Commercial truck drivers must follow state and federal laws to ensure the safety of other motorists sharing the roadway. One of the most important laws is the “hours of service” rule, which limits the amount of time that a truck driver can operate a vehicle before taking a break.
If you have been injured in a truck accident and believe the truck’s driver is at fault, do not hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney serving all of Florida and Washington, D.C.. At the Law Offices of Andre G. Raikhelson, we provide accident victims with a free, no obligation consultation to discuss their claim and determine if the other party can be held liable for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What Is the Hours of Service Rule?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created the hours of service rule to limit the amount of time a truck driver can operate a semi-truck during a single shift.
The hours of service rule is composed of several regulations that determine how a truck driver spends his or her shift, including the:
- Hours driving in one week – Truck drivers are limited to working 60 hours in a consecutive seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period.
- Hours driving in one day – Drivers who are transporting property can only drive 11 hours after having 10 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers who are transporting passengers are limited to drive 10 hours after having eight consecutive hours off duty.
- Required breaks – Commercial truck drivers are required to take a break for at least 30 minutes after driving for eight consecutive hours.
Why is the Hours of Service Rule Important?
The hours of service rule was created by the FMCSA to reduce the risk of truck accidents caused by driver fatigue.
This often occurs when truck drivers are pressured to meet tight or unrealistic deadlines, resulting in drivers spending an unsafe amount of time operating a commercial vehicle.
What Happens When the Hours of Service Rule Is Violated?
If the hours of service rule is violated, there can be many serious consequences for the truck driver and the trucking company, such as these violations:
- The driver is not allowed to operate a commercial vehicle until he or she has accumulated enough break time to be in compliance with the rules
- Trucking companies that allow, encourage or enforce drivers to violate the hours of service rule may face serious federal penalties
- Truck drivers and trucking companies that violate the hours of service rule may be fined between $1,200 and $14,700 per violation, depending on the severity of the offense
- The trucking company’s safety rating can be reduced if there is a pattern of hours of service rule violations
Who Can Be Held Liable for an Hours of Service Rule Violation?
There are several parties that can be held liable for an hours of service rule violation, including the truck’s driver and the trucking company that employs the driver.
To determine the cause of your truck accident, an attorney will conduct an in-depth investigation by reviewing the driver’s behavior and the direction of the semi-truck during the time of the crash. Additionally, truck drivers are required to record the number of hours they spend driving and on break in a detailed log book. Your lawyer can obtain a copy of the driver’s log to find out if he or she followed procedure by keeping record of his or her driving hours.
Furthermore, trucking companies can be held liable for a truck accident if your attorney can prove the company forced the driver to violate the hours of service rule. This often occurs when trucking companies impose unrealistic deadlines that drivers are forced to meet.
However, many trucking companies attempt to avoid liability after an accident by claiming the driver is an independent contractor and not an employee. In this case, your attorney can review the terms of the driver’s employment, as well as the trucking company’s delivery schedule and policies to determine if it may be held liable for violating the hours of service rule.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
After a truck accident, many victims face serious injuries that result in extensive medical treatment, loss of income, and significant pain and suffering.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, the Law Offices of Andre G. Raikhelson has compassionate attorneys understand the difficulties you and your loved ones may be experiencing. We will provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to help you determine if you have a case against the truck’s driver or trucking company involved in the collision. If your accident was caused by another party’s negligence, we will not hesitate to pursue the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.
We provide all of our services on a contingency fee basis. This means our attorneys will represent your claim for no upfront cost and will only require payment if we recover compensation for your claim.