The Cooper Law Firm is a truck accident lawyer in Texas that works with individuals who have been injured in truck accidents. Truck accident claims can be more complex than passenger vehicle accidents for many reasons, with one of those reasons being that truck companies are subject to stricter regulations than passenger vehicle operators. One of the regulations that truck companies are required to follow are hours of service laws. These laws restrict how long a driver can be on the road and are designed to ensure that truck drivers are not operating trucks while tired. However, recent changes to the hours of service laws could impact how truck accident lawsuits might be handled.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration notes several changes to the hours of service laws. These changes include:
- Increased flexibility regarding the 30-minute breaks drivers are required to take.
- Increased flexibility about how drivers can split their required 10 hours off-duty. Drivers can split their required time off-duty into 7 and 3 hour chunks or 8 and 2 hour chunks.
- Flexibility in the law allows drivers who need to extend their driving time due to poor driving conditions to two hours beyond the limit.
- Short haul driving limits have been extended from 12-hour shifts to 14 hour shifts and the short-haul distance has been increased from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
The rule still require drivers to stop for a break after eight consecutive hours on the road. These changes mean that if a person is in an accident with a truck driver, the truck company may have more flexibility in proving that the driver was safe behind the wheel and abiding by the law. However, impaired driving is still dangerous, and if you believe that a tired or impaired driver resulted in your crash, you and your family may still have the right to seek damages for your injuries. The Cooper Law Firm is a truck accident law firm in Texas that may be able to help you and your family if you were hurt in a truck accident.
COVID-19 Emergency Trucking Rules and Truck Accidents
Truck drivers who are transporting livestock and livestock feed, medical supplies, COVID-19 testing supplies, and personal protective equipment including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectant, are exempt from certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety laws. Exceptions include hours of service laws for these loads. However, it is important to note that truck drivers can’t just carry soap and mostly other products and claim that they are carrying essential emergency equipment. The emergency order only applies to truckers working to keep essential safety and emergency equipment in place. The emergency order still requires drivers to be alert behind the wheel and expressly prohibits fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel. The emergency order also prohibits truck companies from allowing tired or fatigued drivers to get behind the wheel. The emergency order also notes that drivers who are ill should not be driving and that companies should not permit ill truck drivers to get behind the wheel. If a driver informs his or her company that he or she needs rest, the company is required to provide a rest period of ten hours.
COVID-19 has impacted all areas of business. The trucking industry has also been impacted. Drivers have reported difficulty due to restaurant and roadside establishment closures due to COVID-19 that have resulted in truck drivers having more difficulty taking the breaks they need and getting the roadside services they need. Other drivers have noted that they have had to shift their schedules or have experienced delays because of COVID-19 outbreaks in some parts of the country, resulting in shutdowns. Some drivers are indeed putting in long hours to make sure we all have the health supplies and food we need. However, when drivers get behind the wheel while tired or while sick, they can still put the health and safety of all of us at risk. If you or someone you love was hurt in a truck accident recently, the changed laws and emergency orders could potentially make your truck accident claim a little more complicated.
Because the hours of service laws have been made more flexible, victims of these accidents may need to show that truck drivers were indeed fatigued or sick behind the wheel. This is why it is more important than ever to seek the assistance of a truck accident law firm if you’ve been in a crash in Texas. The Cooper Law Firm is a truck accident law firm in Texas that can review the details of your case, review your injuries, and police reports, and assist you with your claim. You are not alone. Contact our truck accident law firm today or reach out to USAttorneys.com to get matched with a truck accident lawyer at the Cooper Law Firm today.