Commercial truck drivers are permitted to spend a certain amount of time on the road. This is governed by the Hours of Service (HOS) laws detailed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These laws are in place to protect motorists from preventable accidents caused by truck drivers.
Indiana’s HOS regulations can considerably impact truck accident cases, deciding liability and the amount of compensation available to victims. Anyone involved in a truck accident in Indiana should engage a truck accident lawyer to understand how these regulations affect a personal injury case.
Overview of Hours of Service Regulations in Indiana
The Indiana Hours of Service regulations restrict the continuous hours truck drivers can travel on the road. The purpose of HOS regulations is to ensure drivers are not on the road for too long, they are taking mandated breaks, and their employers are not able to circumvent these requirements.
Just as any driver behind the wheel, semi-truck drivers can become fatigued, get distracted, and make mistakes. The HOS regulations put legal accountability on trucking companies to ensure their drivers are not falling asleep at the wheel due to driving too many consecutive hours on the road.
HOS laws stipulate a maximum driving duration, usually a maximum of 11 hours daily, and at least 10 hours of downtime between shifts. Additionally, truck drivers must take a 30-minute break after eight hours of nonstop driving.
Regulations on Federal and State Levels
All commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that engage in interstate commerce are under the FMCSA’s purview and are subject to the federal HOS requirements. Truck drivers and trucking organizations that breach the federal HOS standards are subject to fines and penalties from the FMCSA.
In Indiana, all CMVs weighing more than 10,000 pounds and drivers who haul hazardous items must abide by federal HOS standards issued by the FMCSA. To encourage truck driver safety and lower the danger of accidents, these rules set driving and working hours restrictions and mandate rest breaks.
How Do the HOS Rules Impact Truck Accident Claims in Indiana?
When assessing who is responsible for truck accidents, compliance with HOS standards is crucial. A truck driver or trucking company is held accountable for the accident and any associated damages if it is discovered that they have violated any regulations put on drivers, including HOS laws.
Evidence of an Hours Violation
Evidence of HOS breaches when evaluating liability in truck accident situations can include logs, GPS information, and EOBRs (Electronic On-Board Recorders). As other state laws govern the requirement of these monitoring protocols, these records must be kept up to date and provided after any accident.
Determination of Fault
Determining who was at fault in a truck collision is complex and requires looking at all pertinent details, including HOS laws. HOS infractions can affect liability, but even in the absence of a violation, driver error, car problems, or poor road conditions can influence who is at fault.
Violating Other Indiana Trucking Laws
Both federal and state regulations in Indiana guarantee the safety of other drivers and road users. For commercial trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds and hazardous goods, the FMCSA establishes standards that address equipment, driver qualifications, and HOS. Indiana has state regulations on load restrictions, insurance, and truck license requirements.
Violations result in penalties, fines, and other sanctions, which the Indiana State Police and FMCSA enforce. By establishing requirements for vehicles, drivers, and operating hours, Indiana’s trucking rules and regulations play a significant part in ensuring safety.
What To Do if You Are Involved in a Truck Accident in Indiana
Follow these actions if you are in a truck accident in Indiana:
- Seek medical help.
- Call the police and gather details from the scene.
- Refrain from admitting any fault or discussing fault at the scene.
- Inform your insurance provider about the accident.
- Contact a truck accident attorney for advice.
Truck accidents in Indiana can be complicated and frequently involve several parties, including the truck driver, the trucking business, truck maintenance workers or manufacturers, and more. Experienced truck accident lawyers can assist in determining who is responsible for the accident’s cause and the associated damages.
Contact our Evansville office for a free and confidential case assessment. At Wagner Reese, our skilled attorneys are well-versed in Indiana’s laws and regulations and are devoted to assisting you in securing the compensation you deserve.