Have you or a loved one been in an accident with a truck or commercial vehicle? Unfortunately, truck accidents are more common than they should be and the legal ramifications are more complicated than non-commercial accidents due to the increase in interested parties.
Determining who is at fault and proving negligence in a commercial motor vehicle accident is the most important factor for receiving the compensation you’re entitled to. Many drivers are overworked and with long hours of driving, can become distracted causing accidents. If you have been in a truck accident, it is your right to know if the driver is in violation of excessively long driving hours. One of the most common ways to do this is by proving that the truck driver was in violation of hours of service regulations.
Below we have provided some basic information about truck driving hours of service rules to help you better understand if you have a winnable claim.
What are HOS Rules?
Hours of Service (HOS) rules are set in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to regulate duty time and set driving limits for commercial vehicle drivers. These laws attempt to limit the amount of accidents on roadways due to fatigued and overworked drivers.
Hour of Driving Time
A driver may only be on duty for a consecutive 14 hours. This “on duty” period includes driving time and any loading or unloading period. Of these 14 hours, the driving period may only be 11 hours. This alotts 3 hours for non-driving tasks.
A driver may only be on duty for 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. The 7 or 8 day period can be restarted after 34 consecutive hours off duty.
A driver must spend 10 hours off duty before beginning a 14 hour shift.
A 30 minute break from driving is required after every 8 consecutive hours of driving. The driver may complete non-driving tasks on duty at this time but may not resume driving until after 30 consecutive break minutes.
The 11 hour driving limit may be exceeded by up to 2 hours in the event of adverse driving conditions such as poor weather only if the adverse conditions could not be known before the duty period began.
Once per week (7 consecutive days), certain property carrying drivers can extend a 14 hour shift by 2 hours for a total of 16 hours if they qualify for this exemption. It is important to note that this does not extend the 11 hour driving limit, but the 14 hour duty limit.
This is referred to as the short-haul exception. Drivers may qualify for this extension only if:
- the driver is returning to their work reporting location
- they have reported to this location the previous 5 consecutive days
- the driver is released within 16 hours
- the driver has not used this exception in the last 6 consecutive days
Hiring a Trucking Accident Attorney
These driving hours of service rules can be complicated to understand for anyone not familiar with the driving profession. As an affected party from a truck driving accident, it is not your responsibility to know the ins and outs of HOS rules. Your role is to bring your claim and any information you have regarding the accident to an experienced attorney.
Personal injury attorneys who are experienced with truck accident claims are the best route for seeking compensation. This attorney will be familiar with hours of driving rules and will know the best way to prove and win your claim.
Strickland and Kendall have helped thousands of clients in personal injury lawsuits since 1994. We offer exceptional service and expertise in truck accident claims and have a proven track record of success.
If you were injured in a commercial truck accident and believe you have a claim, contact our legal team at 334.269.3230 to begin discussing your case to get you the compensation you deserve.