In Michigan Is Truck Driver Held to a Higher Standard Of Due Care?
posted: Sep. 29, 2021
In Michigan, car and truck accidents are generally held to the same standard of care as any other driver using motor vehicle statutes. However, the amount of care or obligation that semi-truck drivers and trucking companies have to the public and others sharing the road is the obligation they have to act in a way that one could reasonably be expect of a commercial truck drivers under the circumstance. Sometimes a commercial truck driving expert can be hired to explain to the jury what a reasonably prudent truck driver would have done under the circumstances.
In Michigan, violations of regulations promulgated pursuant to statutory authority are evidence of negligence. Douglas v Edgewater Park Co, 369 Mich 320; 119 NW2d 567 (1963); Juidici v Forsyth Twp, 373 Mich 81; 127 NW2d 853 (1964).
The three standards such as reasonably prudent truck driver, violation of a safety statute and violation of rule or regulation, can be used to, determine if actions taken by a driver could be considered as negligence.
What Are Truck Drivers Due Care?
Truck drivers have the same responsibility to drive and behave with due care as all other drivers on the road, but truck drivers have additional responsibility to follow the federal motor carrier safety regulations and the Michigan motor carrier safety statutes.
In the case of extreme weather condition, the federal motor carrier safety administration had adopted a special section in the FMCSA §392.14 applicable to commercial truck driver’s, which states:
"Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured."
49 CFR 392.14 makes mandatory that operators of commercial vehicles to use “extreme caution”, reduce speed, or stop driving all together if conditions become sufficiently dangerous or to only continue to drive until they are able to find the nearest point to safely stop at which the safety of passengers is assured.
Who makes the decision That The Conditions Are Sufficiently Dangerous To Warrant Discontinuing The Operation Of A Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)?
Under 392.14, the driver is clearly responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle and the truck driver makes the decision to cease operation because of hazardous conditions.
Do Specific Rules and Regulations Apply To Truck Drivers When Stopped?
In addition to plain old common sense, when truck driver decides to stop on the shoulder, a truck driver’s emergency equipment must be used, as well as follow specific rules to be parked on the shoulder of the roadway.
Under 49 CFR 392.22, commercial trucks parking on the shoulders of highways is allowed if the following rules followed. Federal regulation 49 CFR 392.22 states:
When stopping on the highway or shoulder of a highway for a reason other than necessary traffic stops, the truck driver must immediately turn on the vehicles “hazard warning signal flashers”.
The parked truck driver must keep the vehicle’s flashers on in addition to but not in lieu of placing a warning device on the traffic side of the road or highway. The flashers must be left on until the vehicle’s external warning devices are in position. The hazard warning system must again be utilized when the warning devices are being picked up before the vehicle moves on.
The driver must place warning devices as soon as possible, but no later than 10 minutes after stopping on the shoulder.
Approved “warning devices” for big trucks parked on the shoulder of the road include three bi-directional emergency reflective triangles, three red flags, three lighted fusees, and liquid-burning flares.
Stopped big rig truck drivers must place warning devices:
On the traffic side approximately 10 feet from the truck in the direction of oncoming traffic.
At approximately 100 feet from the big rig in the center of the shoulder in the direction of oncoming traffic; and
At approximately 100 feet in the direction away from oncoming traffic.
If a commercial truck is stopped within 500 feet of a curve, crest of a hill, or other obstruction to view, the driver shall place the warning signal required above in the direction of the obstruction to view a distance of 100 feet to 500 feet from the stopped commercial vehicle so as to afford ample warning to other users of the highway.
If gasoline or any other flammable liquid, or combustible liquid or gas seeps or leaks from a fuel container or a commercial truck stopped upon a highway, no emergency warning signal producing a flame shall be lighted or placed except at such a distance from any such liquid or gas as will assure the prevention of a fire or explosion.
Large trucks may stop on the shoulder of a highway as long as the driver obeys the rules for warning other vehicles in the commercial vehicle big rig truck’s presence on the side of the road or highway.
When Is Truck Drivers Extreme Caution Required?
The extreme caution in weather conditions is significant and stricter than a reasonable standard of care. A truck driver’s reasonable standard of care means, what a reasonably prudent truck driver would have done under similar circumstances. A violation of a statute like large truck runs a red light, rear-end truck accident, or drinking and driving are negligence per se.
Extreme caution referenced above is more than ordinary or reasonable care but demands the higher level of caution and specific conduct for the safety of the motoring public and passengers.
In hazardous weather conditions truck drivers are not required to simply required to avoid danger or violation of the law but be proactive in ensuring the safety of the public and themselves including get off the road if it is unsafe to continue driving.
Meaning of Truck Drivers Duty of Due Care To Accident Victims?
To accident victims, if truck drivers fail to conduct themselves with reasonable care in any given situation, or violates a statute, or fails to use extreme caution in hazardous weather conditions, the accident victim should be able to prove the truck driver was negligently responsible for the accident.
In addition, a proper investigation by an experienced truck accident injury lawyer can help establish other violation like operating more hours than allowed, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driver fatigue, to help establish the issue of the truck driver’s liability in the case, and perhaps show the trucking company vicariously liable of the truck driver was driving for a trucking company.
To file an FMCSA complaint, you can either call the agency at 888-DOT-SAFT or fill out their online complaint form. If you submit a complaint to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, your complaint becomes part of the trucking company's permanent record in the National Consumer Complaint Database. The FMCSA will also investigate your complaint.
Trucking companies with a history of driver’s safety violations can be used in court and if violations of the truck driver safety rules and regulations is reported, it would discourage such behavior.
If you have been injured by a negligent big rig truck driver, you can bring a claim against a driver and the trucking company itself which will make more assets available for recovery for accident victims who may have suffered life altering injuries or worse.
Accident victims will be required to prove that a driver was negligent by showing he or she was not operating with reasonable care or extreme caution in cases of extreme weather.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, big rig, or commercial truck accident, and have questions about your claim, the award-winning team of semi truck accident attorneys at The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm have been helping accident victims get the recoveries they deserve from semi truck accidents for more than 27 years and can help you too.
The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm offers case evaluations to all accident victims and their loved ones with no cost and no obligation to sign. Let us advise you and help guide you to the best recovery possible.
Call us today at 248-352-2110 or use the chat or contact options on this website to request your free case evaluation 24/7.
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