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COMMERCIAL VEHICLE/TRUCKING ACCIDENTS
This article addresses how to maximize your recovery from a trucking accident by detailing what types of documentation you and your attorney should request and examine.
Were you the victim of a truck accident? Injuries from trucking accidents can be catastrophic. According to a 2016 National Transportation Safety Group study, $144 billion in goods are shipped annually to and from Nevada, mostly by truck. Commercial trucking accidents present interesting personal injury issues and usually make very good injury cases because the trucking company nearly always has insurance. If you were involved in an trucking accident, you should definitely seek the advice of an attorney. The trucking industry is very heavily regulated, and a good accident attorney knows the right questions to ask. He or she also known that there is a wealth of information to gather and inspect to help you win your case. Specifically, in your case, you may want to investigate the following information to see if any of these factors contributed to your accident.
WHAT IS A COMMERICAL TRUCK?
What is a commercial truck?
A commercial truck is defined under The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) Title 49 CFR, Part 390.5 as a vehicle which:
Has a GVWR or GCWR of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds.) or more, whichever is greater; or
Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver), and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103.
HOURS OF DRIVING— DID THE TRUCK DRIVER DRIVE WITHIN THE TIME PERIODS ALLOWED BY LAW?
- Hours of driving. The number of hours the driver can operate is defined by 49 CFR § 395.3. That law provides:
(1) Start of shift. A driver may not drive without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty;
(2) 14-hour period. A driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
(3) Driving time and rest breaks.
(i)Driving time. A driver may drive a total of 11 hours during the 14-hour period specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
(ii)Rest breaks. Except for drivers who qualify for either of the short-haul exceptions in § 395.1(e)(1) or (2), driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.
(B) No motor carrier shall permit or require a driver of a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle to drive, nor shall any driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver’s services, for any period after –
(1) Having been on duty 60 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier does not operate commercial motor vehicles every day of the week; or
(2) Having been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week.
(C) (1) Any period of 7 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours that includes two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
(2) Any period of 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours that includes two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
(D) A driver may not take an off-duty period allowed by paragraph (c) of this section to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days until 168 or more consecutive hours have passed since the beginning of the last such off-duty period. When a driver takes more than one off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours within a period of 168 consecutive hours, he or she must indicate in the Remarks section of the record of duty status which such off-duty period is being used to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.
Nevada also has a similar provision governing how many hours a driver can drive. Under NRS 706.682, a motor carrier shall not drive:
- Within a 24 hour period, more than 12 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty, or for any number of hours after having accrued more than 15 consecutive hours of on-duty time, or
- Within any period of 7 consecutive days, after having accrued 70 hours of on-duty time.
DOCUMENTATION OF DRIVING STATUS—DOES THE DOCUMENTATION SHOW THE DRIVER DIDN’T FOLLOW THE LAW?
Under CFR §395.8, a driver must keep very specific documentation about his trips (logs) which he gives to the motor carrier. The motor carrier is only required to keep the logs for a period of not less than 6 months from the date of receipt, thus it is essential to request these logs immeditely.
According to CFR §395.8, drivers must record their status for each 24-hour period.
These logs (automatic on-board recording devices) will be electronic the majority of the time, absent a few exceptions. If the log is not electronic, there is a very specific manner in which the records must be kept on a grid.
The logs must show the driver’s duty status, specifically when the driver was driving, sleeping, off duty or on duty but not driving, and each status change must indicate the name of the city or town or highway number where the change occurred. Other information will include:
- The date;
- Total miles driven that day;
- The truck or tractor and trailer number;
- The name of carrier;
- The driver’s signature/certification;
- The 24-hour period starting time (e.g. midnight, 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m.);
- Main office address;
- Name of co-driver;
- Total hours (far right edge of grid);
- Shipping document number(s), or name of shipper and commodity;
DOES THE SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION ADD UP?
Under CFR § 395.3, drivers must provide the motor carrier with locations, dates, and times for:
(i) Each bill of lading, itinerary, schedule, or equivalent document that indicates the origin and destination of each trip;
(ii) Each dispatch record, trip record, or equivalent document;
(iii) Each expense receipt related to any on-duty not driving time;
(iv) Each electronic mobile communication record, reflecting communications transmitted through a fleet management system; and
(v) Each payroll record, settlement sheet, or equivalent document that indicates payment to a driver.
Also, if the driver is required to keep a paper record, you may wish to ask for toll receipts to support your claim.
ARE YOU SUING THE CORRECT PARTY? IS THERE MORE COVERAGE AVAILABLE?
It is common for drivers and companies to lease trucks. In every commercial trucking crash case, you need to examine who actually owns the vehicle, especially if you suspect there might be a problem with the maintenance of the vehicle which contributed to the collision.
Is the vehicle leased? If so, the lease needs to be in writing under 49 CFR 376.11. You should request and examine the lease because it should contain essential information about the vehicle, and the date and time it was delivered to the authorized carrier.
THE NEVADA HIGHWAY PATROL, COMMERICAL ENFORECEMENT SECTION
Under NRS 480.360, the Highway Patrol, Commercial Enforcement Section is responsible for the enforcement of state and federal motor vehicle laws and vehicle size and weight laws. Any personal injury/accident case should include a document request from the Nevada Highway Patrol about the commercial vehicle, driver, and motor carrier.
If you were involved in a truck accident in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Aliante, Summerlin, or anywhere else in Southern Nevada, call a Las Vegas Trucking accident lawyer now. Our lawyers at Hinds Injury Law Las Vegas offer a free initial consultation and confidential case review. You can reach us at (702) 940-1234.
Hinds Injury Law Las Vegas
600 S 8th St Suite 140, Las Vegas, NV 89101