The Trump Administration, in an unprecedented move, has put a hold on an 82-year-old truck safety law because of pressures from retailers and hospitals to maintain cleaning and medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. According to a report in Business Insider, the federal hours-of-service laws, which mandate how many hours a truck driver may work, have been in effect since 1938. They have been suspended at a federal level for the first time in the nation’s history. The laws were put into place in order to prevent catastrophic truck accidents caused by sleepy truck drivers.
As of March 13, truck drivers who are transporting medical supplies and high-demand consumer goods such as masks and hand sanitizer, do not have to follow HOS rules. It is fairly common for states and local governments to lift the rule amid natural disasters when consumers tend to “panic buy” household good and when hospitals need medical supplies urgently. Around 70 percent of the nation’s goods by weight is transported by large trucks.
Unprecedented Demand for Goods
Currently, federal hours-of-service rules require truck drivers to drive no more than 11 hours within a 14-hour work period. They must then log 10 hours of “off-duty” time. This safety law is essentially aimed at eliminating exhausted truck drivers from the nation’s highways so they do not endanger other drivers. Trucking companies and truck drivers are opposed to these laws because it prevents them from maximizing their profits.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stated in its emergency declaration that the following types of truck loads will be exempt from HOS rules until further notice:
• Medical supplies and equipment relating to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of the coronavirus.
• Supplies and equipment that are necessary for community safety and sanitation such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants.
• Food for emergency restocking of stores.
The coronavirus outbreak, which was ruled by the World Health Organization this week as a global pandemic, has led to “panic buying” of food and supplies all over the nation. Across the United States, sales of hand sanitizer, for example, jumped by 228 percent during the four weeks ending March 7 compared to the same period last year.
While the suspension of HOS rules in this time of crisis is understandable, it is also important to note that this move leaves the traveling public vulnerable to truck drivers who may be exhausted from driving without rest or breaks to deliver these goods. We know how fatigue impairs drivers in a manner that alcohol impairs motorists. Truck accidents caused by fatigued drivers have resulted in catastrophic injuries and deaths, especially to the occupants of smaller vehicles. Please remember that in such cases, the trucking company can also be held liable for negligent hiring and/or retention of the employee.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Victims who have been injured in truck accidents may be able to seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost income and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. Families of deceased accident victims may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for damages such as lost future income, funeral costs, medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident caused by a negligent or careless driver, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
For over 48 years, our skilled accident attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims. Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a bicyclist who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and the full $1,000,000 insurance policy for a pedestrian who was hit by a truck, and $4,625,000 for a driver who was in a car and was hit by a van, and $2,500,000 for a man who fell through an improperly secured hole. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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