Different set of “rules of the road”
The accident involving a truck, or a tractor trailer are unique accidents. We see and hear about fatal trucking accidents on our southern California freeways too frequently. A heavy rig is a dangerous vehicle when it loses control. Tractor trailer accidents involving large trucks are particularly frightening to drivers and truckers alike. Big trucks on highways and freeways can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians are no match for these trucks. California truck injury accidents generally result in very significant injuries to many parties. The trucking industry has a completely different set of “rules of the road”, and compliance with these rules is strict. There are close to 5000 deaths per year from truck accidents, more then 100,000 injuries per year from truck accidents, and close to 500,000 truck accidents per year. This is staggering.
Commercial drivers are often distracted by cell phone use to check on text messages or e-mails during the course of their day. The accidents that result from distracted driving result in serious injuries to those with whom commercial vehicles share the road.
Trucks are governed by both state and federal statutes.
The federal statute is found at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) classifies a truck as large if its gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) exceeds 10,000 pounds. Truck owners are required to carry liability insurance limits of no less then $750,000. States, such as California, has their own separate requirements.
In these accidents the police reports are generally more detailed, and more complete. The log books of the drivers are important, and often very revealing. There are a number of federal regulations that deal with trucks. These are found at 49 CFR 350 and beyond. They are too numerous and too voluminous to set forth herein. One of the questions that we are often asked is whether a driver is limited to the number of hours that he may drive. The short answer is yes. Set forth below are those requirements:
“CFR §395.3: MAXIMUM DRIVING TIME
A driver is forbidden to drive more than 10 hours following 8 straight hours off duty or for any period after having been on duty 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty. A motor carrier cannot require or even permit a driver, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver’s services, to drive for any period after having been on duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier doesn’t operate during the week. A driver is also prohibited from driving if he has been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates motor vehicles every day of the week.
49 CFR §395.8: DRIVER’S RECORD OF DUTY STATUS
This segment of the federal regulations states that a driver must either submit or forward by mail the original driver’s record of duty status to the regular employing motor carrier within 13 days following the completion of the form, and must retain a copy of each record of duty status for the previous 7 consecutive days and keep them available in his possession for inspection while on duty.
49 CFR §395.8: RETENTION OF DRIVER’S RECORD OF DUTY STATUS
Each motor carrier is required to maintain their records of duty status and all supporting documents for 6 months.”
It is important that an attorney get involved early in the case to protect the evidence, and hire both an investigator, and trucking expert. The insurance company will be on the case immediately and they will be conducting their investigation early, and often they have retained an attorney very early on.
Some of the important documents that an attorney will want to obtain are as follows: ISO Certificates, Inspection Records, Personnel files, Drug and Alcohol files, Safety Performance files, Official and Un Official Driving logs, all documents required under and pursuant to 49 CFR 395.8 (k), Cell phone records, fuel tax reports, State Safety Audits, DOT Inspection Reports, 7 and 89 Day Prior report forms, and all ECM Data.
California Truck Injury Accident Attorney
The Law Firm of Rivers J. Morrell III has significant experience in California truck injury accident cases. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured killed in a trucking accident, contact our Orange County personal injury law office to set up a free consultation. Rivers Morrell will personally discuss your options and advise you on the best course of action.