Truck Accident Lawyers Serving Injured Victims of Truck Accidents in New York City
Employers must provide their employees with safe and healthy workplaces. This requirement applies even if the workplace happens to be the inside of a truck. In fact, because the trucking industry is one of the most dangerous, there are additional safety rules and requirements for truck drivers and their employers. Government officials take violations very seriously. Trucking industry violations can lead to hefty fines, suspensions, and most seriously, catastrophic accidents.
What are the most common trucking industry violations?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) lays down several rules and limitations concerning how long truck drivers can drive without taking a break, what they can do while driving, and what types of maintenance and inspections must be completed on trucks.
These rules and regulations are in place to keep fatigued drivers and unsafe commercial vehicles off of our roads.
Violating these rules can result in steep fines and losing the ability to drive and work as a truck driver. The actions that lead to violations are also likely to increase the risk of dangerous traffic accidents. If such an accident occurs, serious civil and even criminal liability will result.
Hours of Service Violations
Truck drivers transporting cargo may only complete 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour time period. FMCSA allots three extra hours of time for non-driving activities such as fueling, eating meals, waiting for inspections or repairs, or simply taking a break to stretch your legs.
Before starting a new shift, truck drivers must log at least 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time. Additionally, drivers must take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving.
If the driver is transporting passengers instead of cargo, then FMCSA limits them to 10 hours of driving within a 15-hour time period. They must also complete at least eight hours of consecutive off-duty hours before starting a shift.
Depending on whether a trucking company operates its vehicles every day of the week, drivers can have seven or eight consecutive days in a “work week.” In any given work week, truckers may not drive more than 60 or 70 total hours. Drivers can “restart” their work weeks after at least 34 hours of consecutive off-duty hours.
If a police officer catches a driver violating the hours of service rules, the driver faces a ticket and being placed “out of service.”
Additionally, drivers and their companies will face severe penalties if FMCSA discovers any violations.
If the driver causes an accident after being on duty too long, any victims can hold the driver — and the trucking company — liable for any damages.
Mobile Phone Violations
While many states have bans or restrictions in place for cell phone use while driving in their states, FMCSA has taken it one step further by making it illegal for truck drivers to text or use their hands to make a phone call while driving.
Drivers may use their phones hands-free function to make phone calls, so long as they can do so with the press of a single button. FMCSA’s rules for truck drivers include:
- No holding
- No dialing
- No texting
- No reading
Regardless of the cell phone rules in the particular state, truck drivers will face serious repercussions if they are caught using a mobile device behind the wheel including fines of up to $2,750 for drivers and $11,000 for employers. Multiple violations can also result in driver disqualification.
Vehicle Inspection Violations
All truck drivers must complete regular repairs, maintenance, and inspections on their vehicles according to FMCSA rules. During a typical inspection, a trained inspector will check the driver time log, driver’s license, and other paperwork. The inspector will also check the vehicle’s breaks, headlights, cargo securement, tires, exhaust system, coupling devices, and many other parts.
Violations can result in steep fines and the driver being placed out of service.
Who is liable if trucking violations cause an accident?
If a truck driver causes an accident because of an industry violation, victims can hold the trucking company or carrier liable due to a concept called vicarious liability. This concept holds that employers are liable for the actions of their employees, as long as the employee was acting within the scope of his employment.
A carrier may also be directly liable if it requires, encourages, or allows violations of industry rules. For example, the carrier would be directly liable for violations if the carrier required its drivers to text updates to them while driving or forced them to drive longer than the maximum allowed hours.
What should I do after a crash with a truck driver?
If you were involved in a traffic accident with a commercial truck and wish to file suit against them, you or your attorney must take special steps to preserve important pieces of evidence.
First, you must send a letter of spoliation to the trucking company as soon after the accident as possible in order to preserve evidence that will be of crucial importance to your case. If you do not send this letter, the trucking company may be within its rights to destroy certain pieces of evidence.
Several pieces of evidence can establish that the truck driver and carrier were in violation of industry rules. This will help your case.
Important pieces of evidence include:
- The driver’s logbook showing hours driven
- Dispatch logs
- Cell phone records showing call history and data usage
- The driver’s personnel file and any background or drug test results
- Photographs and videos of the accident
- Maintenance records for the vehicle
- Inspection reports
- The carrier’s employee handbook or list of protocols
You must act quickly after the accident. The truck accident attorneys at The Rybak Firm, PLLC in Brooklyn, New York are here to help you in your time of need. We will file a letter of spoliation on your behalf, collect evidence, and help you build your case from the ground up.
Contact us today to schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation: 718-307-5554.