Fatigue and Falsifying Driver Logs - Truck Accident Injuries in Tennessee

Nashville Injury Lawyers Handling Trucker Fatigue Claims

Holding trucking companies accountable for falsifying log books and other unsafe practices

Commercial trucking is an aggressive business. There are a lot of independent drivers out there fighting for space on the road. Company owners must find a way to turn a profit in the face of hearty competition. When a trucking company cuts corners in order to increase their profits, they put their drivers and the population at large at risk. Sometimes those risks have devastating consequences.

At Rocky McElhaney Law Firm in Nashville, we understand all too well what those risks are. We recognize the kind of damage they can do to the lives of accident victims. We refuse to let negligent trucking companies continue unsafe practices that put our friends, neighbors, and loved ones at risk. Our skilled truck accident attorneys in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville have years of experience fighting on behalf of injury victims throughout Tennessee. We’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients who suffered because of the preventable actions of another. We’re not afraid to stand up to companies that put their profit margins above the safety of others.

"When I was a teenager, Dad got hurt. Insurance company wouldn't pay. We lost our house. But, Dad got a lawyer and we got justice. That's the moment I decided to become an attorney. As a lawyer, I have dedicated my life to helping injury victims."

~ Rocky

How common is truck driver fatigue?

In the last Large Truck Crash Causation Study, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said 13% of all truckers involved in accidents were considered fatigued at the time. In the years since that study was conducted, the FMCSA has done a lot of work to help reduce truck driver fatigue. They’ve instituted different hours-of-service regulations and introduced studies regarding the benefits of artificial intelligence (and driverless trucks). They’ve examined whether or not a trucker’s commute affected his or her ability to drive safely. They’ve even started researching whether a Fatigue Detection/Warning System would help reduce the number of crashes linked to tired truckers.

There were 13,921 truck accidents in Tennessee in 2021. Of those incidents, 187 fatal accident involved a driver who was “apparently fatigued or asleep.”

What are the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations?

Commercial trucking companies are required to comply with federal regulations, state laws, and trucking industry standards, and that includes the Hours of Service rules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has precise rules that regulate when truck drivers must rest. Truck drivers are required by law to rest after a certain number of hours driving. If a driver is offered incentives to drive more quickly or to falsify their logbooks by the company owners or managers, we can make a case against the company itself.

  • Trucking companies that transport cargo must ensure that their drivers comply with the following rules:
    • After 10 consecutive hours off duty, drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours.
    • After 10 consecutive hours off duty, drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty.
    • After driving for 8 cumulative hours without one 30-minute rest break, drivers must take a 30-minute break.
    • Drivers cannot drive after 60/70 hours on duty during 7/8 consecutive days. “A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.”
    • Other conditions apply for sleeper berths, adverse driving conditions, and short-hauls.

What are truck driver logs?

The FMCSA requires that trucking companies use electronic logging devices (ELDs). Trucking companies and drivers must use an ELD to track the hours of service of the drivers. The ELD connects to the truck’s engines to record the hours the truck is in operation.

Attempting to falsify these logs can have severe penalties for drivers and trucking companies alike, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. Greedy truck driving companies that falsify electronic logs, keep two sets of records, or manipulate other critical records may be liable for punitive damages.

What other regulations govern truck drivers and trucking companies in Nashville?

Trucking companies have specific compliance requirements including:

  • Loading cargo properly. An unbalanced truck is a truck likely to tip over. Improperly loading cargo can lead to an unbalanced load or allow debris to fly from the back of the truck. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific loading and unloading rules that apply to warehouses, plants, grain handling facilities, retail locations, marine terminals, wharves, piers, and shipyards. The FMCSA has specific cargo securement rules “to prevent articles from shifting on or within, or falling from commercial motor vehicles.”
  • Proper maintenance and inspection. Brakes, lighting, tires, hydraulic systems – all of these must be checked before a driver goes out on the road. Being thrifty on the maintenance checks or failing to replace defective brakes or tires could lead to a serious accident. Federal law requires that:
    • “Every motor carrier and intermodal equipment provider must systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles and intermodal equipment subject to its control.
    • Parts and accessories shall be in safe and proper operating condition at all times. [The parts and accessories include the] frame and frame assemblies, suspension systems, axles and attaching parts, wheels and rims, and steering systems.”
    • The FMCSA has additional regulations that require trucking companies conduct post-trip inspections and yearly inspections which must be kept within the truck for review. Any defects must be noted. Any defects that affect safe operation must be repaired before the truck can be used again.

Truck drivers are supposed to check their truck regularly to ensure that it’s running well. The company can be held liable for not following up on a trucker’s report, failing to maintain its fleet of vehicles, or forcing drivers into situations with unrealistic goals. We work with field experts and engineers to build a case against company owners, managers, and employees when their negligence leads directly or indirectly to your injury.

When is a trucking company negligent for not monitoring its drivers?

While driver negligence causes a number of accidents every year, some accidents have less to do with the drivers and more to do with the people they drive for. Many truck accidents happen because trucking companies don’t make every effort to ensure their drivers are qualified and experienced. Our Nashville unsafe truck accident lawyers help people whose accidents resulted from:

  • Lack of driver training. Trucking companies are responsible for training their drivers and employees. Inadequate training – both in driving the specific trucks and in safety – can cause a driver to make a mistake while driving or in an emergency situation.
  • Bad hiring practices. Commercial truck drivers must have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) in order to drive a truck in Tennessee or anywhere in America. Failing to perform even the most basic background checks can lead to hiring inexperienced, unlicensed, or poorly prepared drivers. Drivers must be 18 or older to drive in-state and 21 or older to drive across state lines or transport hazardous materials. They must have at least one to two years of driving experience. Their license cannot be suspended. The driver must also have a valid medical examiner’s certificate.

For more information on truck accident injuries, please visit our Tennessee Truck Accident Attorney's Guide.

What damages can you seek after an accident with a fatigued trucker in Nashville?

At Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, our Nashville unsafe truck accident lawyers demand compensation for all your current and future damages including all your:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income and benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Property damage
  • Loss of bodily function
  • Loss of life’s pleasures and loss of consortium (marital pleasures)

We also file a wrongful death claim if a loved one died in any type of truck accident.

Do you have a truck accident lawyer near me?

Rocky McElhaney Law Firm has two offices in Nashville: one at 545 Mainstream Dr., Suite 105 and one at 615 Main Street, B21. We also have state-of-the-art offices in Hendersonville and Clarksville. If you are too injured to come to our offices, we will make home and hospital visits. You can also schedule a phone or video consultation.

All initial consultations are free. We handle unsafe truck accident claims on a contingency fee basis.

Contact our experienced Nashville truck accident lawyers now

We understand that after an accident, you have questions and concerns. At Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we answer your questions and offer you comprehensive guidance every step of the way. If you were injured in an accident with a truck, we are ready to help. Our lawyers have an impressive record of successful settlements and trials for truck accident cases. Please call 615-425-2500  or fill out our contact form. We proudly serve clients in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville.