Driver log violations ruled negligence per se
A U.S. District Court judge in Colorado has ruled that violation of the FMCSR driver log rule is negligence of a matter of law, but that the plaintiff must present evidence of a causal relationship between the violation and the wreck. In Hill v. Western Door, 2005 WL 2991589 (D.Colo.,2005), the court ruled:
[T]he requirement that drivers keep an accurate log of their duty status is related to the safety of other travelers on the road. Drivers are required to record their duty status so compliance with the limitations on hours of service contained in Part 395 can be monitored and enforced. FMCSR 395.3 and 305.5 provide specific limitations on the number or hours a commercial vehicle operator can be driving during certain periods of time. Although the regulations do not explicitly declare their purpose, the tie between safety and fatigue is clear. Safety undoubtedly is one of the key purposes of the limitations on hours of service in Part 395, and of the record keeping requirement of FMCSR 395.8. I find that this regulation was intended to promote the safe operation of commercial vehicles, including the safety of people, like the plaintiffs, who share the road with commercial vehicles. Although FMCSR 395.8 also might have been designed to aid the management and organization of commercial vehicles, as the defendants argue, the connection between safety and limitations on driving times is so clear that I cannot disregard that purpose. A tired driver has the same potential to jeopardize the safety of others on the road as does a truck stopped on the highway.
Then, unfortunately, the court found that in the absence of evidence in the record to show a causal connection between the log violation and the wreck, summary judgment was granted on the log book violation portion of the claim.
Hill v. Western Door should be read in conjunction with Came v. Micou, 2005 WL 1500978 (M.D.Pa.,2005), in which the plaintiff presented evidence of causation through two expert reports — one an expert on trucking safety and the other an expert on driver fatigue issues — to the effect that the violations were the precipitating factors leading to the collision.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).