The New 14-Hour Rule for Truck Drivers: What You Need to Know


    As a plaintiff's personal injury lawyer, staying updated with the latest regulations and rules that affect the trucking industry is crucial for effectively representing my clients. One significant change that has been implemented is the new 14-hour rule for truckers. The new hours of service regulation is meant to improve driver safety and working conditions for commercial truck drivers. What should you know about the new rule?

    What you need to know about the 14-hour rule

    Understanding this new hours of service rule and its implications can greatly impact your truck accident case. Here are the highlights that you should know:

    1. Overview of the 14-hour rule

    The 14-hour rule is a regulation introduced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to address the issue of driver fatigue in commercial drivers and improve safety on the roads. It is essentially a sleeper berth provision that limits the maximum number of hours a truck driver can be on duty to 14 consecutive hours after a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off-duty time.

    2. Driving window and rest breaks

    Within the 14-hours on duty, truck drivers are allowed a maximum of 11 hours of driving time. This means that after a 10-hour break, they are allowed a driving limit of 11 hours within the subsequent 14 hours. Additionally, the rule requires drivers to take at least one 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of their on-duty time.

    3. Impact on driver fatigue and accident risks

    The 14-hour rule aims to mitigate driver fatigue, which is a leading cause of commercial motor vehicle accidents, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). By imposing limits on consecutive hours of service and incorporating rest breaks, it is expected to enhance driver alertness and reduce the risk of accidents caused by fatigue-related factors.

    4. Enforcing compliance

    It is crucial for me to assess whether the truck driver involved in the accident complied with the 14-hour rule. Violations can significantly impact liability and negligence claims. Gathering evidence, such as driver logs, electronic logging device (ELD) records, and other relevant documentation, is essential to establish non-compliance and strengthen your case.

    5. Potential violations and liability

    If it can be demonstrated that the truck driver exceeded the 14-hour on-duty limit or failed to take required rest breaks, it may indicate negligence on their part. Proving driver fatigue due to non-compliance with the rule can help establish liability and strengthen your claim for compensation.

    6. Collaboration with industry experts

    To build a solid case based on the new 14-hour rule, I’m collaborating with industry experts such as accident reconstruction specialists, fatigue experts, and trucking safety consultants. Their expertise can provide insights into the correlation between driver fatigue, non-compliance, and accident causation, bolstering my arguments in court.

    7. Monitoring future regulatory changes

    As regulations and rules within the trucking industry evolve, it is essential I stay informed and adapt my legal strategies accordingly. Keeping up with updates from the FMCSA and other relevant authorities will enable me to provide effective representation for my clients involved in truck accident cases.

    What to do if you are hit by a truck

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    If you've been hit by a truck, it's crucial to take immediate steps to protect your well-being, gather evidence, and preserve your legal rights. Here's a guide on what to do if you find yourself in such a situation:

    1. Seek medical attention

    Your health and well-being should be your top priority. If you are injured, call emergency services or ask someone nearby to do so. Even if you don't initially feel injured, it's important to seek medical evaluation as some injuries may not be immediately apparent. Follow the advice and treatment plan provided by medical professionals.

    2. Contact law enforcement

    Notify the police about the accident and provide them with accurate details of what occurred. Ensure an official accident report is filed, as it will document important information about the incident, including the parties involved, witness statements, and any citations issued. Request a copy of the report for your records.

    3. Gather evidence

    If possible, collect evidence at the accident scene. Take photographs of the vehicles involved, the accident location, skid marks, and any visible injuries. Obtain contact information from any witnesses present and ask them for their statements regarding the accident. These pieces of evidence can be crucial for establishing liability and supporting your claim.

    4. Avoid making statements

    Be cautious about providing detailed statements to the truck driver's insurance company or discussing fault at the accident scene. Anything you say can potentially be used against you later. Instead, limit your discussions to the necessary exchange of information with the involved parties and law enforcement.

    5. Preserve documentation

    Keep records of all medical treatment, including hospital visits, medications, rehabilitation sessions, and therapy appointments. Maintain a file with copies of medical bills, receipts, and any other relevant documents related to your injuries and expenses. These records will be important for documenting your damages and supporting your claim.

