Should private mail delivery drivers be exempt from fatigue-preventing safety rule? P.2

In our previous post, we began speaking about a request made by an organization representing private mail carriers for an exemption from the 14-hour limit rule. The rule is one of so-called “hours of service” rules under federal law which puts limits on how much time commercial motor vehicle drivers can spend behind the wheel in any one work day or work week.

The hours of service rules are important not only as a means of ensuring highway safety with respect to the trucking industry, but also as a means of holding truck drivers and their employers accountable. When a trucker fails to abide by federal driving time limits and his or her employer fails to ensure compliance with these rules, his or her accident victims can use this noncompliance as evidence in personal injury litigation.

Utilizing noncompliance with federal hours of service regulations is a real possibility in personal injury litigation, but it requires that a plaintiff do thorough work in the discovery phase of the litigation process. This means obtaining records of any police and state or federal agency investigations of the accident, especially investigations conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Traffic Safety Administration.

The ability to demonstrate regulatory violations may have another advantage for personal injury plaintiffs, at least in some cases: the ability to seek punitive damages. Although punitive damages are difficult to obtain, egregious violations of federal safety rules may warrant such an award in some cases.

Those who have suffered serious harm at the hands of a negligent trucker should, of course, always work with an experienced advocate to ensure their rights are protected and that they are able to hold any negligent parties accountable.

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