that a violation led to your being harmed.
There are several records and documents that an attorney can obtain when attempting to prove that hours-of-service regulations were violated. All truckers must maintain a logbook where they record all of their driving information. In the past, the logs were in paper form, and thus they were very susceptible to be falsified or manipulated in some other manner.
Since 2018, however, the FMCSA and Congress have mandated that these logs are to be kept in electronic form. There are some exceptions, however, such of drivers of vehicles that are older than model year 2000. However, there are a variety of ways that even this technology can be altered in a way to show that truckers were driving fewer hours than was in fact the case.
Maintenance and inspection records could also prove beneficial when building a personal injury claim involving hours-of-service violations. Maintenance records invariably show when a truck has been repaired or maintained. If the logbook doesn’t record this information, it’s possible that the repairs or maintenance were only needed because the hours-of-service regulations weren’t being adhered to.
As for inspections, the FMCSA requires that each truck is inspected before and after a trip to ensure that it is operating perfectly. If the truck driver states that inspections have occurred, it is possible that the information in the logbook doesn’t match up with the given timeline. This is another situation where inconsistencies could help prove that hours-of-service regulations have been violated.
There are also many different pieces of evidence that can be used when building a strong case. Weight-station records, tollbooth tickets, restaurant receipts, and gas station receipts may show how long the truck was being driven during a specific day, which could point toward additional inconsistencies with the logbook. Keep in mind that not all of these records and types of information need to be gathered to prove that a driver violated hours-of-service regulations.
It is highly recommended that you have an experienced attorney assist you in gathering these records. While you might be able to look at the information yourself, experienced truck accident attorneys like those at our firm understand all of the hours-of-service regulations that truck drivers must follow, which is essential knowledge when attempting to prove that a violation has occurred. Our attorneys also understand how to make sure that vital evidence is preserved while a case is ongoing.
Steps to Take Following a Truck Accident
When someone has been injured in a truck accident, there are several important steps that they should follow before filing a personal injury claim. In most cases, the first step involves dialing 911 and reporting the accident. The police officers who arrive at the scene of the accident will typically take witness statements and obtain the insurance information of any drivers who were involved. If a driver of one vehicle believes that the other driver was at fault for the accident, they can benefit from taking pictures of the accident, which could be helpful in the event that a claim or lawsuit is filed.
If an injury occurs, it is very important to seek medical assistance immediately. The records that are kept at a hospital or doctor’s office will invariably be sought when a personal injury claim or lawsuit is filed. These medical records help to determine the extent of the injury, which can be useful when assessing how much compensation should be provided to the individual who filed the claim.
When to Obtain Help From a New Jersey Trucking Accident Attorney
If you have recently been involved in a truck accident and believe that driver fatigue played a part in the accident, our trucking accident lawyers can help you prove your case. Once you have received our free consultation and have decided to retain our services, we can start assisting you in building a strong and comprehensive case that takes every aspect of the accident into account. Our accident evaluation team can perform an exhaustive examination of the accident to determine who was at fault and obtain evidence that could back up these claims.
We can also help you fill out any documentation that is needed before filing an insurance claim or lawsuit. Many personal injury cases are settled before the case is taken to court, which requires back-and-forth negotiations. When these negotiations occur, we can provide you with the representation you need to work towards a desirable result. Our attorneys will also take the time to help you understand all of the details and intricacies related to your case. If you understand how these cases work, you should be more confident during the legal proceedings that follow.
When you are injured in a trucking accident, it is important that you seek legal representation soon after the accident occurs. To that end, our attorneys can help you figure out which legal options are available for your case. Call our New Jersey trucking accident lawyers today at (732) 394-1549 to start exploring your options.