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San Antonio Law Blog

Hours of service rules in commercial vehicle accident cases, P.2

In any personal injury case, a plaintiff is required to prove certain elements at trial in order to build a viable case. These elements vary from claim to claim, but any negligence claim must generally involve proof of four basic elements: duty; breach; causation and harm.

Together, these elements essentially involve demonstrating that the defendant failed to abide by a legal duty and that this caused harm to the plaintiff. There are a variety of ways to demonstrate breach of duty in personal injury claims depending on the specific facts of the case. In cases involving commercial drivers, it is important to explore the possibility of regulatory violations as an avenue of establishing breach of duty.  

Hours of service rules in commercial vehicle accident cases, P.1

Recently, we’ve been looking at the topic of drowsy or fatigued driving and its effects on motor vehicle safety. As we’ve noted, researchers have compared the impairment caused by fatigue to impairment caused by alcohol, and the consequences of this impairment are potentially very serious for commercial vehicle drivers given the size and weight of these vehicles and the number of people potentially impacted.

As we’ve previously pointed out, federal regulators are well aware of these risks and are responsible for administering the hours of service rules. These rules apply to most commercial vehicle drivers and govern the number of hours truckers can be behind the wheel on a daily and weekly basis, as well as rest breaks. Truckers are required to comply with these rules or face penalties, and employers are expected to monitor employees for compliance as well.

Do hours-of-service rules keep drowsy drivers off the road?

As a follow up on our recent post about driver fatigue, we look at rules designed to prevent it.

Truck driving is a job that requires long hours and pressure to be on time. Maneuvering a large rig down busy city streets or a crowded highway is no easy task. Being sleepy on the job isn't good for anyone. But in the trucking industry driver fatigue is especially dangerous.

Drowsy driving: looking at the risks, the toll

All of our readers have probably, at some point, experienced drowsiness or fatigue while driving. Those who have experienced significant fatigue behind the wheel know that it is a very dangerous state in which to drive, and that it can quickly and easily lead to serious motor vehicle accidents.

The impact of fatigue on driving is significant enough that authorities say it can be compared to alcohol intoxication. The Governors Highway Safety Association provides the following estimates: 18 hours without sleep is like having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%; 21 hours without sleep is like a BAC of 0.08%; and 24 hours without sleep is like a BAC of 0.10%. 

Why driver distraction is becoming a crisis on our roads

Convenience is a high priority for everyone as we all try to fit ever more into each day. Often jobs require that more than one task be completed at the same time to maximize productivity. When this multi-tasking mindset extends to time behind the wheel it increases the number of accidents on our roads.

While cell phones take most of the blame for distracting drivers, texting or playing Pokemon Go! are not the only activities that take a driver's attention away from the task at hand. In a 2015, insurance company survey, drivers admitted to activities from trying to read a book to changing clothes while driving.

It is largely because of this that in 2014 more than 430,000 people suffered injuries in crashes when a driver was distracted. The number killed in these needless crashes topped 3000 across the country. These numbers are only increasing.

Patients: be aware of the risks involved in telemedicine care

In a previous post, we noted that there are certain risks for patients who make use of telehealth or telemedicine care. Proponents of telemedicine say it is a relatively low liability area of practice given that it isn’t going to commonly be used as a way of addressing complicated or high- risk conditions.

There may be some truth to these claims, but it is also true that errors can still occur in the practice of telemedicine. Physicians can still miss diagnoses or misdiagnose. They may still prescribe incorrect medications or make other errors regarding dosage. There may also be additional risk when receiving such services from a physician who doesn’t know the patient’s medical history and who has never seen the patient in person.

Why you need to take marijuana charges seriously

Laws regarding marijuana usage and possession are in a state of flux throughout the US. As many states loosen up their laws, it can be easy to slip into the mindset that if it is okay somewhere else, it is okay here too.

Marijuana is still illegal in Texas and penalties are strict. Even a charge for the possession of a small amount can carry significant consequences that could affect access to college loans, as well as housing and employment options.

Why does Texas lead the nation in fatal truck accidents?

The weight differential between big rigs and passenger vehicles is an obvious cause of serious injuries and death in these cases. Why our state leads the nation in fatal trucking accidents is more nuanced.

Recently, a jury decided that surviving family members of a young truck-accident victim deserved many millions of dollars in damages. The 42-year-old Fredricksburg man was killed near Burnet in February 2015. His minivan crashed into an 18-wheeler that had slid to a stop across State Highway 29 after its driver lost control and hit a guardrail on the icy roadway, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The victim left behind his wife and two daughters as well as his mother.

Bill seeks to expand practice of telemedicine in Texas

As readers may be aware, the growth of telemedicine in the United States is swift and holds promise for increasing access to quality medical care for those with limited access to brick and mortar facilities. Most states have recognized the benefits of telemedicine and taken steps to allow health care providers to offer direct to consumer telehealth care.

Texas is not among those states, much to the dismay of enterprising health care providers in the state. Earlier this week, though, representatives of the health care industry in Texas submitted a bill to the Texas legislature to address issues that have prevented the growth of telemedicine in Texas. 

Accident victims: take your medical and legal needs seriously

The aftermath of any motor vehicle accident has the potential to be completely chaotic. Cars are disabled and debris is scattered across the roadway, which quickly becomes congested with bystanders and rubberneckers. There are other people involved in the accident and witnesses gathering. If a crash is serious, police and ambulance will also be on the scene.

In all this activity, it can be easy to minimize or look past your own seemingly minor injuries in favor of giving police your statement and just getting back home. However, neglecting your own medical needs can have devastating consequences, particularly if you are suffering from a concussion or other type of brain injury.

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