Fatigued driving is a common cause of car accidents involving commercial truck drivers. Federal laws place limits on how much a truck driver can drive in one day in hopes of reducing the risk of accidents. However, that does not always stop drivers from working beyond those limits for a variety of reasons.
This can lead to a dangerous situation for the truck driver and anyone sharing the road. And because accidents involving trucks often lead to catastrophic or even fatal injuries, you may find yourself facing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. Below, we detail truck carrier liability for a truck accident caused by a fatigued truck driver and how you can obtain the compensation you need.
Liability for an Accident Caused By a Fatigued Truck Driver
Determining liability and fault is a primary aim of an injury claim. Typically, determining who you can file a claim against is straightforward in car accidents. If someone caused an accident while fatigued, you can simply file a claim against that person’s auto insurance company.
But accidents involving commercial vehicles are not quite as simple. In many cases, the trucking company will be liable for the accident. This is true even if the truck driver was the sole responsible party in the accident. This is because of vicarious liability laws that hold an employer liable for the actions of its employees.
The accident for which we want to hold the truck carrier liable cannot occur in just any circumstances. Rather, the employee must have been fulfilling requirements related to their job. So, if a driver was delivering a package and fell asleep at the wheel, the trucking company would be liable for any injuries the driver caused.
FMCSA Regulations Against Fatigued Driving
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits how many hours a truck driver can operate their rig. Some of these regulations include:
- Truck drivers may drive 11 hours a day and only after 10 consecutive hours off.
- Truck drivers may only remain on-duty for 14 hours.
Direct Negligence in Fatigued Truck Accidents
There are several reasons why truck drivers disobey FMCSA regulations. In many cases, they want to finish their deliveries early to make more money. However, this is not always the case. In some other cases, trucking companies will pressure or force their drivers to operate their trucks beyond the legally allowed limits.
If this is the case, the trucking company can be directly liable for any injuries that occur.
Proving the Truck Driver Was Fatigued At the Time of the Accident
To recover compensation for your accident, we must establish the driver was fatigued at the time of the crash. The evidence we might gather includes:
- The driver’s hours of service logs (This will allow us to determine exactly how long the driver had been on the road.)
- Data from the truck’s event data recorder (This can also help us prove how long the driver had been on the road.)
- Eyewitness testimony (Someone may have witnessed the driver yawning, rubbing their eyes, or even falling asleep at the wheel directly before the collision.)
- The police report (The police officers on scene may have noted that the driver seemed fatigued after the collision.)
- Surveillance video (Surveillance video may show the driver driving erratically before the accident.)
- Photos of the accident scene (We will examine any photos of the accident scene for anything that might prove the driver was fatigued. For example, if the scene lacks tire marks, we can argue that the driver was asleep and did not attempt to stop his vehicle to avoid the collision.)
While we can gather some of this evidence without dealing with the carrier, much of this evidence (such as the hours of service logs and the data from the truck) is in the hands of the trucking company. To ensure the preservation of that evidence, we will send a letter of spoliation demanding that the carrier preserve and hand over any evidence we request.
Call an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss Your Case Today
Accidents happen for a variety of reasons. But being involved in an accident that was preventable is something that is hard for anyone to swallow. If you or someone you care about was involved in a truck accident you believe fatigue contributed to, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law to discuss your case with an Atlanta truck accident lawyer.Our team will thoroughly examine the circumstances of your case in hopes of getting the compensation you deserve. Call us at 404-842-7838. Our injury lawyer works on a contingency basis, which means we recover nothing unless you win your case.