Truck drivers run on a very tight schedule. Their employers typically provide them with a load to deliver and require them to get it to its destination within a specific period of time so that they are able to pick up their next load. While some truckers work beyond the number of hours they are legally permitted to drive during one shift so that they meet their employer’s expectations, others may operate their vehicle in a careless or reckless manner in an effort to cut down on travel time.
As a result, a trucker may not only be in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours-of-service rules, but they also risk driving while fatigued and causing an accident.
If you were involved in an accident with a truck driver in Fort Lauderdale, FL and you learned that the driver was in violation of the hours-of-service rules, you may have a case against them and their employer. While some truckers can be held accountable for violating FMCSA’s rules as they are ultimately the ones who are in control of the vehicle, their employer may also be held liable as well.
Let’s say the truck driver’s employer, who may be in charge of a large company or one that only has a few vehicles being operated, threatened the driver with his/her job if they didn’t get the load to where it needed to be knowing it would cause them to violate the law. Because this type of behavior is prohibited, the trucking company could be held responsible for compensating any victims who suffered property damage and/or injuries in the crash.
Understanding FMCSA’s Coercion Rule
The FMCSA adopted the Coercion Rule on January 29, 2016, and it prohibits motor carriers from coercing a driver into operating their vehicle knowing that their actions will cause them to violate one or more of FMCSA’s regulations. For example, if an employer were to threaten to withhold work from a driver or actually act on their threat if the driver refused to drive beyond the number of hours the FMCSA allows a trucker to operate for, the company is considered to be in violation of FMCSA’s regulations.
Now, if an employer coerced a driver into continuing to drive beyond what the hours-of service rules allow as the employee was fearful that they would be fired, then the company is put at risk of being sued or held accountable for compensating anyone who was harmed in the crash. In order for coercion to have existed, the FMCSA says that the following must have occurred:
- The trucking company requested that the driver “perform a task that would result in the driver violating one or more state or federal regulations.
- The driver must have informed their employer that a violation would occur if they were to perform the task.
- The trucker’s employer “makes a threat or takes action against the driver’s employment or work opportunities to get the driver to take the load despite the regulatory violation that would occur.”
Now, if you would like to find out if you have a viable case against a trucking company and/or a truck driver in Fort Lauderdale, FL, you need to speak with a Fort Lauderdale, FL truck accident attorney. The lawyers at Glotzer & Kobren are ready to help you and anyone else who was involved in the trucking accident obtain the justice and compensation they deserve.
Glotzer & Kobren can be reached at:
2700 North Military Trail, Suite #100
Boca Raton, FL 33431