Hours of Service Rules
Many motor vehicle collisions occur due to driver fatigue. However, perhaps none of these collisions is as potentially devastating as a truck accident, due to the weight and size of commercial vehicles. In order to reduce the number of fatigued drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has promulgated hours of service rules that truck drivers in interstate commerce must follow. California patterned its hours of services rules for intrastate commerce on the federal hours of service rules, although there are some differences. If a trucker violates these rules, devastating harm may occur. The Los Angeles truck accident attorneys at Sharifi Firm are ready to assist you if you have been struck by a fatigued trucker.Holding a Trucker Accountable for Violating Hours of Services Rules
In intrastate commerce in California, a truck driver may not drive for more than 12 cumulative hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty or any period after the end of the 16th hour after going on duty after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Interstate drivers must comply with the federal hours of service regulations in 49 CFR 395. Property-carrying truck drivers cannot drive more than 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty after 10 consecutive off-hours. There are also regulations involving rest breaks. For example, under federal law, an interstate truck driver may drive only if eight or fewer hours have passed since the last off-duty or sleeper berth period of 30 minutes.
The hours of service rules were designed to protect other drivers on the road from fatigued truck drivers operating heavy equipment. In most cases, a driver whose failure to follow hours of service rules results in fatigued driving will be considered negligent. A negligence claim requires a plaintiff to establish the elements of duty, breach of duty, causation, and actual damages.
A truck driver's failure to abide by the appropriate hours of service rules may result in the driver being found negligent per se (negligent as a matter of law). This doctrine may apply when a safety standard is violated, the standard was intended to protect a class of people of which the plaintiff is a member, and the violation was the cause of the plaintiff's injuries. In most cases, when negligence per se applies, it is easier for a plaintiff to recover damages because the primary point of contention is the quantity of damages, rather than liability. Since drivers of commercial vehicles are required to maintain log books to record their hours of service, an experienced attorney may be able to prove the plaintiff's case more easily than with other types of legal theories.
In some cases, drivers use two log books, one that is falsified to show compliance with the rules and one that is truthful. A trucking company is required to keep track of its drivers’ log books and to be vigilant about its drivers’ honesty in connection with these books. A trucking company that looks the other way or encourages a falsified log book may be found directly liable for negligence or worse.Discuss Your Truck Accident Case with a Los Angeles Attorney
Hours of service rules violations can result in serious injuries or a wrongful death. Not all Los Angeles lawyers know how to assess whether there has been an hours of service violation, or whether there has been a falsification of the logbooks. It is crucial to retain a motor vehicle collision attorney with specific experience litigating these cases. Sharifi Firm also represents accident victims in Riverside, Long Beach, Rancho Cucamonga, San Fernando, San Bernardino, and Temecula, among other Southern California cities. Contact us at 1-866-422-7222 or via our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.