Articles Tagged with Cmv Law

The Accident Register: Overview

A motor carrier is required to prepare and maintain a list of certain accidents. This “accident register” provides significant information regarding the type of accidents involved. It may allow a motor carrier to be compared statistically with other motor carriers using data available on the SAFER system database. Further, the motor carrier is required to maintain certain accident reports that further describe the accident(s) listed on the register.

The Accident Register

Nature & Amount of Security Required: Overview

The regulations prescribe what form the “evidence of financial responsibility” shall take, how it may be cancelled, and how it may be obtained by a member of the public. Further, the regulations prescribe certain levels of financial responsibility based on the nature of the freight transported. The type of instrument used to provide evidence of financial responsibility may create exposure for the entity issuing the instrument above and beyond that created by an insurance policy. The “MCS-90” endorsement, a form prescribed by the FMCSRs, is the most important and most common instrument used to collect against a motor carrier who causes injury but for whatever reason does not have coverage, whether because the vehicle was not covered or the motor carrier itself breached a policy condition. It is important to understand this endorsement and it is therefore the focus of this chapter.

Nature and Amount of Security Required

The regulations require an interstate motor carrier to produce “evidence of financial responsibility” to the FMCSA in order to obtain and maintain a permit to operate. The many variations of this topic and the related subject of insurance coverage for motor carriers and independent owner-operators, are beyond the scope of this blog post. However, familiarity with the regulations and their requirements will provide a good basis for identifying the typical sources of recovery from a motor carrier. It is important to know how a motor carrier may provide its “evidence of financial responsibility,” how much financial responsibility it must demonstrate, and what rules govern the ability to recover.

Applicability of Financial Responsibility Requirements: Overview

The implications that arise when a motor carrier falls under the FMCSRs’ requirements for evidence of financial responsibility can be significant. In questionable cases, it must be determine whether the motor carrier was required to comply. This discussion will focus on motor carriers of property, but note that the regulations also address the financial responsibility obligations of motor carriers of passengers, property brokers, and freight forwarders.

Pertinent Case Law

First, the USDOT has interpreted regulation to say that it is the driver, not the motor carrier, who makes the call on discontinuing operation.  If the driver says he wanted to pull over but was told by the motor carrier that no shut-down had been declared, both parties may be at fault.

Weaver v. Chavez

Pertinent Case Law

The courts recognize a distinction between a claim of a shipper against a motor carrier when cargo is damaged, as opposed to a claim by a member of the traveling public injured by an improperly secured load. This distinction was illustrated in the case of Syngenta Crop Production, Inc. v. Doyle Brant, Inc., which involved a spill of a load of Diazinon pesticide and a claim by the manufacturer against the motor carrier and its driver. Quoting United States v. Savage Truck Line, Inc., the Syngenta court noted the majority rule that allocates responsibility between a shipper and motor carrier as follows:

When the shipper assumes the responsibility of loading, the general rule is that he becomes liable for defects which are latent and concealed and cannot be discerned by ordinary observation by the agent of the carrier, but if the improper loading is apparent, the carrier will be liable notwithstanding the negligence of the shipper.

Schedules and Speed Limits: Overview

This regulation is quite simple, straightforward and often overlooked. It may provide a powerful argument against a motor carrier, particularly when coupled with the DOT interpretation which accompanies it. The regulation essentially codifies the requirement that a motor carrier who imposes some time limitation upon the driver movement from one point to another must analyze how long the trip may take, given prevailing speed limits. The opportunity for critical analysis of a motor carrier’s operations is dramatic when this is not done.

Schedules & Speeds

CMV Maximum Driving Time: ObservationsCMV Hours Of Service

These rules limit driving to eleven hours over a fourteen-hour period between ten hours of rest for property-carrying vehicles, and ten hours driving over a fifteen-hour period after eight hours rest for a passenger-carrying CMV. However, as the “11 hours driving in a 14 hour period” rule suggests, there is more to working as a driver than just driving. A driver may wait at a shipper’s terminal for hours. He may have to fill out paperwork, inspect and fuel his truck, or load or unload cargo. These activities are all included within “on-duty” time, and they all count towards the maximum period of time a driver may go – fourteen hours – between rests of at least ten hours. (or fifteen hours on-duty between eight hours rest for a passenger carrying CMV).

Thus, a cargo driver who has sat at a terminal waiting four hours for his truck to be loaded may only drive ten hours before he takes his ten hours of off-duty rest. This rule must be examined in every case where there is any suspicion of forged logs or avoidance of the rules. Note also the concern with cumulative fatigue, embodied in the regulation’s prohibition against driving after seventy hours on duty over an eight day period for an every-day-a-week motor carrier that is hauling property. Thus, a driver who drives eleven hours and takes ten hours off every day, counting round the clock, is out of hours by day six of the eight day period, assuming he has no “on-duty, not driving” time. To be sure, a driver with no “on duty-not driving” time is highly suspect in any event.

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