Just about everyone has driven while tired. But most of us know when we’re too tired to be behind the wheel. A lot of times, the same can’t be said for truck drivers. They’ll push themselves beyond their limits in far too many instances, causing accidents resulting in severe injuries. The medical treatment to treat those injuries can be incredibly expensive, and recovery can take months or longer.
You should immediately speak with a Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh truck accident lawyer if you’ve suffered an injury due to truck driver fatigue. Our law firm will fight aggressively to deliver positive results. If we’re not successful, you won’t pay a dime. Call (561) 295-5825 or contact us online for a free consultation to learn more about how we may be able to help.
Drowsy Driving Statistics
Truckers will often push through exhaustion to make unreasonable deadlines or make as much money as possible. It’s not unheard of for them to stay behind the wheel for as long as 15 or even 20 hours, even though that’s a clear violation of federal rules. Research indicates that driving that long without getting enough rest is like driving with a blood alcohol level of .08%, and that’s the legal limit in the United States.
Studies also show that driving while tired carries enormous risks – not only for truck drivers but also for the drivers and occupants of passenger cars. According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study, 13% of accidents involving commercial trucks can be blamed on exhausted drivers.
Why are Truck Drivers Often Fatigued?
The FMCSA conducted another study to find out why drivers continue to operate commercial trucks even though they’re too tired to do so safely. According to the study, one of the biggest reasons is that drivers often don’t have enough time to properly recover from their last shift before starting a new one. Also, they often have problems finding a place to pull over and rest.
But there are a lot of other factors that can lead to fatigued truck drivers as well, including the following:
- Irregular schedules – The irregular schedules of many truck drivers can make it challenging to get a consistent amount of sleep.
- Sleeping in the cab – Truck drivers often have to sleep in their cabs, which may not be as comfortable as a bed and can lead to poor sleep quality.
- Stress – Driving long distances and dealing with traffic can contribute to fatigue in truck drivers.
- Poor diet – A poor diet or lack of access to healthy food options on the road can also contribute to fatigue.
- Health conditions – Certain health conditions, such as sleep apnea, can also cause fatigue in truck drivers.
Types of Accidents Caused by Drowsy Driving
Fatigue can cause a variety of truck accidents that lead to catastrophic injuries. These include:
- Single-vehicle accidents – A fatigued truck driver may lose control of their vehicle and crash.
- Rear-end collisions – Fatigue can cause a truck driver to follow too closely or fail to brake in time.
- Lane departure accidents – A tired truck driver may drift out of their lane and into oncoming traffic.
- Head-on collisions – In severe cases, fatigue can cause a truck driver to cross into oncoming traffic and cause a head-on collision.
- Multi-vehicle pile-ups – Fatigue can lead to crashes involving multiple vehicles, such as pile-ups on the highway.
How to Prove a Truck Driver was Fatigued
If you’re going to get the compensation you deserve, you’re going to need solid evidence. Your attorney will investigate to gather that proof, and they’ll have several different options. Here are a few more common types of evidence that could strengthen your case.
- Eyewitness testimony – Eyewitnesses who observed the truck driver before or during the accident may be able to testify. They may be able to speak on how the driver appeared before the accident. For example, if they appeared to be drowsy or fatigued or not.
- Driver’s logbook – Federal regulations require truck drivers to maintain a logbook that records their hours. Your attorney can use the logbook to show if the driver worked excessive hours or had insufficient rest.
- Vehicle data recorder – Many trucks have a vehicle data recorder, also known as a “black box.” A black box can record information such as the truck’s speed, braking, and steering at the time of the accident. This data can help reconstruct the events leading up to the accident.
- Driver’s medical records – If the truck driver has a medical condition that could cause fatigue, such as sleep apnea, their medical records can show that they were fatigued at the time of the accident.
- Expert testimony – An expert witness, such as a sleep specialist, may be able to testify about the effects of fatigue on a person’s ability to drive safely.
Liability in a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident Case
Both the truck driver and the trucking company could be held liable for a truck accident caused by drowsy driving. The truck driver could be liable because they decided to get behind the wheel while tired. However, the trucking company may also be liable for overscheduling the driver or not allowing them to take proper breaks. In some cases, you may file your lawsuit against both parties. However, it’s more likely that only one party (the trucking company) will be held accountable for the accident.
Damages You Can Recover After a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident Injures You
Damages are the financial losses you’ve incurred due to your injury. Examples include:
- Medical expenses – You may be able to obtain compensation for all of your accident-related medical costs. These include physical therapy and medication costs, hospital bills, and others.
- Lost wages – If you can’t work because of your injury, you may be able to recover damages for the income you’ve lost – both now and in the future.
- Pain and suffering – You may be able to recover damages for the physical pain and emotional suffering.