This month, a truck driver who caused a 6 car pile up in 2009 on Philadelphia’s Interstate 76 was sentenced for falsifying his log book. The driver logged rest time which he was required to take, in an effort to conceal the number of hours he drove in the days leading up to the accident.
Federal regulations prohibit truck drivers of commercial vehicles weighing over 10,001 pounds from driving for more than 11 hours at a time without required rest periods. The driver in this case logged rest periods in Virginia when he was actually driving.
Truck driver fatigue is the number one cause of large commercial truck accidents. Given the high speeds reached on expressways, these accidents almost always result in fatalities. The 2009 accident in this case resulted in the death of at least one Philadelphia area man and injured several others.
Many truck drivers are simply trying to meet quotas when they drive in excess of the federally mandated hour limits or rest requirements. Many drivers report that their employers’ policies require that deliveries be made within a certain time and absent traveling at speeds of over 100 miles per hour, the drivers cannot meet those deadlines unless they drive in excess of the federal limits.
When accidents result from violation of federal rest requirements and daily or weekly hour limits, truck drivers subject themselves and their employers to serious financial risk. While commercial liability insurance coverage would provide some measure of protection, such coverage does not apply to punitive damages.
Punitive damage claims on top of ordinary negligence claims may be warranted in a trucking accident lawsuit. Such claims punish a wrongdoer for conduct which shows a callous disregard for the health and safety of others on the road. Violating federal requirements and fraudulent concealment could certainly warrant punitive damages.
These kinds of trucking accidents are so tragic because they are 100% preventable.
Related Legal Article: Pennsylvania Trucking Accident Update: Truck Driver Rule Changes
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Published: May 24, 2012