Trends In Trucking Litigation (Part 1)

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In the last several years, trucking companies have been subject to increased exposure to litigation as a result of changes in the legal obligation to supervise hours of service compliance.  Along the same lines, motor carriers have a heightened duty to maintain accurate records.  The rules are designed to cut down on driver fatigue, which is a relatively common cause of tractor trailer accidents.

Hours of service regulations are not new.  However, trucking companies now have the obligation to implement a monitoring system designed to prevent non-compliance.  The trucking industry historically has been rife with problems of log falsification, as well as the destruction of pertinent data following an accident.  Current laws are aimed to decrease such incidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published advisory notes which detail the obligations of trucking companies to supervise and monitor hours of service violations.

FMCSR Section 395.3, Guidance #8 provides:¬† “…Carriers ‘permit’ violations of the hours of service regulations by their employees if they fail to have in place management systems that effectively prevent such violations.”

FMCSR Section 395.3, Guidance #7 provides: “The carrier is liable for violations of the hours of service regulations if it had or should have had the means by which to detect violations.¬† Liability under the FMCSR does not depend on actual knowledge.”

Thus, the advisory statements by the FMCSA essentially impose strict liability on a trucking company that fails to set up monitoring systems designed to detect and eliminate hours of service offenses.  Subsequent blog posts will examine the ramifications of these rules.

If you have been involved in a collision with a tractor trailer or other large truck, please contact the Law Office of Kevin J. Williams, PLLC, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at (336)793-8459 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.  Kevin has extensive experience investigating trucking accidents to determine whether a collision is the result of driver fatigue.  You may also e-mail Kevin using the contact form.

 

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Attorney Kevin J. Williams at his desk in his Greensboro North Carolina office.
Attorney Kevin J. Williams at his desk in his Greensboro North Carolina office.

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