Fatigue is one of the most common yet preventable causes of truck accidents. Truck drivers frequently drive while overly fatigued due to long work hours. Additionally, trucking companies may pressure drivers to complete jobs too quickly. These and other factors can take a toll on a truck driver’s alertness, increasing the possibility of a fatigued truck driver accident.
If a drowsy truck driver has injured you or your loved one, you may have a right to pursue compensation for your medical expenses, property damage, and other damages. The attorneys at Saeedian Law Group are highly experienced in litigating commercial truck accidents, including those caused by fatigued truck drivers. Contact the Los Angeles fatigued truck driver accident attorneys at Saeedian Law Group to schedule a free case evaluation.
Why Is Truck Driver Fatigue So Dangerous?
When truck drivers are fatigued, delayed reaction time and higher speeds can cause severe collisions. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 13 percent of all commercial motor vehicle drivers involved in truck accidents were considered to have been fatigued at the time of the accident. Truck driver fatigue can be caused by inadequate sleep, strenuous work or non-work activities, and extended work hours. It only takes a few seconds of a driver nodding off for the truck to swerve into another traffic lane and cause a serious accident.
Operating any vehicle when fatigued or overtime can be hazardous. However, truck driver fatigue is particularly dangerous due to commercial vehicles’ large and heavy weight. Fatigue negatively affects cognitive abilities that are necessary for operating a vehicle safely.
A fatigued truck driver can have a lower attention span, reaction time, vigilance, and information processing ability. Drivers experiencing this level of exhaustion may be unaware of the dangers of fatigued driving. In other cases, they are aware of the dangers but wrongly believe they can avoid them by forcing themselves to stay alert.
Hours of Service Regulations
The FMCSA and the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) have implemented hours of service regulations to mitigate truck driver fatigue. These regulations dictate how many hours truck drivers can drive daily. They also require truck drivers to take breaks in between shifts. Specifically, when a truck driver begins a shift, he or she has 14 hours to complete their assigned task. During the slotted 14 hours, three hours must be spent doing something other than driving the truck.
Additionally, during any period of approximately one week, the driver cannot operate the truck if he or she has been on duty for 60 or 70 hours.
Truckers must also have FMCSA-compliant Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) that log when the truck stops and can help prove whether the driver complies with these rules. If a truck driver has injured you and you suspect they were fatigued, the ELD may be able to help you prove the driver violated hours of service regulation, resulting in fatigue. Some truck drivers have entered misleading or incorrect information related to hours of service regulations. Working with a skilled attorney can help you thoroughly invest the driver’s records and find any evidence of falsification of records.
Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Case
Before you can recover compensation after a truck accident, you’ll need to prove who is to blame for the truck accident. The truck driver is liable for your damages when his or her negligence caused the accident that resulted in your injuries. Negligence occurs when the truck driver breaches the duty of reasonable care he or she owes everyone else on the road. Every driver owes a duty of care to everyone else on the road. When the truck driver was driving at the time of the accident, he owed you a duty of care. Proving a breach of the truck driver’s duty of care can be challenging. Driving while overly tired can be difficult.
The attorneys at Saeedian Law Group can help you gather evidence that the truck driver was fatigued. For example, there may be witness testimony that the driver was drifting in and out of lanes before the accident. Your attorney may be able to obtain a copy of the truck’s black box data, including the driver’s log. This information could be used to show that the driver violated his or her hours of service regulations for commercial drivers. Some of the factors our investigators will look at include the following:
- Driving late at night
- Driving during the afternoon when circadian rhythms peak
- There is no evidence the truck driver tried to avoid the collision
- The accident occurred on a highway with a speed limit of at least 55 miles-per-hour
Damages Available in a Fatigued Truck Driver Accident
When a truck driver’s fatigue causes your injuries, you can pursue a civil claim against the driver. In addition to the truck driver, others might also share liability, including the truck driver’s employer. There are two main types of damages victims can pursue from liable truck drivers: economic and non-economic. Economic damages include medical expenses, surgeries, follow-up appointments, over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, medical equipment, and ambulatory aids. Therapies, wages, and death-related expenses are also considered economic damages. Non-economic damages include the following type of damages:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer enjoy a physical relationship with your spouse
- Loss of the use of a body party, such as an arm or foot
- Loss of a bodily function
- Extra compensation for scarring or disfigurement
Discuss Your Case with a Skilled Attorney
At Saeedian Law Group, our legal team is dedicated to protecting the rights of injured truck accident victims. We have a proven track record of obtaining significant compensation for victims of commercial accidents. No matter the complexity or severity of your injuries, we are prepared to advocate for you. Contact Saeedian Law Group to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation case evaluation and learn more about how we can help you.