Co-drivers can be found in trucks for a variety of reasons. In some cases it’s to help trucking companies adhere to the hours-of-service rules. They can help a truck driver uphold the rule requiring a 30-minute off-duty break after eight hours have passed since the last off-duty break (or sleeper berth period).
Additionally, a co-driver might take over when the driver has reached the 11-hour maximum driving limit. Whatever the reason, if there’s an accident it’s important to consider how a co-driver might be liable.
Examples of How a Co-Driver (Passenger) Could Be Liable for a Truck Accident
Depending on the circumstances, a co-driver might be partly responsible for a crash. For example, a co-driver may be responsible for a truck crash if he or she has knowledge of a dangerous situation that could cause an accident and does nothing about it. For instance, passengers may recognize signs that the driver is sleepy such as nodding off, eyes closing, swerving, driving onto the shoulder, etc.
Even though the driver has a responsibility to pull over and stop driving if tired, the co-driver has the ability to intervene. Failing to do so could be considered negligence.
Other instances in which a co-driver might observe dangers are when the driver is:
- sick; or
- distracted (such as texting).
In other cases, a co-driver could be directly at fault for the accident through:
- playing loud music; or
A co-driver doesn’t need to be in the passenger seat, he or she could also be in the sleeper berth and still be held liable for these distractions.
Co-drivers can also fail to follow federal regulations. Logbooks are the means that truck drivers use to track driving data. A co-driver must spend eight consecutive hours in the sleeping berth and may be in the passenger seat for two hours when the vehicle is moving without it counting toward on-duty time.
Any additional time is on-duty/not driving time and counts toward the 14-hour driving period as well as the eight hours after which the driver must take a break.
In terms of logbooks and liability, both the driver and co-driver can be held liable if:
- there is missing information in the logbook;
- the logbook has been altered; or
- the logbook outright shows violations.
How an Attorney May Be Able to Help Establish Liability
Truck accident cases can be challenging, with so many complicated laws that apply; not only in regard to a co-driver but many other issues as well. These accidents usually necessitate a thorough investigation—particularly if it’s resulted in serious or fatal injuries. Oftentimes there is more than one party liable, which could include the trucking company, co-driver and others.
There may be a lot at stake financially including medical bills, the loss of income and the pain and suffering that a victim or the family of a loved one has experienced.
An attorney can help collect the evidence necessary to show liability; not only proof obtained at the accident scene but records retrieved from the trucking company. Additionally, an attorney can help determine the types of damages an accident victim may seek.
Set up your consultation with D.J. Banovitz today by calling 303-300-5060 or contacting us online.