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12/14/22   |   By

Truck Driver Fatigue and Truck Accidents

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Have you or your loved one been injured in an accident caused by truck driver fatigue? If so, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages.

Truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for ensuring that their vehicles are operated safely. This means making sure that vehicles are in working order and that truck drivers are not overworked.

Weighing significantly more than passenger vehicles, when a truck is involved in an accident the results are often catastrophic. A drowsy driving accident can result in serious injuries such as amputation, paralysis, or wrongful death.

If a truck accident has left you physically and financially suffering, you should consult with the personal injury lawyers at Regan Zambri Long. Our truck accident team is experienced with truck driver fatigue accidents and we can help hold the liable party or parties accountable for their negligent behavior. Schedule your free consultation today online or by calling 202-960-4596.

How Truck Driver Fatigue Causes Accidents

A fatigued truck driver is at risk for causing accidents in some of the same ways that drugs and alcohol cause impairment. Fatigue can cause a truck driver to nod off, react or respond slowly, make poor decisions, drift across lanes of traffic, and lose a sense of what is going on on the road around them. Additionally, fatigue can lead to zoning out while driving, and not being conscious and aware of the miles being driven.

After 17 consecutive hours, awake drivers can experience impairment equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration level of .05, while 24 hours awake is equivalent to a level of .10, according to the CDC.

What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?

Fatigue can be caused by many different things, but the CDC recognizes some of the most common causes include being awake for many consecutive hours, inadequate sleep over multiple days, monotonous tasks or long periods of inactivity, and health factors including sleep disorders and various medications. Additionally, drivers may experience more fatigue if they don’t pay attention to the body’s sleep and wake cycles that trigger alertness and sleepiness.

A joint study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2007 found that at least 13 percent of fatal truck accidents involved fatigued truck drivers. That percentage has likely grown in the years since the study was published.

How To Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue

The best way to combat truck driver fatigue is to get enough quality sleep. Caffeine, sugar, adrenaline, or any other stimulant are temporary measures at best, and ones that don’t promote safe driving practices.
FMCSA provides the following tips to fight drowsy driving:

  • Get enough sleep before driving
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Take a nap if you feel drowsy
  • Know if any of your medications may cause drowsiness and avoid taking them before driving
  • Recognize the signs and dangers of drowsiness
  • Don’t turn to “alertness tricks” to stay awake

Smoking, loud music, and opening the window are a few of the tricks some truck drivers may use to fight fatigue, but they aren’t effective to keep fatigue and drowsiness at bay for long. The FMCSA says that short naps are more effective than drinking coffee for restoring energy levels. Even a 10-minute nap may help effectively keep fatigue at bay. Drivers should also allow at least 15 minutes to wake up before getting behind the wheel.

Common Injuries from Truck Driver Fatigue Accidents

Person in wheelchair Because trucks are generally bigger and heavier than other vehicles on the road, the chances of an accident being catastrophic are higher. When you are involved in such an accident, you may suffer severe injuries or permanent disability. Some of the most common injuries from truck accidents include:

Immediately following your accident you will want to seek medical attention for your injuries. Your injuries may take time to fully manifest, and it’s best to have early medical care to monitor and to create a record in case you do discover an injury from your accident later on.

Your next step after medical care should be consulting with an experienced truck accident attorney to determine the value of your case and your legal options for recovering compensation.

Claiming Damages

After a fatigued driving accident, you could claim both economic and non-economic damages. These are payments to help pay for financial losses and to act as restitution for other, non-quantifiable losses.

Economic damages include: current and future medical bills, lost wages and lost earning capacity, property damage, and other bills related to your accident.

Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost or diminished enjoyment.

What Kinds of Trucks Cause Fatigued Driving Accidents?

Any driver can be at risk for a fatigue-related accident. Even some passenger vehicle accidents are caused by driver fatigue. However, when the fatigued driver is operating a large truck, the injuries and damages caused by the crash are more likely to be devastating.

Often 18-wheelers and big rigs are what first come to mind when thinking of driver fatigue truck accidents. Short deadlines for long routes can lead to drivers compromising on the rules and requirements for rest breaks, leading to increased fatigue.

