Hours of Service Violations: Understanding Your Rights When a Fatigued Truck Driver Violation FMCSA Rules Hurts You
No one can dispute the fact that drunk driving or drugged driving is a form of dangerous driving. The statistics on drunk driving is overwhelming and well-known. But what most people do not realize is that fatigued driving or drowsy driving increases a driver’s risk of crashing to that of a drunk driver, according to AAA. While fatigued driving is dangerous for everyone, fatigued driving for a truck driver is even more dangerous. This is because commercial vehicles are already inherently dangerous and difficult to drive. When a truck driver is operating a vehicle at a less-than optimal level or is tired, he or she could have a slower reaction time or fall asleep behind the wheel. This effectively turns a large truck into a battering ram on our roadways in NYC. Unfortunately, some truck drivers push themselves too far in order to earn more money—even if it is illegal or against Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules. Therefore, when a fatigued truck driver violating FMCSA rules causes serious personal injuries to you or a loved one, ask our Queens trucking accident lawyer for a FREE consultation how to protect your rights to compensation under New York law.
Here at Cohen and Cohen Law Group, P.C., our experienced Queens trucking accident lawyer knows how to investigate, prove, and hold a defendant truck driver and trucking company liability for FMCSA violations. We have experience fighting back against some of the largest and most difficult insurance companies in the country who try to minimize a victim’s damages, undervalue a claim, and protect a dangerous driver. But a fatigued driver is a dangerous driver, and if trucking companies are willing to violate FMCSA rules and New York law to earn higher profits are the expense of your safety, we will hold them accountable. Call our NYC personal injury law firm to learn how we can help you and your family handle a motor vehicle accident occurring in Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, Long Island, or anywhere else in New York.
What are FMCSA Rules Regarding Fatigued Driving?
The FMCSA is a federal agency that is responsible for commercial vehicles like 18 wheelers, tankers, semi tractor trailers, and other large box trucks or flatbeds. It does not matter what state the vehicle is from, in, going to, or where the truck driver or trucking company is from—FMCSA rules apply throughout the United States. These rules set the minimum standards everywhere.
One of the most important and extensive areas of regulation is the hours of service rules. Also known as HOS, these rules create a 24 hour shift clock and regulate how much time a truck driver can be on duty, off duty, and how many hours can be worked in a 7 and 8 day period. Trucking companies cannot force a truck driver to violate these rules with unrealistic trucking schedules. Truck drivers that cause personal injuries in a Queens trucking accident may have the violation of an FMCSA regulation be used against them as evidence of negligence.
Some of the specific regulations regarding the HOS include the following:
- Maximum on shift of 14 hours (consecutive)
- Minimum off shift of 10 hours (consecutive)
- Maximum of 11 hours of driving in a 14 hour on shift
- Maximum of 8 hours of consecutive driving before a 30-minute rest is required
- Minimum of 3 hours of rest per 14 hour on shift
- Truck drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in any 7/8 consecutive day window, and
- Other rules which may apply.
Proving HOS Violations Causing Fatigued Trucking Accidents in New York City
Our Queens trucking accident lawyers know that the HOS regulations by the FMCSA are aimed to keep truck drivers from suffering mental and physical fatigue. Even physical fatigue of driving long hours can take a toll and make a motorist less accurate in maneuvers and react slower.
If a truck driver causes a trucking accident while violating the HOS regulations, a victim must show by a preponderance of the evidence 1) liability, 2) causation, and 3) damages. A preponderance of the evidence is an evidentiary burden that requires a party to prove that their story is more likely than not the correct story. This means that it is 51%, unlike the beyond reasonable doubt standard which is up to 98%-100%.
Liability can be proven with help of a FMCSA rule violation. The violation could be used as evidence of negligence against the truck driver and trucking company.
As for causation, this is usually the most contested part of an action. Proving that the truck driver’s fatigue and violation of the FMCSA resulted in a victim’s damages could be easy in some cases. But in other cases an expert may be necessary to review the truck’s computers, logbook, or even re-construct the scene of the accident.
Damages are typically the injuries and effects of a Queens trucking accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, loss of consortium, and other injuries. Pain and suffering, however, is usually the largest type of damages. A victim will need to prove these damages, and usually does with an expert or their treating physicians. Connecting the damages to liability is also required and a part of causation. This may sound simple, but many times a defense lawyer or insurance lawyer will argue that a victim had pre-existing injuries.
Ask Our Queens Trucking Accident Lawyers for Help
If you or a loved one were injured by a truck driver, you may not even realize it but the truck driver may have caused your crash and injuries due to fatigue or HOS violations. This is because truck drivers, insurance companies, and trucking companies will lie about the facts and the time a trucker has driving to avoid liability. Do not let this happen.
Call our experienced Queens trucking accident lawyers at Cohen and Cohen Law Group, P.C. for a FREE consultation to learn how we can help protect your rights to compensation under New York law. Learn more by calling 800-247-8164 for a free case evaluation or use our convenient and easy-to-use contact us box available here.