    6. Consult with a personal injury lawyer

    Contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in truck accident cases as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will provide guidance based on your specific circumstances, explain your legal rights, and help protect your interests. They will navigate the complex legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, litigate on your behalf.

    7. Avoid settlement offers

    Be cautious when approached by the truck driver's insurance company with a settlement offer. Insurance companies may attempt to settle quickly for a lower amount than you may be entitled to. It is advisable to consult with your lawyer before accepting any offers or signing any documents to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

    8. Follow legal advice

    Work closely with your personal injury lawyer, providing them with all relevant information and following their guidance throughout the legal process. They will help assess the value of your claim, gather additional evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate for your best interests.

    What if the truck driver broke compliance with the 14-hour rule?

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    If you've been involved in a commercial vehicle accident and the truck driver's compliance with the 14-hour rule is in question, here are additional considerations to keep in mind:

    1. Document non-compliance

    If you suspect the truck driver violated the 14-hour limit, gather evidence to support your claim. Request the driver's logbooks and electronic logging device (ELD) records, which will document their on-duty hours and their rest period. Look for discrepancies or violations in their duty status that indicate non-compliance with the rule.

    2. Establish driver fatigue

    Non-compliance with the 14-hour rule can contribute to driver fatigue, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Consult with medical professionals specializing in sleep disorders and fatigue to evaluate the impact of extended hours on the driver's alertness and their ability to safely operate the vehicle.

    3. Liability and negligence

    Violations of the 14-hour rule can establish negligence on the part of the truck driver or their employer. Non-compliance may be seen as a breach of the duty to exercise reasonable care, making the driver and potentially the trucking company liable for the resulting damages.

    4. Consult experts

    Collaborate with experts such as accident reconstruction specialists, fatigue experts, and trucking safety consultants who have experience with the 14-hour rule and its impact on truck accidents. Their expertise will strengthen your arguments, provide valuable insights, and increase your chances of proving negligence.

    5. Legal strategy

    Work closely with your personal injury lawyer to develop a comprehensive legal strategy based on the truck driver's non-compliance with the 14-hour rule. They will assess the evidence, guide you through the legal process, and advocate for your rights to secure fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

    Choosing the right personal injury lawyer after a truck accident: Key considerations

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    If you have been injured in a truck accident, selecting the right personal injury lawyer to represent you is crucial. A skilled and experienced attorney can help navigate the complexities of truck accident cases, protect your rights, and maximize your chances of obtaining fair compensation. Here are important considerations to help you choose the right personal injury lawyer for your truck accident case:

    1. Expertise in truck accident cases

    Look for a personal injury lawyer with specific experience in handling truck accident cases. Truck accidents involve unique legal and investigative challenges, such as federal regulations, industry standards, and complex liability issues. An attorney with a track record in successfully litigating truck accident cases understands the intricacies involved and can provide valuable insights.

    2. Knowledge of federal regulations

    Truck accidents are governed by federal regulations, including those set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Your attorney should have a deep understanding of these regulations, including the Hours of Service (HOS) rules, licensing requirements, and maintenance standards. This knowledge is essential for establishing liability and building a strong case.

    3. Investigative resources

    Truck accident cases often require thorough investigation to collect crucial evidence. Look for a lawyer who has access to resources such as accident reconstruction experts, trucking industry specialists, and medical professionals who can provide expert opinions. These resources can help establish fault, assess damages, and strengthen your case.

    4. Track record of success

    Review the lawyer's track record and past successes in handling truck accident cases. Consider their history of obtaining favorable settlements or verdicts for clients. A lawyer with a proven track record of achieving substantial compensation for truck accident victims demonstrates their ability to effectively advocate for your rights.

    5. Trial experience

    While many personal injury cases are settled out of court, it's important to choose a lawyer who is experienced and prepared to take your case to trial if necessary. A skilled trial attorney can confidently represent you in court, present compelling arguments, and fight for your best interests.

