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Hours-of-service rules can prevent truck crashes

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | Trucking Liability

When drivers are sharing the road with large trucks, it is natural to be somewhat intimidated and concerned. One mistake, wrong move, defect with the vehicle or wrongdoing by the truck company can cause an accident with injuries and death.

To try and maintain a safe environment, there are rules in place that regulate many aspects of trucking. One issue that remains a problem is drivers going beyond their limits for time on the road. There are hours-of-service rules drivers must adhere to. However, there are times when it is difficult to discern who is responsible if a driver has gone beyond the limits and had an accident. One recent case exemplifies this issue.

Texas Supreme Court grants request to revive lawsuit

The Texas Supreme Court recently heard a dispute between a trucker and the trucking company he drove for. The driver asserted that the company forced him to go beyond the hours-of-service truckers must adhere to and that led to a crash. He fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended another truck, suffering severe injuries.

The trucker had been awarded $14 million due to company negligence by an appeals court. The Supreme Court will assess the case to determine whether the award should be lowered or reversed completely. An obstacle for the driver is whether he was an actual employee at the time of the collision.

The driver said that the owner of the company coerced him into surpassing the limits. As the case proceeded, it was found that the married couple that owns the company had asked drivers to go beyond the legal limits and doctor logbooks meant to record their time on the road. The driver was concerned about his job and did what he was asked to do.

Initially, after the driver filed lawsuits against the three companies the owners had, he was awarded $80 million. That, however, was reduced substantially. There is an ongoing disagreement about the driver and whether he was an independent contractor or an employee. The case will be sent back to the appeals court to assess the matter.

Truck company and trucker liability can be confusing

While this is a dispute between a trucker and the company he worked for, any truck accident might hinge on trucking liability. That could involve the manufacturer of the truck if there were issues that made it malfunction; the owners who could have played a role in a dangerous circumstance; or driver behavior causing a collision. Liability is key regardless of the perspective and those seeking to pursue a claim or defend against a legal filing should know their options.