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How the hours of service rules can help accident victims

Many trucks that travel through Charleston and Kanawha County, West Virginia, are subject to federal trucking regulations either because they travel between states or because of the type of product they choose to haul.

As such, these trucking companies, and their drivers, are subject to specific rules limiting how much time a driver can travel before he or she has to stop and take an extended period of rest. The idea of these rules is to prevent truck driver fatigue by requiring the driver to leave time for a nap in the midst of his or her busy delivery schedule.

Specifically, a truck driver hauling property who is subject to federal regulations must stop for a rest of 10 hours after being behind the wheel for 11 hours. Since behind the wheel time does not include shorter stops for gas or other typical travel breaks, a separate rule clarifies that a driver has to rest for 10 hours after being on the clock for 14 hours, since on the clock time includes both behind the wheel time and shorter breaks. Weekly limits on the amount of hours a trucker can be on the road also apply.

These rules or administrative regulations which are enforced through fines and, in serious case, action against a trucker's ability to transport goods legally between the states. Standing alone, a trucker's violating them does not mean they owe compensation, even if they are involved in a serious or fatal accident.

A violation of them can, however, be used as evidence that a truck driver was too tired to be driving his or her large vehicle safely. If there are other factors in the accident which suggest fatigue was the cause of the crash, knowing the trucker violated the hours of service rules can help an injured victim establish negligence and get the compensation he or she deserves.

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