Driving a tractor-trailer can be a hard job, especially those who driver interstate routes. Tractor-trailer drivers are required to drive for long hours each day in order to meet the stringent delivery deadlines trucking companies require. Unfortunately, this often leads to truck drivers to attempt to skirt the federal regulations that are in place when it comes to rest and sleep requirements. This sleep deprivation has been proven time and time again to decrease a driver’s ability to safely operate these massive vehicles. Far too many fatal trucking crashes have occurred because a truck driver fell asleep while behind the wheel or was too tired to react quickly to a situation and prevent a deadly accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, contact the Virginia personal injury firm of Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to find out what legal options you may have against the parties responsible for the crash.
What Are the Rules on Truck Driver Rest Time?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency that is responsible for establishing and overseeing all rules and regulations for the trucking industry, including how many hours a truck driver can spend on the road. Currently, the FMSCSA allows truck drivers to operate their vehicles for a maximum of 11 hours, however, they must have been off duty for a minimum of 10 consecutive hours prior. If the truck driver was only off duty for eight hours prior to getting in their truck, then they are able to drive a maximum of 10 hours.
In order to make sure truck drivers are adhering to these rules, all drivers must keep a logbook that documents the hours they have been driving and when and how long they stopped to rest. Unfortunately, many truck drivers are under pressure to meet unreasonable delivery schedule requirements put in place by the company they driver for and often falsify their driving logs in order to stay on the road longer to meet these schedules.
When a victim has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, the truck accident attorney handling their case can use the truck driver’s logbook as evidence to prove fatigued driving. If the hours of driving and rest time recorded in the logbook do not match up with the gas receipts, toll receipts, delivery log, and other information, these inconsistencies are often strong evidence of falsified logbooks.
Establishing Fault in a Fatigued Truck Driving Accident
Although there may be evidence that the truck driver was fatigued and caused the crash, there are often other parties that can be held liable for these accidents. If the trucking company forced the truck driver to meet an unreasonable delivery schedule, the company can also be found liable (although trucking companies are usually held liable for the actions of their employees).
A truck accident could have more than one cause, resulting in multiple at-fault parties. For example, a truck accident could be the result of a fatigued driver and a defective truck part. The truck driver is so tired he fails to react quickly enough to stop because of traffic stopping ahead of him, but when he finally does react, there is a defective brake part that snaps and the truck does not stop in time, resulting in a horrific crash. Not only is the truck driver and trucking company liable for this crash, but the company that manufactured the defective brake part can also be held liable.
Victims of Truck Crashes
Truck accidents are more complex than other types of vehicle accidents and often have more than one at-fault party. Victims of truck accidents should consider retaining the services of an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney who will conduct a thorough investigation of the crash, including obtaining the driving and employment record of the truck driver, maintenance records, and other critical information which will help determine the cause of the crash and which parties are responsible.
If you or a family member has been injured in a truck accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a crash, contact a seasoned Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Even if it is not entirely clear who is the at-fault party, a Va. injury attorney will be able to determine which party or parties are liable. At Shapiro & Appleton, our injury attorneys have represented numerous truck accident victims and have the legal expertise to handle these complex cases with positive results.
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