Commercial trucking companies and drivers are subject to a large number of federal and state rules and regulations when it comes to driver training, truck operations, truck maintenance, and securing cargo. These rules and regulations are, for the large part, to protect truck drivers and everyone else sharing the road with commercial trucks. Recent cases have found competing interpretations of when truck drivers are “off-duty” when it comes to hours of service and wage requirements.
Changes affecting truck accident cases
Our Inglewood truck accident attorneys are experts in trucking rules and regulations and the first place they start when conducting an accident investigation on behalf of clients is to look into any violations and noncompliance of trucking rules and regulations. They are closely following these cases in order to keep up with regulation changes that ultimately affect their clients’ cases.
Hours of service
Hours of service regulations generally regulate truck drivers’ drive time and put limits on the number of hours and consecutive days that truck drivers may drive. Hours of service requirements are not one size fits all and different drivers and types of trucks have different restrictions. In general, commercial truck drivers may drive for up to 11 hours and work for 3 hours (non-driving work such as loading and unloading the truck) for a maximum work time of 14 hours after 10 hours off-duty. They must stop driving after accumulating 60 or 70 on-duty hours in 7 or 8 days.
As a result of hours of service restrictions and the nature of a truck driver’s job, drivers spend days and weeks of time on the road, but they are not permitted to be on-duty all of the hours that they are on the road. Apart from the hours of service restrictions, truck companies and drivers are subject to labor laws, which regulate wages paid to truck drivers.
The Department of Labor provides that employees are sometimes considered to be working even if some of that time is spent sleeping and if an employee is on duty for 24 hours or more, the maximum amount of time that can be written off for eating and sleeping is 8 hours. This is where things get difficult. In general, truck drivers may not work more than 14 hours in a 24 hour period while labor laws provide that they must be paid for at least 16 hours if they are working for a period of 24 hours.
Truck accident investigations
In the past, trucking companies have found themselves in legal trouble for pushing their drivers to work more than what is permitted by law. If it becomes the case that truck drivers are entitled to be paid a minimum of 16 hours in a 24 hour period, truck companies are not going to be happy about paying their drivers for 16 hours when they are limited to working for 14 hours.
As a result, truck crash attorneys anticipate the possibility of seeing more cases of trucking companies pushing their drivers to work longer hours than they are legally permitted to work. If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact our trucking regulation experts at the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg to schedule a consultation.