Could a Co-Driver Be Responsible for Causing Your Truck Crash?
Victims of a truck accident may incorrectly assume that there is only one driver in the commercial vehicle. However, companies often have two truckers drive together on a trip. Referred to as team driving or co-driving, this practice allows one person to drive while the other rests, often after completing the maximum number of hours he or she can operate the rig according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours of service regulations.
In some cases, the co-driver is the cause of or contributes to a truck wreck by negligent actions. Consequently, he or she could be responsible for compensating accident victims for their injuries.
When Could a Co-Driver Be Liable for Truck Accident Injury Compensation?
In a team driver scenario, either operator could be at fault while behind the wheel. In addition, the co-driver may also face responsibility when he or she is resting or in the passenger seat of the cab. Co-drivers could be found negligent in these situations:
- Dangerous conditions. If a co-driver knows that allowing the primary driver to operate the rig would be dangerous and lets it happen anyway, he or she may be found partially at fault in causing the accident. For example, if the partner was obviously fatigued; intoxicated due to drug or alcohol use; ill; or distracted by cellphone use; the co-driver may be found negligent.
- Hours of Service violations. The co-driver could violate hours of service regulations, which require him to spend a certain number of hours of his or her rest period in the sleeping berth instead of the passenger seat. A partner trucker might also encourage the other to violate these rules. In addition, both drivers are required to complete information regarding their driving and rest times in the truck’s log book. The co-driver could be accountable if the truck’s log book is altered, missing information, or shows violations of the rules.
- Horsing around. If the co-driver is engaged in horseplay in the cab at the time of the wreck, he or she could face liability for the accident.
- Distracting the driver. If the co-driver was distracting the primary driver in any way, including cellphone use, playing loud music, or other behaviors, this is another basis for possible injury compensation.
If more than one trucker was in the cab at the time of your accident, you need the help of an experienced truck accident attorney to determine if the co-driver is also responsible for compensating you. To learn how I can help you hold all liable parties accountable, call my office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.