Tractor trailer accidents involve complex issues and require knowledge of Federal Regulations applicable to trucking companies. In order to win you need to prove that the truck driver or trucking company was negligent. Negligence is defined as the truck driver’s failure to use reasonable care that a careful and prudent truck driver would use in the same or similar circumstances.
Trucks that carry goods between states are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which promulgates regulations that truck drivers and trucking companies are required to follow. You can make a convincing case of negligence to a jury if you can prove not only that the truck driver was negligent in the manner her drove his the truck, but also if he violated one of the many federal regulations governing the conduct of truck drivers.
One of the most common violations what is known as the hours of service regulations. The hours of service regulations only apply to property carriers and drivers. Under the current hours of service regulations:
* Drivers may drive up to 11 hours instead of 10 hours, but are limited to 14 hours in a duty period.
* The 14-hour duty period may not be extended with off-duty time for meal and fuel stops, etc. Only the use of a sleeper berth can extend the 14-hour on-duty period.
* Each duty period must begin with at least ten hours off-duty, rather than eight.
* The 60 hours on-duty in 7 consecutive days, or 70 hours on-duty in 8 consecutive days, remains the same, but drivers can “restart” the 7/8- day period by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
Sleeper Berth Exception: Drivers may split on-duty time by using sleeper berth periods, but must comply with the new hours-of-service rules. These drivers may accumulate the equivalent of 10 consecutive hours off-duty by taking a combination of at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty and sleeper berth time; or by taking 2 periods of rest in the sleeper berth, provided:
* Neither period is less than 2 hour;
* Driving time in the period immediately before and after each rest period when added together does not exceed 11 hours; and
* The driver does not drive after the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 hours off-duty, where the 14th hour is calculated by: (A) Excluding any sleeper berth period of at least 2 hours which, when added to a subsequent sleeper berth period, totals at least 10 hours; and (B) Including all on-duty time, all off-duty time not spent in the sleeper berth, all sleeper berth periods of less than 2 hours, and any sleeper berth period not described in paragraph 3(A).
When a truck accident occurs the first thing an experienced truck accident attorney will do is have an investigator go to the scene to make sure physical evidence such as skid marks, locations of debris is preserved and inspect and photograph the vehicles invalid so the cause of the accident can be reconstructed by an accident reconstructionist. Once that is done a letter should be sent to the trucking company requesting that any black box data be preserved, as well as GPS data and the truck drivers logs be preserved along with any electronic logs maintained by the trucking company. With this information you once a law suit is filed you will have the information necessary to prove whether the truck driver violated the hours of service regulations, whether the driver falsified his logs but putting done times he rested when the electronic data proves he was actually driving and whether the trucking company was purposely ignoring these false entries.
One of the key to winning any case tried to a jury is to get the jury to side with your client. If you can show not only that the truck driver was negligent in the operation of his truck but also that he falsified his log book and his employer knew it, the jury is more likely to award a large verdict, or the insurance company will pay more to settle the case. That is why you are involved in a trucking accident, you should hire an experienced trucking accident lawyer like Jeff Lowe of the Lowe Law Firm. We work on a contingency basis and only charge you a fee if we recover for you. We also advance all expenses and only recover them if we win for you.