Regulators seek to improve road and highway safety by limiting the number of hours that truckers can drive. Under federal and state regulations, truck drivers who carry cargo in California must follow hours of service rules. For example, drivers may not log more than 11 hours of actual driving time. These rules were implemented to prevent them from operating their vehicles when they are too fatigued to drive safely.
California accident victims who have suffered serious injuries will be more likely to recover larger damages awards when they are represented by a personal injury lawyer. They will have a thorough understanding of the hours of service rules. Our attorneys at Salamati Law use their extensive knowledge of those rules when driver fatigue is a likely cause of a truck accident.
What conduct leads to violations of the hours of service rules?
Truck drivers have historically kept paper logs of their driving hours, but those logs are giving way to electronic devices (“ELDs”) that automatically do the job. A highway patrolman can check logbooks and ELDs to verify the driver’s compliance. Violations can lead to significant fines and temporary orders that keep the driver from operating their vehicle until they have had enough time off the road to rest.
Logbooks and ELDs are always crucial pieces of evidence. In Southern California, an experienced Los Angeles truck accident lawyer will always review that evidence to assess whether driver fatigue caused the accident.
How common are hours of service rule violations?
The full extent of hours of service rules violations is difficult to determine. The majority of truck drivers and trucking companies keep accurate logs and comply with the rules. However, they are complicated and truck drivers can be under enormous pressure to meet shipping deadlines. If a truck accident attorney in Los Angeles suspects that a driver was not in compliance with the rules before a collision, then that attorney will review logbooks and ELDs for specific factors, including:
- Form and manner violations, where the driver did not include all details that the rules require;
- “Not current” violations, where the driver has not properly updated a logbook or ELD;
- Stopping driving beyond time violations, in which a driver might continue to drive for more than 11 hours within a 14-hour total workday window;
- False record violations, where the driver or trucking company purposely records incorrect information about the driver’s total service hours;
- Failing to retain driving logs for at least seven days, where a driver is unable to produce logs or ELD records for the seven-day period immediately preceding an accident or suspected violation.
Will an Injured Motorist in California Automatically Recover Damages When a Truck Driver Has Violated Hours of Service Rules?
A motorist can recover damages for injuries in California following a collision with an 18-wheeler when their attorney can demonstrate that:
- The truck driver owed the motorist a duty to operate the truck safely
- The truck driver was in breach of that duty
- The truck driver’s breach was the proximate cause of a truck accident
- The accident resulted in injuries to the motorist.
A personal injury attorney will use violations of hours of service rules to demonstrate that the truck driver breached a duty of safety owed to other motorists. That breach, in and of itself, will not guarantee that the individual will recover damages. However, it will be an important element of their lawsuit against the truck driver and other responsible parties.
Contact Our Team of Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyers
Please see our website or call the Los Angeles offices of Salamati Law for a no-fee consultation about your opportunity to recover compensation after you have suffered injuries in a truck accident in Southern California. We have an in-depth understanding of the federal and state hour of service rules, and we use that understanding to fight for the largest available damages awards for our injured clients.