In Los Angeles, commercial truck driver fatigue can lead to catastrophic injuries for pedestrians and drivers of smaller vehicles. Fatigue can lead to a driver falling asleep at the wheel and rear-ending the vehicle in front, or lead to a driver veering into oncoming traffic. A fatigued truck driver is less likely to have the quick reflexes necessary to respond to sudden events on the road. At Sharifi Firm, PLC our experienced truck accident attorneys can help determine if truck driver fatigue was the cause of an accident and fight for damages on your behalf.California Liability for Truck Driver Fatigue
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires truck drivers driving a commercial motor vehicle to follow hours of service rules. A truck driver carrying only property can drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 back-to-back off-duty hours. A truck driver may not drive beyond the 14th hour after getting on duty, after 10 hours off duty. Truck drivers must take mandatory rest breaks; they can start driving again only if 8 hours or fewer have passed since their last off-duty break of at least 30 minutes. No truck driver can drive after 60-70 hours on duty in 7 or 8 back-to-back days.
All truck drivers are required to keep logbooks of the hours they work. Some drivers falsify these books either of their own volition or because of an unwritten work policy. A failure to follow the hours of service requirements (or a falsification of a log book) can be a basis of negligence per se. Under the doctrine of negligence per se, a plaintiff will need to show (1) a violation of a statute or regulation, (2) the violation caused an accident, and (3) the accident was of the type that the statute or regulation was designed to prevent.
Trucking companies often have insurance policies with greater liability coverage than an individual truck driver's policy. A trucking company can be held indirectly liable based on the doctrine of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Under this doctrine, an employer can be held liable for an employee's tortious acts or omissions if these occur in the course and scope of the employee's employment. In some cases, employers classify their truck drivers as independent contractors to avoid responsibility for their negligence. However, even when a truck driver is formally misclassified, there are ways to show that the driver is actually an employee and the truck company should be held responsible for his tortious conduct.
If the truck driver fatigue is based on a trucking company's policies and procedures, the trucking company can be held directly liable. Before hiring a truck driver, a trucking company is required to conduct a background check. Moreover, while the truck driver is in the company's employ, he or she needs to be properly supervised. Failure to conduct an appropriate background check where a check would have revealed a truck driver's prior transgressions or accidents can lead to a trucking company being held responsible for negligent hiring.Consult a Riverside Truck Accident Attorney
If you were seriously injured in Riverside due to truck driver fatigue, let our experienced attorneys bring a lawsuit against the driver and any other responsible parties. Truck accident cases have unique issues and it's important to retain an attorney who understand the regulations that govern truck driver conduct in Rancho Cucamonga, Temecula, and San Bernardino, and who have experience negotiating with truck accident insurers. Contact us at 1-866-422-7222 or via our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.