    6. Client testimonials and reviews

    Take the time to read client testimonials and reviews to gain insights into the lawyer's reputation and client satisfaction. Feedback from previous clients can provide valuable information about their experience working with the attorney, their communication style, and the overall quality of legal representation.

    7. Personalized attention

    Consider how the lawyer values personalized attention and client communication. A lawyer who is accessible, responsive, and genuinely interested in your well-being will provide the support you need during this challenging time. Building a strong attorney-client relationship based on trust and open communication is crucial for a successful outcome.

    8. Fee structure

    Discuss the lawyer's fee structure during the initial consultation. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only receive a payment if they secure a settlement or win your case. Ensure you understand the terms and any additional costs or expenses that may arise during the legal process.

    The impact and importance of legal representation

    Being involved in a truck accident is a highly serious matter due to the inherent size and weight of commercial trucks. These accidents often result in severe injuries, extensive property damage, and even fatalities. It is crucial to recognize the gravity of truck accidents and understand why seeking the right legal representation is of utmost importance. Here's why being hit by a truck is much more serious and how a personal injury lawyer can help:

    1. Increased potential for catastrophic injuries

    Due to their size and weight, trucks have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries in accidents. Victims may suffer from traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, multiple fractures, and severe lacerations. These injuries often require extensive medical treatment, long-term care, and rehabilitation.

    2. Complex liability determination

    Determining liability in truck accidents can be complex. There are multiple parties involved, including the truck driver, the trucking company, maintenance contractors, and vehicle manufacturers. Each entity may share some degree of responsibility, making it crucial to conduct a thorough investigation to identify all liable parties. A skilled personal injury lawyer can navigate this complexity and build a strong case to establish liability.

    3. Compliance with federal regulations

    Truck drivers and trucking companies must adhere to federal regulations set by the FMCSA. Violations of these regulations, such as hours-of-service violations, inadequate driver training, or improper maintenance, can significantly impact liability and compensation claims. A knowledgeable lawyer with experience in truck accident cases understands these regulations and can use them to strengthen your case.

    4. Preservation of crucial evidence

    Preserving and gathering evidence is critical in truck accident cases. This includes obtaining the truck's black box data, driver logs, maintenance records, and any available surveillance footage. Due to legal requirements and the potential for evidence to be altered or lost, it is vital to secure legal representation promptly. A personal injury lawyer will ensure that relevant evidence is preserved and used effectively to support your claim.

    5. Dealing with insurance companies

    Truck accidents often involve complex insurance coverage. Commercial trucking companies typically have robust insurance policies, and their insurers may employ aggressive tactics to minimize payouts. Having a skilled personal injury lawyer by your side ensures that your rights are protected and that you have an advocate who can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.

    6. Comprehensive compensation

    Truck accidents can result in significant financial losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, property damage, and pain and suffering. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer will help evaluate the full extent of your damages and pursue comprehensive compensation that accounts for all current and future expenses related to your injuries.

    7. Trial experience and litigation skills

    In some cases, reaching a fair settlement may not be possible, and litigation becomes necessary. A personal injury lawyer with trial experience possesses the skills to effectively present your case in court, advocate for your rights, and fight for the compensation you deserve. Their courtroom expertise can be invaluable in achieving a favorable outcome.

    Contact a personal injury attorney at Palermo Law Group

    Being hit by a truck is an incredibly serious event with potentially life-altering consequences. Seeking legal representation from a skilled personal injury lawyer who specializes in truck accident cases is vital to protect your rights, establishing liability, and pursuing the compensation you deserve. Contact the law firm of Palermo Law Group for legal advice from a personal injury lawyer.

    At Palermo, we value the attorney-client relationship and can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free consultation today to get an evaluation for your personal injury case. Our knowledge, experience, and advocacy will help ensure your case is handled with the seriousness and expertise it deserves, enabling you to focus on your recovery while pursuing justice.




    Mario Palermo is the Founder and Lead Attorney at Palermo Law Group in Oak Brook, Illinois. For the past 26 years, he has worked tirelessly to help injury victims and their families in their times of need. He is a seasoned authority on civil litigation, and also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Mr. Palermo has been named a “Leading Lawyer” by his peers in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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