After an accident involving a massive commercial truck, some people are eager to blame the commercial driver. They make allegations of driver negligence, loading violations, or maintenance failures. However, the fact is that these cases are often far more complicated than one might initially assume.
For instance, after a truck accident litigants often claim the driver violated Hours of Service regulations. It may be tempting to oversimplify HOS regulations when, in reality, several exceptions greatly increase their complexity.
Exceptions to HOS Regulations
While many drivers are required to comply with HOS regulations, there are exceptions based on how some drivers are classified. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently clarified exceptions for the transportation of agricultural commodities.
Specific information can be found in this article. But broadly, the FMCSA indicates that drivers transporting livestock or agricultural commodities are exempt from HOS regulations during harvesting or planting seasons and when they are 150 air miles from the source of the commodities. Further, truckers in these categories are not required to take the 30-minute rest break ordered under HOS regulations.
There are also exemptions regarding whether a trucker must use an electronic logging device (ELD) for tracking. One example of this is a driver transporting personal property in a commercial vehicle weighing fewer than 10,001 pounds.
In addition, drivers can use adverse driving condition provisions to drive longer than what is allowed under standard HOS regulations.
Why This Is Important
The facts related to trucking accidents can be complex and drivers are not necessarily the culprits. Claimants may assume that a trucker is automatically to blame if he or she was on the road for a certain number of hours or was not utilizing an ELD at the time of a crash.
It is therefore crucial that neither party quickly jump to conclusions or agree to any settlement or admission of guilt after a truck crash. These accidents are often quite complicated, and it can take time and extensive legal experience to unravel the details to determine fault and liability.
Joshua R. Edlin is an Associate Attorney at Edlin Gallagher Huie + Blum.