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Hours of service violations in personal injury litigation

Last time, we began looking at the topic of “hours of service” rules, providing a brief summary of the rules as they apply to property-carrying drivers. The hours of service rules are important not only from the perspective of ensuring highway safety, but also with respect to building a strong personal injury case.

First of all, the hours of service rules are intended to ensure that truckers have enough rest when they are behind the wheel that they don’t put other motorists at unnecessary risk of harm. The rules cannot guarantee this, of course, but the idea is that they can reduce the incidence trucker driver fatigue. 

In addition to their preventative effect, the hours of service rules an also serve as means of recovery for truck accident victims. In any personal injury case, a crash victim is required to provide relevant, reliable evidence for each element of a personal injury cause of action: duty; breach, causation; and harm. Essentially, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a legal duty but failed to carry out that duty, and that this caused harm to the plaintiff.

Truck safety violations at both the state and the federal level can serve as a means of establishing both duty and breach. The key is to gather evidence of the breach of the defendant’s breach of duty and present it convincingly to the court. Obtaining evidence of a breach of hours of service rules is not always easy, partly because some truckers tamper with the records to protect themselves. Truck accident victims should, for this reason, always work with an experienced legal advocate to build the strongest personal injury case possible. 

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