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Raleigh Personal Injury Law Blog

Measures are in place for reducing fatigue among truck drivers

Truck drivers in North Carolina may be aware of the rules and regulations regarding working hours, which were established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA in order to improve safety on the highways. The goal is to ensure that drivers on the highways are not fatigued because of extended working hours because that is one major contributing factor in the number of truck accidents that occur on the highways. There may be some trucking companies that push their drivers beyond the limit without understanding the threat that fatigued drivers pose to other motorists and pedestrians on the road.

Reports suggest that almost 4,000 people die annually in accidents involving trucks. Many truck drivers have also died in such accidents. The accident rates prompted the FMCSA to bring changes to the hours of service rule for truck drivers. Previously, drivers were allowed to take a 30-minute break within the first eight hours of duty and there was a 34-hour rest period known as a restart. According to the new rule, the drivers were allowed to use the restart period once every seven days, and they were also allowed to take two breaks between 1 and 5 a.m. to ensure that they remain alert before embarking on another heavy workweek.

Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving

A recent report by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that on many highways across the United States, including those in North Carolina, an increasing number of car accidents have been cause by sleepy drivers. The NHTSA data was compiled from reports submitted by local police departments, but drivers impaired by drowsiness or sleepiness are difficult for police to detect after an accident.

Drowsiness or fatigue does not leave physical evidence, unlike impairment by alcohol or other drugs. Thus, if the accused driver denies falling asleep or being tired, not much can be done by concerned authorities. It also is difficult for police to ascertain fault for an accident if a driver fails to remember whether he or she fell asleep while driving or if a driver is unable to respond or dead.

Legal options after a North Carolina commercial vehicle accident

While it is true that a large number of North Carolina commercial vehicles, such as large trucks, mainly drives on highways or industrial roads, it is important not to ignore the fact that there are various types of commercial vehicles that also drive within city limits. For example, it is common for delivery trucks, garbage trucks and other such commercial vehicles to drive in residential areas. Occasionally, other commercial automobiles, such as construction vehicles, dump trucks and cement trucks also move through residential areas.

However, when too many of those commercial vehicles enter into residential areas or other places within city limits the risks of an individual being involved in a commercial vehicle accident increases. One example of such an incident, of which Raleigh, North Carolina, residents might be aware, was the deadly accident that involved comedian Tracy Morgan's limousine and a Wal-Mart delivery truck. In that accident, Morgan and the limousine driver were critically injured and another comedian James McNair lost his life. Eventually, the matter was settled after Wal-Mart agreed to pay undisclosed damages.

Truck accident with motorcycle kills two, injures several

It probably goes without saying, the consequences of a North Carolina truck accident can be devastating for the occupants of the smaller vehicle that was involved in the accident. The situation is worse for the victim, if the smaller vehicle was as small and as lightweight as a motorcycle. A recent incident that occurred approximately one hour west of Raleigh, North Carolina, proves just that.

According to news reports, the tractor-trailer crash that occurred in Greensboro, North Carolina, claimed the life of two motorcyclists and injured several others. Reports stated that the incident occurred when the tractor-trailer crashed into a group of motorcyclists, while they were parked on the shoulder of Interstate 85, attending to a mechanical issue in one of the riders' motorcycles.

Understanding the effect of helmet laws in personal injury claims

Many states in the U.S., including North Carolina, have strict laws against motorcyclists riding without a helmet. Authorities have tried to emphasize how important it is for motorcyclists to wear helmets because the helmet serves as effective protection in the event of a motorcycle accident. A helmet helps to reduce head injuries, leading to fewer fatalities from accidents.

Despite the best efforts of state agencies to convince riders to wear helmets, there are people who still do not obey the law. Such a response has forced many states to implement mandatory helmet laws. If the motorcyclist violates those laws, there will be legal consequences. Riding without a helmet and getting involved in a motorcycle accident may be considered negligence, and the negligent rider may have forfeited any right to compensation based on that behavior. Helmets are also mandatory for motorcycle passengers in many states.

Points to remember about the revocation of a driver's license

Drivers of commercial vehicles in North Carolina should be aware of the rules regarding revocation of a driver's license. The Motor Vehicles Division has the authority to revoke the driver's license of a person if that person has been convicted of a certain listed offense. If a driver has been convicted of manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle, the same offense may lead to the revocation of the driver's license. Apart from that, if the driver is found to be driving under the influence of alcohol or any other drug, the division has the right to revoke that person's the driver's license.

In North Carolina, the permissible blood alcohol limit for commercial vehicle drivers is 0.04. If a person who is operating a commercial vehicle is found to have a BAC level that is higher than that amount, the person's driver's license may be revoked. In such cases, the chemical analysis report that revealed the BAC should be considered conclusive evidence and no further appeal or modification may be permitted. If the motor vehicle is used in any way that causes a felony to occur, the person's driver's license may be revoked by the authorities.

North Carolina drivers often break the "move over" law

Many North Carolina residents may be aware that in 2002 our state passed a law that required vehicles to move over or reduce their speed if there is an emergency vehicle near them. That law was meant to safeguard accident victims, emergency crews and law enforcement officers who might be present at the scene of an accident. Sadly, as recent reports state, many drivers in the state are unaware of this law.

One example of such an incident occurred recently when a state trooper's car was hit by another driver. According to reports, the incident happened when the trooper was investigating a car accident on U.S. Highway 70. A 22-year-old driver reportedly crashed into the trooper's car. Stemming from this incident, and other similar cases, the North Carolina Highway Patrol has stepped up its efforts to apprehend those drivers who break the "move over" law. The fine for that violation is $250.

North Carolina truckers can face higher truck accidents penalties

Commercial vehicles, such as trucks and other large commercial vehicles, which carry large loads in North Carolina, are subject to more stringent laws than other personal vehicles. Commercial vehicles, like trucks, offer their services for a price. With that in mind, in the event of an accident, the trucking company may find itself in the position of being indicted.

Like every driver on the road, truck drivers must follow traffic laws to avoid violations. These include laws like speeding, driving while texting or driving under the influence. Nevertheless, a trucking company is also obliged to follow the rules regarding the number of working hours that a truck driver is allowed to drive or even the timing of driving across various state and interstate highways.

What is the statute of limitations for personal injury cases?

The victim of a car accident often not only suffers serious physical injuries but the person can also face extreme financial challenges because of the car accident. Medical expenses to treat injuries are often very high; those injuries include head injuries as well as internal and external bleeding. In many cases, the victim of a car accident suffers permanent disabilities as well.

In other cases, the car accident victim might lose a limb or may lose function of a body part. All of those injuries can hinder the car accident victim from returning to the job that the person held previously or from finding a new job. Additionally, North Carolina law dictates that car accident victims are entitled to seek compensation from the other driver's insurance company as well as the other driver for injuries and damages.

Interstate trucks are subject to special laws in North Carolina

Truck drivers often carry very heavy loads on North Carolina roads. Many truck drivers drive at night or travel across state lines as part of their job. Truck drivers are usually commercial drivers who have been hired by the trucking company to use their trucks to help them succeed in business.

It is important to consider the large size of the trucks as well as the quantity of the freight that can be transported at various times of the day. With that in mind, North Carolina authorities have established specific rules for interstate truck drivers in order to prevent truck accidents.