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Help for truck accident lawyers: Did a fatigued truck driver cause the crash?

September 10, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Video on Rule 1 – of truck attorney’s “Big 10 Rules of the Road”

I’d like to share this video to help my fellow truck accident attorneys. It’s part of a series of 13 videos on handling truck crash cases.

In this video, I’m discussing Rule 1 of my “Truck Accident Lawyer Rules of the Road” from an American Association for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Seminar. Rule 1 is all about how truck lawyers can often find the truck driver was fatigued in many truck accident lawsuits.

I was recently asked to speak to a group of truck drivers, and one of the points I made – which bears repeating here – is this: these cases are not about the truck driver. These cases are about the trucking companies that, more often than not, push these truckers to drive beyond what is safe and allowed under federal safety standards. This often happens with the threat (implicit or explicit), of losing their jobs. I’ve had a lot of injured truck drivers as clients and I’ve heard and seen more than my share of trucking companies pushing drivers and sacrificing safety for profits. Here’s a blog from a trucker, who discusses how the trucking industry pushed him to break the rules.

Why “on-duty” is an important part of hours of service

One takeaway from the video above is for truck accident lawyers to think of “on-duty” time as more than just actual driving.

Aside from driving the truck, on-duty can mean:
o Waiting at the terminal,
o Loading or unloading the truck,
o Doing a pre-trip inspection,
o Waiting around for repairs to be made,
o Waiting around for inspections,

In other words, there are so many things that can count for hours of service. Most truck lawyers don’t know to look at these other “on-duty” activities that can prove the truck driver went beyond the legal hours of service requirements.

And remember, truck driver fatigue is just as dangerous as drunk driving. It causes the same impairments in judgment and perception and reaction time.

I’ll be posting more videos for truck accident attorneys in the future. Stay tuned.

Steven Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law and one of the top truck accident lawyers in the country. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Group, and has received the top-reported jury verdict in Michigan for truck crashes. Steve was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his work to promote national truck safety.

Related information to protect yourself:

Better understanding hours of service violations

Truck driver fatigue

When you need a Michigan truck accident lawyer

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our truck accident lawyers.

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