But any kind of truck can cause serious damage when mishandled. Dump trucks, tractor-trailers, tow trucks, and construction trucks all tend to be heavy vehicles that require more reaction time and distance to stop. The weight also means that when a large truck crashes into another, smaller vehicle, the force of the collision is magnified.

Who is Liable for Truck Driver Fatigue Accidents?

Truck Crashing into Passenger CarLiability for a truck crash caused by driver fatigue is not always as simple as blaming the person behind the wheel. While truck drivers certainly have a duty to pull over and rest, especially if they experience fatigue levels that impair performance, trucking companies can also be liable in the case of an accident.

If a trucking company sends drivers out on routes that are too long or provides unreasonable deadlines that don’t accommodate drivers’ need for rest, the company is creating an environment wherein truck driver fatigue is unavoidable. This is negligence (and sometimes breaking the law) on the part of the trucking company, and they can be held accountable for the accidents their scheduling causes.

Truck drivers themselves can also be held liable for their fatigue-related accidents. Federal regulations created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allow property-carrying truck drivers to drive no more than 11 hours after a 10-consecutive-hour break. A driver also may not exceed 60 working hours in a seven-day period. Unfortunately, it is common for truck drivers to violate some of these regulations, creating driver fatigue for themselves and danger for others. When this causes an accident, you can hold the driver responsible for his or her negligent behavior.

Why Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer?

Regan Zambri Long lawyers seated at tableIn the aftermath of a truck accident, compensation will be handled by the insurance company that represents the trucking company and driver. In many cases, the insurance company will be looking to pay as little as possible, even less than is necessary to cover property damage and/or medical bills.

When you hire an experienced truck driver fatigue lawyer from Regan Zambri Long, you increase your chances of getting satisfactory compensation from the liable party. Fatigue-related accidents are rooted in negligence, which means the driver and/or company neglected to fulfill the duty of care entrusted to them, thereby causing the accident and your injuries. When you are involved in such an accident, you need to be able to focus on getting the medical attention you need to begin recovering from your injuries. The truck accident attorneys at Regan Zambri Long will take on the legal burden of your case, pursuing justice so that you can pursue healing. Our lawyers will meet with you for a free consultation to review the facts of your case and your options for moving forward.

Statute of Limitations

Another reason to make sure you have a qualified lawyer in your camp is to ensure you don’t miss the statute of limitations for your truck accident. Washington, DC, and Maryland give you three years to file a personal injury claim while Virginia allows two years to file.

An experienced lawyer will help you determine the right time to file your claim while still keeping within the provided window. Often it is in your best interest to reach the fullest point of recovery possible before filing a claim so that the compensation you receive is able to cover your future medical expenses or lost wages.

Negligence

Most personal injury cases hinge on the legal idea of negligence: that the liable party had a duty of care to behave in a certain way, that the duty of care was breached, that the breach caused an accident and that the victim was injured in the accident. While negligence may seem straightforward and easy to prove, it is rarely a smooth process. Your attorney will conduct an independent investigation to prove the negligence of the other party, but the liable party will be doing the same thing in an attempt to pin some negligence on you.

In some states, such as Washington, DC, comparative negligence laws will allow you to collect compensation in proportion to the amount of liability you carry for an accident. So if you are liable for 10 percent of the fault, you can claim 90 percent of the value of your case.

Other states, however, including Virginia and Maryland, have contributory negligence laws, which completely bar a person from claiming compensation if they carry any percent of liability or fault for the accident. This makes it imperative that you hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible after experiencing an accident so that you do not miss out on the compensation you deserve.

Regan Zambri Long: Experienced Trucker Fatigue Accident Attorneys

personal injury lawyers chris regan and pat reganThe personal injury lawyers at Regan Zambri Long have taken on many trucking fatigue cases over their decades of legal practice and they are ready to take on your case and fight until you receive justice. They have recovered millions of dollars for personal injury victims, including a $3 million settlement for a woman who suffered an amputation after being struck by a truck while crossing the street.

Our personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t collect any legal fees until we recover compensation on your behalf. We have offices in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, with experienced lawyers who know the laws for each jurisdiction. When you trust your case to the truck accident attorneys at Regan Zambri Long, you can rest assured that we will fight to win you justice and the financial compensation you are owed. You can schedule a free case evaluation online or by calling 202-960-4596.

Regan Zambri Long
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