After a serious accident involving commercial driver negligence, there are a lot of of factors to consider. Even after you figure out which insurance companies apply and file the claims, you may still need to file a Third Party lawsuit to recover damages for long-term disability and non-economic damages. Luckily, there are state and federal laws that will help you prove negligence by commercial drivers.
If you have been in a serious truck accident, your Third Party lawsuit will depend on your truck accident attorneys‘ ability to prove the commercial driver’s negligence. Often that includes showing violations of the motor vehicle code that apply to every vehicle (like speeding or failure to signal lane changes). Other times, negligence can be based on special commercial driver regulations.
Who are Commercial Drivers?
Michigan law requires drivers to get a commercial driver’s license if they want to drive:
- Vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more;
- Tractors with trailers weighing 10,001 pounds or more with a total weight of 26,001 or more;
- Passenger vehicles designed for 16 people (or 9 people under federal law); or
- Vehicles transporting hazardous materials.
Time and Hour Limitations
Among other limits, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets limits on how much, and how long, commercial drivers can be on the road. Sometimes the limits are different depending on whether the driver is transporting people (like a bus) or property (like a semi truck). Commercial drivers must keep records showing they only drove:
- 10 or 11 hours in a row;
- 14 or 15 hours (non-consecutive) following 8 or 10 hours off duty;
- 60/70 hours per 7 or 8 days.
CDL drivers must also take mandatory rest breaks and sleeping periods, which will be recorded in their time logs.
Using Time Logs to Prove Commercial Driver Negligence
A CDL driver’s time logs are often the key to proving a commercial driver’s negligence. Often these logs include time and hour violations that can provide the legal basis for a Third Party negligence lawsuit. Your truck accident attorneys will subpoena the time logs and scrutinize them to find any signs of negligence.
Federal Commercial Driver DUI Limits
Sometimes, a serious auto accident will be caused because a commercial driver was using drugs or alcohol illegally. What many people don’t know is that the limits for a commercial driver are lower than an everyday motorist. A commercial driver could face Operating While Intoxicated charges for a blood alcohol content as low as 0.04 – half of the normal legal limit.
After an accident, police or a driver’s employer will often perform drug and alcohol tests to determine whether the driver was intoxicated. Your auto accident attorneys can use those records to show the commercial driver was at fault for your accident.
After a serious truck accident, proving negligence is crucial. Contact the truck accident attorneys at Christensen Law in Ann Arbor, Michigan to help you investigate commercial driver negligence and get your damages covered.