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Are Truck Drivers Held to a Higher Standard Of Due Care than Other Drivers?

With regard to car and truck accidents, the concept of due care refers to the duty or obligation that semi-truck drivers and trucking companies have to their passengers and others on the road is the obligation they have to act in a way that one could reasonably be expect a person to behave in a given circumstance.

This standard is used to determine if actions taken by a driver could be considered as negligent but are all drivers held to this same standard? 

Due Care Requirements for Truck Drivers

Truck drivers have the same responsibility to drive and behave with due care as all other drivers on the road, but truck drivers are held to a higher duty of care specifically in cases of extreme weather. 

This increased standard of due care comes from Federal Motorist Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA part 392.14 which states that,

"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."

This section requires operators of commercial vehicles to reduce speed or even stop driving all together if conditions are extreme enough or to only continue to drive until they are able to find the nearest safe place to stop. 

When stopped, truck drivers are subject to specific rules and regulations for equipment that must be on the vehicle as well as where and what direction trucks must be parked in relation to traffic if stopped on or near a roadway. 

Reasonable Care vs. Extreme Caution 

The distinction between reasonable care and extreme caution is significant in that while reasonable care requirements allow for a certain level of human error, the classification of extreme caution is far more stringent. 

Reasonable care means that while things like clear violations of the law such as drinking and driving, distracted driving and extreme speeding are violations, the law and general common sense is about where the obligation ends. 

Extreme caution not only calls for more than what would be expected from a reasonable person but demands the highest levels of caution possible in these situations. 

This means that in hazardous conditions truck drivers aren't required to simply avoid clear wrongdoing or danger, but also make all practical steps to ensure their safety and the safety of those around them including stopping driving all together if it is unsafe to continue.

What Does a Truckers Duty of Due Care Mean for Accident Victims?

When a truck driver fails to act with reasonable due care in any situation or with extreme caution in hazardous weather conditions and is involved in an accident the question of liability or negligence in an accident becomes all but settled in most cases. 

Simple things such as operating a vehicle for more consecutive hours than allowed or while under the influence, fatigued, or outside of proper working condition could not only decide the question of liability in the case, but implicate the company the driver was working for at the time of the accident as well. 

Trucking companies with a history of drivers being reported for unsafe practices or even being reported by drivers for encouraging violations of safety rules and regulations have records saved that can be used against them in accident cases involving their drivers.

Being able to bring a claim not just against a driver and their insurance but also against 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 still be required to prove that a driver was not operating with reasonable care or extreme caution in cases of extreme weather which can be more complicated than it sounds in many cases and require an in-depth investigation into the accident

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a semi truck, and have questions about your claim, the award-winning team of semi truck accident attorneys at Davis Law Group have been helping accident victims get the recoveries they deserve from semi truck accidents for more than 20-years and can help you too. 

Davis Law Group offers case evaluations to accident victims and their loved ones with no cost and no obligation to sign, let us help guide you to the best recovery possible and request a free case evaluation today. Call us at 206-727-4000 or use the chat or contact options on this page to request your free case evaluation 24/7.

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.