Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Federal Safety Rules for Interstate Bus and Truck Drivers

Posted Friday, December 8, 2017 by Chris Thayer

In June 2017, a 25-year-old man left Seattle on an overnight Greyhound bus bound for California. The bus made a brief stop in Central Point, Oregon, and began to depart before one passenger made it back onboard. Hunter Brown ran alongside the bus and pounded its side, but then he tripped right in the bus’s path. The bus struck him, and he died.

Now Brown’s family is suing Greyhound Lines, claiming that the bus company violated federal safety rules and accusing it of gross negligence. They filed the lawsuit in Texas, where Greyhound hoses its principal place of business. Specifically, Brown’s parents claim that the bus driver had been driving longer than allowed under federal law. They have not yet asked for specific monetary damages but seek “accountability of this corporation and a change in how it does business to protect our communities and so that other passengers do not have to endure what Hunter suffered.”

The lawsuit alleges that the Greyhound driver was “late, fatigued and hostile to the passengers he was supposed to keep safe.” The bus was an hour late leaving Seattle and, allegedly, the driver had already been driving for nine and a half hours.

What is Gross Negligence?

According to the Washington State Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions, gross negligence “is substantially greater than ordinary negligence.” It means “failure to exercise slight care.” The term has never been explicitly defined by state statute.

However, the Washington standard will not apply in the Brown family’s case since the lawsuit was filed in Texas.

Federal Safety Rules for Interstate Bus and Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established specific regulations regarding how many hours interstate bus and truck drivers carrying passengers can serve. The goal is to help drivers stay alert and awake and to keep fatigued drivers off the roads. A driver who does not follow these rules may be found negligent or grossly negligent.

Interstate bus and truck operators may only drive shifts up to 10 hours, but only if they rest at least eight hours between shifts. They are also not allowed to drive after they have been on duty for 60 hours in any consecutive seven-day period. The Brown family’s complaint only alleges that the Greyhound operator violated the 10-hour limit, not that he violated the rest period rules.

Companies that operate vehicles every day of the week may follow the 70-hour/eight-day schedule. Drivers are only permitted to operate their vehicles up to 70 hours in any consecutive eight-day period. After that they must rest from driving; they, like those following the 60-hour/seven-day schedule, are permitted to perform other work.

There are other rules that interstate bus and truck operators must follow. Any violations of federal (or state) safety rules may lead to injury and leave the operator and employer liable for personal injury damages.

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Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a bus or trucking accident. Our experienced attorneys will help recover the compensation that you deserve.