Truck accidents often leave victims with catastrophic, and at times permanent, injuries. These tragedies can also cost victims hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and more.
Given the potentially devastating consequences of truck accidents, it is important for you to understand your options if you are involved in one. By filing a truck accident claim, you may recover compensation for your injuries, hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions, and protect other drivers on the road.
In order to increase a claim’s chance of success, you must gather strong evidence. Learn how the data from an electronic logging device can help strengthen your claim.
What Are the Federal Regulations for Truckers?
Many truck accidents are caused by driver fault, including driver distraction, driver inattention, and driver intoxication. In an effort to curb a major culprit--drowsy truckers--the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented hours-of-service regulations that all truckers must follow. The main hours-of-service regulation is as follows:
- Requires break of at least 30 consecutive minutes after 8 cumulative hours of driving time and allows an on-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break.
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule, including:
- Short-haul exception: Expands the short-haul exception to 150 air-miles and allows a 14-hour work shift to take place as part of the exception.
- Adverse driving conditions exception: Expands the driving window during adverse driving conditions by up to an additional 2 hours.
Although the hours-of-service regulation is a federal law, many truckers violate it for a variety of reasons. Trucking companies often give their drivers positive and negative incentives for meeting unreasonable delivery deadlines, including financial incentives or threats of termination.
As a result, truckers may skip their required 30-minute break, which greatly affects their alertness, which is extremely dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowsy driving can be just as risky as drunk driving:
- Being awake for at least 18 hours is the same as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%, which is higher than the legal limit for commercial drivers of 0.04%.
- Being awake for at least 24 hours is equal to having a BAC of 0.10%, which is higher than the legal limit for all drivers.
Luckily, many trucks are now equipped with electronic logging devices that automatically track a truck’s location and speed. This technology may help reduce the number of drowsy truckers on the road, and can prove vital in strengthening a truck accident claim.
What’s an Electronic Logging Device?
An electronic logging device (ELD) synchronizes with a vehicle’s engine to automatically record driving time. ELDs were congressionally mandated as part of MAP-21, and are intended to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data. ELDs have proven effective; they prevent approximately 1,844 crashes and save approximately 26 lives every year.
The ELD rule applies to nearly all large trucks and buses on the road. ELDs record accurate information via the following process:
- ELD synchronizes with commercial vehicle engines to automatically record data, including vehicle motion status, miles driven, engine hours, and more.
- Driver certifies records and makes any necessary annotations.
- Driver begins the data transfer, which is then routed to a safety official.
- A safety official flags potential hours-of-service violations.
Since ELD data is difficult to forge or delete, it can serve as a crucial piece of evidence in a truck accident claim to prove hours-of-service violations.
Why File a Truck Accident Claim?
In the wake of a devastating truck accident, it may feel overwhelming to file suit against a large trucking company. However, it is important to remember that truck accident claims must be filed in a certain amount of time in order to recover compensation. In California, the “statute of limitations” for a truck accident claim is two years, in most cases. So, it’s in your best interest to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible so you don’t miss out on recovering the funds that you may need for medical bills, lost wages, and more.
Some injuries do not present symptoms until weeks or months later. So, even if you do not feel seriously injured right now, you could develop debilitating symptoms down the line. This is why it’s vital to recover as much compensation as you can by filing a truck accident claim, because you don’t know when you will need it in the future.
Additionally, trucking companies must be held accountable for their negligence. Many instances of drowsy driving among truckers is due to pressure from their employers. By filing a truck accident claim, you may hold the trucking company responsible for their negligence and, in so doing, protect other drivers from similar accidents.
Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact Us Today
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, our San Jose personal injury attorneys are here to help. We have helped countless clients recover the compensation they need after serious accidents and injuries, and we may be able to do the same for you.
Call Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP at (800) 900-0863 to schedule a free consultation.