The commercial trucking industry has become a crucial part of interstate commerce, so it’s not unusual to see semi-trucks on a regular basis. Unfortunately, aside from allowing for the transportation of mass amounts of goods, these trucks also pose a serious risk to other drivers. For this reason, the federal government requires trucking companies and their drivers to comply with certain rules regarding driving time, as well as cargo loading and maintenance procedures. While many trucking companies and their employees are careful to adhere to these rules, some do not, which can have devastating consequences for others on the road, so if you were involved in a collision with a commercial truck, it is critical to speak with an experienced truck accident attorney who can help you seek compensation for your losses.
What is Truck Driver Fatigue?
Driver fatigue causes an alarming number of collisions every year. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has even reported that as many as ten percent of all truck accidents are caused by truck driver fatigue, which is a term used to describe the point at which a driver’s reaction time becomes impaired as a result of exhaustion. Driver fatigue has a variety of causes, ranging from taking certain medications and consuming alcohol to specific kinds of medical conditions and a lack of sleep. However, the most common cause of driver fatigue is overwork.
To help ensure that truck drivers are not overextended, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits:
- Driving more than eleven out of every 14 hours;
- Starting a shift without having had at least ten consecutive hours off duty;
- Driving if the driver has been on duty for 70 hours in the last eight days; and
- Driving after working for more than 60 hours over a one week period.
Truck drivers are also required to take half hour breaks every eight hours.
Who is Liable?
Truck drivers who fall asleep at the wheel and cause accidents can be held liable for the lost wages, vehicle repair, and medical expenses incurred by injured parties. However, these are not the only individuals who can be held responsible, as the trucking company itself could be required to compensate victims if it forced its drivers to work too many hours or failed to supervise driving logs.
Proving that a driver’s fatigue was the cause of an accident is crucial, so injured parties will need to collect copies of the police report, evaluate the driver’s log books and in-vehicle technologies, and request copies of the driver’s medical examination reports. When there is evidence that a truck driver was clearly at fault, many trucking companies are willing to reach a settlement with the injured parties, although in some cases, the claim will need to be litigated in court.
Get the Legal Representation You Deserve
If you were involved in a truck accident that was caused by driver fatigue, you need the guidance of an experienced attorney. To speak with a truck accident lawyer about your own accident-related questions and concerns, please call the SAM LAW OFFICE LLC at 847-255-9925.