A fatigued truck driver is one of the most dangerous types of motorists. It’s one of the worst kinds of negligence for the simple fact that it’s the most avoidable. There are thousands of instances every year where a truck driver causes severe injuries – and even deaths – just because they chose to remain behind the wheel even when they knew they were too tired to do so safely.
A Penn Kestner & McEwen attorney will be ready to help you file a truck accident lawsuit if you were hurt due to a fatigued truck driver or another reason. We’ll investigate the crash and determine all of the potentially liable parties so you can obtain every penny you have coming. Contact us online or call (800) 732-3070 for a free consultation.
Why is Driving While Fatigued so Dangerous?
Even though federal regulations expressly prohibit truck drivers from being behind the wheel when fatigued, they do it anyway – often with devastating results. Unfortunately, this is a problem among all drivers, not just truck drivers. It’s estimated that as many as 6,000 people die every year in the U.S. due to accidents where fatigued driving is a factor.
When someone is fatigued while driving a regular passenger car, that’s dangerous enough. But try operating a machine as complex as a huge commercial truck when you can barely stay awake. It’s almost unfathomable to believe anyone could do this safely.
There are already plenty of challenges that drivers face when they’re completely alert. When they must deal with issues such as severe weather, sudden changes in traffic conditions, and others, they can easily be involved in a catastrophic accident. The chances of that happening rise exponentially when they’re tired.
Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue
There are lots of reasons why truck driver fatigue happens. The biggest one is trying to meet often unreasonable deadlines set by their employer. Many trucking companies only care about profits – if that conflicts with safety, so be it. They’ll force drivers to exceed their limitations, often with tragic results.
But truck drivers aren’t above being held accountable for their decision to drive when they’re exhausted. Many of them are paid by the mile, so if they’re delayed for any reason, they may try to push through it. A fatigued truck driver may have been slowed down by traffic, construction, or some other reason. Since they want to make as much money as they can, they will oftentimes drive when they’re well aware they need to rest.
What are the Truck Regulations Regarding Fatigue?
Again, federal regulations are very clear when it comes to how long a truck driver can remain behind the wheel. The Hours of Service rule is very easy to understand. Drivers must take a break after driving for 11 consecutive hours – and they must not have driven for 10 consecutive hours before that. They can’t drive in excess of 60 hours over a period of one week or 70 hours over eight straight days.
Even when they comply with these rules – which is, in many cases, an all-too-rare occurrence – truck drivers will often still be tired. Even though they have to be off for 10 consecutive hours, no federal agency can obviously force them to sleep or rest that entire time. Then, when they get back behind the wheel for several hours at a time, they’ll likely be extremely fatigued yet again.
How to Prove the Driver that Hit You Was Fatigued
There are several types of evidence that an attorney will try to obtain on your behalf. When it comes to proving truck driver fatigue, there are several ways of doing so.
For example, your attorney can check the driver’s logbook. Drivers must keep track of their hours of service, and most of them will write them into a book. However, there are systems built into some trucks that record how many hours the driver is operating the rig. Some of these systems only monitor the hours. Others can make the truck inoperable if the driver has gone past their federally-mandated limits.
There are other records an attorney can obtain as well. These include toll receipts, which will show the time and date when a truck went through a toll collection point. Gas receipts will often have time and date information as well, showing how long the truck was on the road. Bills of lading can also be used. These are issued when cargo is loaded.
Who’s Liable When Driver Fatigue Causes an Accident?
The trucking company, for instance, may have failed to properly maintain the truck. They may have been completely aware that the brakes were worn or that some other component needed maintenance. However, they failed to do so in the interest of chasing profits. After all, taking a truck off of the road would eat into those profits. If an accident takes place due to that decision, you may be able to sue both parties.
There are other instances where a defective product can contribute to an accident. The tires on a truck could have been defective, leading to a blowout that caused the fatigued driver to lose control. If a third party loaded the trailer, and the cargo shifted due to negligence, that could cause a loss of control as well. You could possibly sue the manufacturer of the defective product and the cargo loading company.
Should I Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
Your best – and only – chance of getting full and fair compensation will be to hire an attorney. Your legal representative will launch an immediate investigation into the accident and also take action against all liable parties. There’s going to be a lot of money on the line, and the opposition will be fierce as a result. You won’t be able to win without experienced legal help.
Contact Penn Kestner & McEwen if You Were Hit by a Fatigued Truck Driver
The firm of Penn Kestner & McEwen will be ready to help if you’ve suffered an injury in an accident caused by a fatigued truck driver. Use our online form to set up a free case review, or give us a call at (800) 732-3070.