FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-07-16
Most of us have seen the aftermath of a serious motor vehicle accident on the side of the road. The condition of the vehicles involved will often lead us to think that those inside at the time of the crash have been seriously injured. When one of the vehicles is an 18-wheeler, the damage can be much more extensive, and the injuries much more severe.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) handles the rule-making responsibility for regulating the trucking industry within the United States. In the last decade, the agency has focused on finding ways to reduce the number of trucking accidents that are occurring nationwide, and has passed several regulations that target both drivers and trucking companies.
Recently, the FMCSA had new rules go into effect that regulates the number of hours that a truck driver is allowed to be behind the wheel. Truck drivers now must take at least a 30-minute rest period for every eight hours behind the wheel. They are also limited to 11 hours of consecutive driving time. If they have had breaks or delays to load or unload their trucks, they are not allowed to drive their vehicles 14 hours after coming on duty.
Additionally, the FMCSA has also implemented a new restart rule. Each week, drivers are allowed to drive 60 hours over a seven-day period, or 70 hours over an eight-day period. Drivers looking to reset their hour limits must take a 34-hour rest period, which must include two 1 A.M. to 5 A.M. shifts. This was done so that truck drivers would be required to get two nights of sleep before getting back behind the wheel.
The rules have proven to be quite controversial within the trucking industry. Owners claim that these changes will actually result in more trucks being on the roads, thereby potentially increasing the risks that a serious trucking accident may occur. However, officials believe that these changes are necessary due to the dangers caused by fatigued truck drivers.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a trucking accident, discuss your claims with an experienced personal injury attorney. It will be important to review the crash to learn more about the potential causes of the accident. This will often require witnesses to be questioned, and may also call for experts to reconstruct the crash.
An attorney can help you understand the value of your claims. In many of these accidents, an insurance company will make an offer to those that have been injured. You need to know the extent of your injuries, as well as the cost of treatment or long-term rehabilitation before you decide to accept this offer. Settling too soon could prevent you from being able to make a complete recovery.