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Collecting Compensation for Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue

by onMay 23, 2017

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a total of 3,852 people died in large truck crashes in 2015 alone. It is also estimated that more than ten percent of the truck drivers who were involved in these crashes were fatigued at the time of the accident. Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), enacted a series of rules regarding hours of service to help cut down on truck accidents caused by driver fatigue, these types of crashes still occur at an alarming rate.

What is Fatigue?

Fatigue is a term used to describe the point at which exhaustion begins to impair a person’s reaction time and decision-making ability. While fatigue can be annoying in daily life, it can have deadly consequences for truck drivers, who operate trucks weighing upwards of 80,000 pounds. Truck accidents caused by driver fatigue also tend to occur at high speeds because the driver fails to react in time to brake or to swerve out of the way of an oncoming car. For these reasons, truck accident injuries tend to be particularly severe.

Fatigue has a number of causes, but the most common include:

  • Insufficient sleep;
  • Working long hours with inadequate breaks;
  • Health-related problems, such as sleep apnea;
  • Taking medications that cause drowsiness; and
  • Strenuous activity.

Federal Regulations

In an effort to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue, the FMCSA requires truck drivers to take regular breaks and prohibits them from:

  • Beginning a shift without having had at least ten consecutive hours off duty;
  • Driving if they have been on duty for more than 60 hours over the last seven days;
  • Driving if they have been on duty for 70 or more hours in the last eight days; and
  • Driving more than 11 out of every 14 hours.

Finally, truck drivers are also required to take at least a 30 minute break every eight hours. Drivers who violate these rules and cause an accident can be held liable for resulting injuries. However, in order to collect compensation from the negligent party, a plaintiff must have evidence that the other driver’s fatigue was the cause of the accident. Fortunately, truck drivers are required to keep certain records when driving, which can help establish how long they had been driving prior to the crash. The injured party may need to collect additional evidence, including:

  • The police report;
  • The results of a commercial motor vehicle examination;
  • The driver’s log books;
  • Data recorded on in-vehicle technologies; and
  • Medical records.

This type of evidence can go a long way towards helping an injured party collect compensation for medical expenses and lost wages from the driver and possibly the truck company itself.

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you were recently injured in a truck accident and have reason to believe that the other driver was fatigued at the time of the crash, please contact Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC by calling 419-241-5500 today to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated truck accident attorney who can explain your legal options.  

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