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FMG Law Blog Line

Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Georgians: Hang Up and Drive

Posted on: May 9th, 2018

By: Wesley C.  Jackson

Beginning July 1, 2018, it will be illegal for Georgians to hold their phones while driving. The new law was signed by Governor Nathan Deal on Wednesday May 2, 2018.

How might this new law effect auto-accident litigation in Georgia? A motorist injured by a distracted driver must establish that the distracted driver acted negligently. Formerly, the injured motorist would have to convince a jury that the distracted driver’s conduct breached his duty to exercise ordinary care. But now, if a distracted driver violates the new hands-free law, he will be presumed to have breached this duty as a matter of law due to the doctrine of “negligence per se.”

When a defendant violates a statute and injures someone the statute was designed to protect, the doctrine of negligence per se shifts the burden of proof at trial from the plaintiff to the defendant. The plaintiff no longer needs to prove that the defendant acted negligently; instead, the defendant is presumed to have acted negligently unless he can show that he unintentionally violated the statute and otherwise exercised ordinary care.

So, if a driver causes an accident while on his phone and is convicted of violating the new hands-free statute, a plaintiff could argue that the defendant was presumptively negligent because the defendant violated a statute that was intended to protect other motorists from auto accidents caused by distracted drivers. The injured driver would still have to prove that the distracted driver’s negligence caused her injuries, but the bar for recovery will be lower if the distracted driver violated the new law.

Hopefully, Georgia’s new law will encourage drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. But when accidents (and lawsuits) occur, injured plaintiffs may have a new offensive strategy with the negligence per se doctrine.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Wes Jackson at [email protected]. If you send Mr. Jackson an email, please do not do so while driving.

UPS Orders Tesla Electric Big Rigs – One Step Closer to Driverless Semis

Posted on: December 22nd, 2017

By: Wayne S. Melnick

Last month, Tesla Motors announced that it was taking its electronic vehicle technology one step further with the unveiling of the Electric Semi Truck .  If the numbers are to be believed, the Tesla Semi not only achieves 0-60 in five seconds (unloaded) by also reduces the cost of shipping from $1.51/mile to $1.26/mile.

Earlier this week, United Parcel Service announced it was going all-in on the Tesla Semi ordering 125 of the new units.   At an estimated cost between $150,000-$200,000/unit, that order could be worth as much as $25M.  (Yes, 25 Million Dollars).  If you’ve been following this story, this is not the end of the line, but rather, just the beginning. With that big an investment, it is clear that UPS and Tesla have their eyes on the future.  Electronic Trucks are just the first steps towards what is expected to the ultimate goal: Driverless Semis.

We will continue to keep watch of developments of this technology.  Needless to say, the idea of Driverless Semis raises all sorts of legal and insurance questions.  As such, it is important to stay on top of developments and FMG will continue to keep you informed as they occur.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact Wayne Melnick at [email protected].

Debate Over the ELD Mandate Intensifies

Posted on: October 6th, 2017

By: Parker M. Green

The debate over mandatory ELDs continues to intensify as the December 18th compliance deadline approaches. With less than 75 days until the deadline (FMG’s compliance countdown), some truck drivers are now resorting to desperate measures to voice their displeasure over the federal mandate. The best example occurred in Sacramento, CA earlier today. According to news reports, a line of commercial trucks formed a blockade across all lanes of traffic on Highway 99, which prevented other vehicles from getting around. Some of the truck drivers even completely stopped in the middle of Highway 99. The involved truck drivers call their protest “Operation Black and Blue,” which they describe as a nationwide effort by commercial drivers. It remains to be seen whether their form of protest spreads to other metropolitan areas and highways.

For additional information on the ELD mandate, please refer to the law journal article that Parker Green co-authored with fellow FMG attorneys Wayne Melnick and Matt Grattan here.  If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Parker M. Green at [email protected].

U.S. House of Representatives Preparing to Vote on a Proposed 2-year Delay of the ELD Mandate

Posted on: September 6th, 2017

By: Parker M. Green

The House could vote on a proposed 2-year delay of the ELD Mandate as soon as this afternoon. U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) introduced the proposal – known as the “ELD Extension Act of 2017” – over the summer to postpone the December 18th compliance deadline until 2019. The proposal would amend a 2018 fiscal budget and effectively deny funding for the new ELD regulations. If adopted, the House would add the proposal to a fiscal 2018 funding bill before it proceeds to the Senate for further consideration.

The proposed delay of the ELD Mandate’s compliance deadline has been a source of contentious debate for several years. Proponents of a 2-year delay include the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (“OOIDA”), which argues that large sectors of the transportation industry would benefit from the extra time to implement compliant ELD systems. The key opponents of the proposal – namely the FMCSA and American Trucking Association – claim that the industry was provided more than enough time to prepare, implement, and comply with the ELD Mandate under the existing deadline.

As it stands today, the industry still faces a December 18, 2017 compliance deadline with ELD Mandate, which is barely more than 100 days away according to our countdown clock. Recent efforts to delay implementation of mandatory ELDs are poised to make the run-up to December 18th interesting. However, Congress must still act with uncharacteristic speed and efficiency for any delay of the ELD Mandate to become a reality.

For any questions, please feel free to contact Parker Green at [email protected].

Efforts to Postpone ELD Mandate Build Momentum

Posted on: July 20th, 2017

By: Parker M. Green

Legislative efforts are underway that could end up delaying the December 18, 2017 compliance deadline with the electronic logging device (“ELD”) mandate. The transportation law practice group recently created a countdown clock to the compliance deadline, which has been a source of contentious debate in the transportation industry for several years.  Now, with only 150 days until the deadline, Congress has given ELD opponents a sign of hope.

First, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee issued a report on Monday directing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to “analyze whether a full or targeted delay in ELD implementation and enforcement would be appropriate and, if so, what options DOT has within its statutory authority to provide temporary regulatory relief until all ELD implementation challenges can be resolved.” The Committee passed the directive, which has been sent to the full House for consideration. As a result, the FMCSA must now provide Congressional appropriations committees with a full report on its findings within the next 60 days.  A full text of the Committee’s directive is available here

Then, only 1 day after the directive, U.S Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) introduced the “ELD Extension Act of 2017” to the House of Representatives. The proposed bill would delay the ELD mandate’s compliance deadline by two years, or until December 2019. The bill has been referred to the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which represents an initial step in what is usually a prolonged legislative process. Nevertheless, the proposed bill coupled with the Committee’s directive signal growing momentum in favor of postponing the December 18, 2017 compliance deadline, if not repealing the Congressional ELD mandate in its entirety. Congress must act unusually fast– i.e., enact necessary legislation in less than 90-120 days – to officially postpone the ELD deadline.  That window would be cut in half if the FMCSA takes the full 60 days allotted for providing its “full report” on targeted and/or full delays of the ELD mandate.  Needless to say, Congress rarely (if ever) moves with the speed and efficiency required to enact legislation within those time constraints.

For any questions please contact Parker Green at [email protected].