How to Prove Trucker Hours of Service Violations Caused Your Accident
Truck driver fatigue contributes to many tragic truck accidents. There are similar limitations to operating a big rig while drowsy as there are while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is even more of a problem for truckers who drive long hours without a break.
If you've been involved in a large truck accident, proving that a semi operator violated the federal hours of service regulations can be important to your case. These regulations determine how long a trucker can safely be on the road. Your recourse for compensation may be to hold both the driver and trucking company responsible.
Proving Violation of the Hours of Service Rules
The hours of service rules are designed to ensure that truck drivers get enough sleep when on the road. They allow a trucker to work for 14 hours, but he can only drive for 11 of these hours. In addition, he must be off work for 10 consecutive hours prior to the start of a new shift. He's limited to working 60 hours in a 7-day period, or 70 hours in an 8-day period.
To prove a driver violated these rules, you'll need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney. Here are some examples of evidence an attorney may collect in your case:
- Driver’s logs. Under federal regulations, a trucker is required to complete a driver log for each trip. This should show when he was on and off duty. However, these records may be fabricated by a negligent driver, so an attorney should dig deeper.
- On-board recording devices. Many trucks are equipped with on-board recording devices. Comparing this data to a driver's log could uncover inconsistencies regarding how long the trucker really drove without a break.
- Cellphone data and emails. Reviewing cellphone records and emails could also help show the hours a trucker was really working and prove his trucking company knew of hours of service violations. In addition, these records might establish that the truck driver was distracted by talking on a cellphone or texting while driving.
- Receipts. Gas, food, toll booth, and other receipts can help prove what the truck driver was really doing during the course of his trip.
- Bills of lading. Most shippers and receivers who sign the bills of lading will also note the time on this document. This can show the true times that the load was picked up and when it was delivered, and be used if there's suspicion of hours of service violation.
- Trucking company records. Training manuals, procedures, and other documents of the trucking company can help prove its representatives or policies encouraged or allowed the driver to work more than permitted hours. The company has a duty to regulate the trucker’s road hours and not allow him to include inaccurate information in his driver’s log.
These are just some of the documents your attorney could use to prove that a truck driver’s hours of service violations caused your accident. If you were hurt in a wreck caused by a negligent trucker, review my case results to see how I've helped other clients, then call our office to schedule a free consultation.