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Truck Driver Fatigue: Liability & Damages in Crashes

Were you involved in an accident involving truck driver fatigue, leaving you with severe injuries? Did the accident claim the life of a loved one? Do you want to hold the fatigued truck driver financially accountable for their negligence?

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys represent injured truck accident victims and surviving close relatives who lost a loved one in a preventable accident. We help them recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress.

Call our truck accident law office in Chicago, Illinois, at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation.

Driver Fatigue Car Accidents

Fatigued Truck Drivers

Out of all crashes involving a truck driver's mistake, a staggering thirteen percent of accidents are due to truck driver fatigue. As a result, falling asleep at the wheel has become a significant problem in an industry where many truckers feel the pinch of working very long hours.

Unfortunately, truck drivers are under pressure to drive extra hours and skip mandatory off-duty time due to low wages and a system that puts a premium on productivity over safety. One of every four commercial truck drivers claims that they have fallen asleep while driving at least once in the prior month.

In addition, this behavior puts other drivers and passengers at serious risk for involvement in jackknife crashes and other different types of dangerous truck accidents.

Here are some conditions that are contributing factors to severe accidents:

  • Drowsy driving
  • Fatigued driving (too little sleep)
  • Falling asleep at the wheel
  • Exhaustion from physical or mental exertion
  • Driver drowsiness
  • Drunk driving (blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher)
  • Unclear road construction signs
  • Improper loading
  • Failing to stop on time when approaching traffic jams

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) analysis shows many truck accidents occur due to fatigue while driving long hauls without rest and way past the service regulations amount of hours.

The state's regulator stipulates that a truck driver resumes an eleven-hour shift after a ten-hour break. However, some drivers violate this rule and work long hours on the road.

Fatigue Management for Truckers

Hauling freight is a heavy responsibility that requires highly skilled truckers. Research shows they have better miles-per-gallon performance than their counterparts by 35%. But all drivers deal with driver fatigue, impacting the company's bottom line and customer experience.

Truckers play an integral role in transporting cargo across the country - which is why safety should always be a top priority during any trip or time spent behind the wheel. Understanding familiar symptoms of sleep deprivation will facilitate safe driving on the road and knowing when to stop to avoid an accident:

  • A tired driver also may forget to check blind spots.
  • Trucker fatigue leads to poor decision-making and makes you experience "tunnel vision."
  • A truck driver who stays awake for more than 24 hours suffers a similar impairment to their driving as a driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.10. It is well above the 0.04 legal limit for truck drivers.
  • If all else fails and the trucker hasn't woken up or hasn’t stopped their drowsy driving behavior, pull over and call 911.
  • If you suspect someone is operating their truck while high or intoxicated, stop driving and call 911.
  • If the driver exhibits drowsy driving behaviors, pull up behind them and turn on your hazard lights to ensure they're fully awake. If it's dark outside, flash your headlights a few times to gain their attention.
  • You'll be required to get behind-the-wheel training before your driver's license will be restored or reissued after a suspension for a moving violation.

Holding the Trucker's Truck Company Financially Accountable

Fatigued truck drivers put everyone at risk when they drive drowsy, but it doesn't always mean they're the only ones responsible for the mistake.

Nearly all trucking accidents result from a trucker's negligence from not getting enough sleep, compromising their driving habits. However, additional third-party defendants may be involved in a trucking accident. A truck accident attorney might prove that there are other responsible parties liable for the crash, such as:

  • The trucking company
  • Truck manufacturer
  • Tire supplier
  • Component manufacturer
  • Road maintenance crews

Potential third-party claims might include additional damages caused by:

  • Inadequate maintenance
  • Defective equipment
  • Failure to keep truckers on regular schedules
  • Tight schedules involving working longer hours, leading to inadequate sleep and disregarding traffic patterns or construction delays
  • Defective braking and steering systems cause the vehicle to travel into oncoming traffic

Many trucking companies will attempt to evade responsibility for their trucker's fatigued driving, leading to a catastrophic accident by blaming the injured victim.

Hiring a Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Injury Attorney

Were you involved in a truck accident occurred due to driver's fatigue? If so, get in touch with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. The accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help investigate your case and whether a trucking company has had issues with fatigued commercial drivers in the past.

There are new federal transportation regulations to combat driver fatigue. A personal injury attorney can use these regulatory rules to your advantage when handling your drowsy driver case.

The newly tightened service regulations address concerns that many truck crashes from drowsy drivers are preventable with better time management and a regular sleep pattern. However, even with these new regulations, driving motor vehicles safely remains a severe problem on the nation's highways.

Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free) for a free consultation to discuss your compensation claim.

