Truck drivers are required to abide by specific hours-of-service regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which are intended to prevent truck driver fatigue. Unfortunately, because they work on tight deadlines, truck drivers sometimes violate those hours-of-service regulations, leading to devastating truck accidents.
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by drowsy driving, contact the New York truck accident lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. to speak with an attorney and get started on your truck accident claim.
What Are Hours-of-Service Regulations?
The FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations outline the maximum number of hours that a truck driver is allowed to be on duty when required to take breaks, how long their off-duty time must be, and other rules. Some of the primary regulations for large commercial trucks include:
- 11-hour driving limit – Truck drivers are permitted to drive no more than 11 hours after taking 10 consecutive hours off.
- 14-hour shift limit – Truck drivers are not allowed to work more than 14 hours per shift after taking 10 consecutive hours off. Even if they take breaks during this window, the 14-hour limit cannot be extended.
- 30-minute break – Truck drivers are required to take at least a half-hour break after being on the road for 8 consecutive hours without a break. The 30-minute break can be spent on duty (but not driving), resting in the sleeper berth, off-duty, as long as the break is at least 30 minutes long).
- 60/70 hour limit – Truck drivers are not allowed to work more than 60 hours in a seven-day period, nor can they work more than 70 hours in an eight-day period. Before starting a new 7 or 8 day period, truck drivers must be off-duty for at least 34 hours.
- Hazardous driving conditions – If a truck driver encounters hazardous conditions, such as inclement weather, while driving, they are permitted to extend their 11-hour driving limit and 14-hour shift limit by a maximum of 2 hours.
Drivers work on tight deadlines, and trucking companies are looking out for their bottom line, so it is not uncommon for drivers to exceed their hours-of-service limits. Unfortunately, doing so significantly increases the chances that a truck driver will become fatigued and cause a crash.
Proving an Hours-of-Service Violation After a Truck Crash
If you suffered severe injuries in a truck crash caused by drowsy driving, you could be entitled to pursue compensation from the truck driver and possibly the trucking company as well.
New York is a no-fault state, which means that motorists who are injured in an accident typically turn to their personal injury protection (PIP) plan for coverage. However, if you are seriously injured in an accident, you can often step outside New York’s no-fault law and bring a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit directly against the liable party.
To bring a successful claim, you will need to provide evidence that the truck driver was fatigued at the time of the accident. Some common types of evidence you can use to prove your case include:
- Truck driver logbooks
- The truck’s black box data
- Cell phone data and call logs
- Receipts from highway toll booths
- Weigh station receipts
- GPS tracking data
- Other receipts in the truck driver’s possession
Obtaining the necessary evidence can be challenging, especially if the truck driver or trucking company wants to avoid liability. They might be reluctant to hand over certain types of information that could potentially implicate them.
That’s why it is crucial to retain a New York injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident. An attorney will have the ability to secure and preserve vital evidence in your case through legal means if necessary. An experienced truck accident lawyer will also have the resources to thoroughly investigate the accident and determine whether an hours-of-service violation might have contributed to it.
What to Do If You Are Injured in a Truck Accident with a Fatigued Driver
If you are injured in a truck accident, there are specific steps you should take right away to protect your rights:
- Call 911 – Call law enforcement to the scene. They will create an accident report that contains a description of your injuries, the damage to each vehicle involved in the accident, witness contact details, and an initial determination of fault.
- Collect evidence at the scene – Take photos of your injuries and any damage to your vehicle. Ask nearby witnesses for their contact information so your attorney can contact them to provide a statement later.
- Seek medical attention – A medical professional should evaluate you within 72 hours after the accident. The sooner you seek treatment, the better chance you will have of successfully securing compensation for any injuries you sustained.
- Avoid social media – Don’t post about the accident on social media. Insurance adjusters frequently examine a claimant’s social media profiles looking for a reason to reduce or deny their claim. Avoid talking about the accident until your case is resolved.
Most importantly, you should hire an attorney at your earliest convenience. Trucking companies will sometimes tamper with or attempt to destroy evidence of hours-of-service violations, so your attorney will work quickly and efficiently to obtain the evidence needed to support your claim.
Contact Truck Accident Attorneys, Finz & Finz, P.C.
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by an hours-of-service violation, contact Finz & Finz, P.C. at 855-TOP-FIRM right away. Going up against large trucking companies and their insurers can be intimidating, and you will need competent legal representation to make the strongest possible case for compensation.
Our New York truck accident lawyers have extensive experience helping victims of truck driving crashes get answers and justice. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.