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Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck Crash Lawyers Fighting for Cleveland Area Victims

Fatigued truck drivers are more likely to cause accidents. It can take longer to react to changing road conditions, such as a stopped line of traffic or a car that cuts into traffic with insufficient space. They may simply fall asleep at the wheel or even momentarily doze off. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted regulations to restrict how long truck drivers may operate their vehicles without taking breaks. If truck driver fatigue caused a crash in which you were injured, the Cleveland truck accident attorneys at Rubin Guttman & Associates are ready to fight for your rights.

Hours of Service Rules

The FMCSA regulations that restrict how long a truck driver may operate a truck are called hours of service rules. They specify how long the driver may be behind the wheel without a break, be on duty, or work in a certain time period. Prior to the enactment of these regulations, many truck drivers were made to haul cargo for more than 80 hours each week without sleeping or resting.

Truck drivers who carry cargo may drive for at most 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. In other words, after a truck driver has driven for 11 hours, the driver needs to pull over and be off-duty for at least 10 hours in a row. Only after that 10-hour period has passed can they commence another 11-hour shift. Additionally, a truck driver needs to complete the 11 hours within a 14-hour period. For example, if a truck driver starts driving at 6 a.m., he absolutely needs to stop driving at 8 p.m., even if he stopped for certain periods to eat snacks, fuel the truck, or complete truck repairs during that 14-hour period and has not actually driven for a total of 11 hours. The driver needs to go off duty for at least 10 hours in a row before he can start driving again.

Additionally, once she has driven for eight hours, a truck driver is required to take a 30-minute break. If a truck driver keeps driving beyond the eight-hour mark without a break, he would be in violation of the rest break rule.

Drivers are only allowed to operate trucks for 60 hours during a seven-day period. This rule does not follow the normal Monday through Friday workweek but is reset based on a consecutive seven days. When a trucking company puts its trucks on the road Monday through Sunday, its truck drivers are only allowed to drive for 70 hours during eight consecutive days. Truck drivers also have the option of restarting their workweek at zero after 34 hours in an off-duty rest period.

Claims Based on Truck Driver Fatigue

If you were injured in a semi-truck crash or another truck accident caused by a fatigued commercial driver, your lawyer may be able to prove driver and trucking company negligence by identifying a violation of the FMCSA regulations. You may be entitled to compensation, Generally, to hold a truck driver liable, you will need to prove their negligence, or carelessness. You would likely be able to show negligence if, for example, a truck driver worked an 80-hour week and failed to meet the rest break requirements, and then the fatigued truck driver did not make a wide turn properly and crushed your car against a curb in a squeeze play accident. For another example, you should be able to show negligence if a truck driver failed to follow the FMCSA regulations and fell asleep at the wheel, crashing into your car on the highway. To prove truck driver negligence, your attorney will need to gather evidence about how long the truck driver operated his or her truck. Critical to this inquiry are the truck driver's logbooks and data from the truck’s black box, an electronic data recorder.

Trucking Company Liability

Trucking companies may also be liable for truck driver fatigue. For example, you may be able to show that a trucking company negligently supervised a truck driver by failing to check his logbooks or looking the other way as the truck driver falsified logbooks and drove while fatigued. Some trucking companies even encourage employees to break the hours of service rules, and then they may be liable for punitive damages.

Retain an Experienced Trucking Injury Attorney in the Cleveland Area

Truck driver fatigue can be deadly for people in smaller vehicles around a truck. At Rubin Guttman & Associates, our experienced injury lawyers can help you hold the appropriate parties responsible in a civil lawsuit for damages. You can call us at (216) 696-4006 or (888) 488-8529 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation today. We will arrange a time and place to meet that is convenient for you. Russian, Hebrew, and Spanish language services are available by appointment. We represent injured people in cities such as Cleveland, Parma, Lakewood, Euclid, Cleveland Heights, Strongsville, Akron, Columbus, Chardon, Toledo, Youngstown, Ravenna, Lorain, Mentor, Beachwood, and Elyria.

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I have had occasion to use Rubin Guttman and his firm numerous times over the last 25+ years. In every encounter I have been represented with outstanding professionalism, experience and quality. Rubin and his staff kept me informed of every step that was taken on my behalf. I always felt confident that my best interests were most important. It always helps to hire the best. Richard H. Devaney
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