Federal Regulations to Combat Truck Driver Fatigue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put forth new regulations to improve safety on the road. The regulatory controls cut down on driver fatigue, stating that truck drivers may only work a maximum of seventy hours weekly.

Also, truck drivers must take thirty-four-hour rest breaks after driving for seventy hours over seven days. The rest break also requires that truck drivers rest during periods in which the body lacks sleep. These hours are from 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM for most truckers to avoid periods when they might be naturally drowsy.

The regulations mandate that truck drivers take a thirty-minute break within an eight-hour shift. These break periods help drivers regain their strength, focus, and energy for safe driving.

Penalties for Failure to Abide by Regulations Related to Mandatory Rest

If a company fails to abide by these new regulations, there can be severe penalties. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has stated that it will impose maximum penalties on drivers and businesses that fail to abide by these rules.

Drivers who violate the regulations for more than three hours could face harsh fines of $2,750 for each offense. Also, trucking companies can potentially face severe penalties of $11,000 for each violation.

Those interested in learning more about the penalties can read through the "Hours of Service Logbook Examples" handbook available through the website of the FMCSA.

Truckers face harsh penalties for an accident caused by truck driver fatigue. In addition, the driver and trucking company can be held financially accountable.

Truck Drivers' Fatigue Accident FAQs

Our injury law firm understands that many families have unanswered questions about dealing directly with the insurance company when seeking compensation for accidents involving large trucks and other commercial vehicles. A truck accident attorney answered some of those questions below.

Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for additional information and legal advice.

What Causes Fatigue When Driving?

Fatigue, drowsy driving, or sleepiness are all signs that the driver likely has not gotten adequate sleep and has traveled beyond their legal driving limit. However, the driver might also be fatigued due to medication, alcohol consumption, sleep apnea, shift work, or untreated sleep disorder.

Truckers and passenger vehicle drivers drive for long hours resulting in fatigue while driving during their typical sleep time. However, for most drivers, the common symptoms associated with fatigue are challenging to identify, especially during long work hours.

What Are the Signs of Driver Fatigue?

The common signs and symptoms associated with fatigue include heavy or sore eyes, impatience, yawning, slow reaction time, cramps, impaired driving, neck stiffness, and driving at fluctuating speeds.

A tired driver can easily make an error of judgment. As a result, truck accidents arising from drowsy driving make it challenging to avoid.

What Percentage of Nighttime Commercial Truck Accidents Are Fatigue-Related?

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveal that fatigued drivers represent about thirteen percent of all accidents with severe injuries. However, fatigue is not always the contributing factor in causing the accident.

Is Turning the Radio Up a Sign of Fatigue?

Many drivers and long-haul truckers heading out on the road are only aware of their tiredness or sleepiness once they are well underway.

However, drowsiness is a common sign of fatigue that should not go unnoticed. Truck driver fatigue contributes to nearly 4 out of every ten big rig crashes. Tiredness can happen at any time of the day or night, no matter how many hours the truck driver has been driving.

Is Blurred Vision a Sign of Fatigue?

Blurry vision is often a sign of fatigue, especially if the driver has a refractive error, including astigmatism or long- short-sightedness.

However, vision can instantly blur when the eyes are tired during nighttime, twilight, and dawn. Therefore, tired truck drivers with blurry vision should safely pull off the road and rest until their full vision is ok.

What Happens If a CDL Driver Gets in an Accident?

After the crash, the trucking company insurance carrier and local law enforcement will determine who was at fault. If  the truck driver is liable entirely or partially responsible for the serious damage they caused. In that case, the police will likely issue a ticket or citation.

Fatigued truck drivers involved in accidents must undergo alcohol and drug testing to ascertain if they are above the legal limit. If no drugs or alcohol is present in the trucker's blood system, they would likely keep their jobs.

By federal law, the investigators must review the trucker's hours of service (HOS) behind the wheel, time asleep, break times, and other information to identify any regulation violations. In addition, the hours-of-service regulations mandate that commercial truck drivers must document how long they have been operating their vehicle in the driver's log.

Often, tired truckers fall asleep behind the wheel, trying to meet unreasonable deadlines in delivering cargo on a tight schedule. However, driving too many hours beyond federal limits violates federal rules, leading to extensive monetary penalties.

Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer for Help Today with Your Accident Case

If you have suffered serious injuries from an accident involving a fatigued driver, we can help with your case. Our truck accident lawyers are ready to assist you in whatever way they can to ensure you are compensated for your hospitalization costs, medical bills, lost wages, future lost earnings, pain, and suffering.

Contact us at (888) 424-5757 to discuss you or your loved one's legal options in obtaining monetary compensation for your injuries.

We accept all injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This agreement ensures that our clients do not pay until the legal matter is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury verdict.

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