Truck driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. Truck drivers spend significant time on the road, and a lack of sleep can cause truck drivers to engage in dangerous behavior. A lack of sleep can result in a fatigued truck driver drifting out of their lane, running off the roadway, accelerating to dangerous speeds, or missing signals.
You may be entitled to compensation if you or your loved one has been injured in a truck accident. The Houston personal injury attorneys at Ceja Law Firm PLLC understand that fatigue truck driver accidents can have a catastrophic impact on you and your family. We are dedicated to fighting for accident victims to recover the total and fair amount of compensation they need and deserve. Contact Ceja Law Firm PLLC today to schedule a complimentary case evaluation and learn more about how we can advocate for you.
How Common Are Fatigued Truck Driver Accidents?
Truck driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study, truck driver fatigue contributed to approximately 13 percent of commercial truck drivers. Truck driver fatigue can be caused by lengthy work hours without breaks, inadequate sleep, and physical or mental exertion that harms performance. Unfortunately, these contributing factors happen far too often. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 6,000 people die yearly from fatigued truck accidents in the United States.
The Deadly Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue
When a truck driver is fatigued, the fatigue will diminish functions that truck drivers must have to perform effectively, including reaction time, coordination, vision, and judgment. Drivers may veer onto highway traffic if they fall asleep at the wheel, causing a devastating head-on collision. A dangerous multi-vehicle collision can occur when commercial trucks collide with another driver on the highway. Fatigued drivers are more likely to fail to engage in safe driving practices like checking a blind spot before changing lanes.
Blind spots are frequently troublesome for commercial truckers. When drivers are tired and don’t check them, a side-swipe collision may occur. Sleep deprivation and driver fatigue symptoms are similar to the symptoms often seen in drivers under the influence of alcohol. Twenty-four hours of sleep deprivation causes a truck driver to be similarly impaired to someone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10 percent, which is well over the legal limit for driving under the influence.
Hours of Service Regulations Truck Drivers Must Follow
Due to the significant dangers of fatigued truck driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires drivers of large commercial vehicles to comply with specific hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. Commercial drivers of 18-wheel trucks must follow these regulations, which include the following:
- The driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours during 14 hours after ten consecutive hours off-duty
- A truck driver may not drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty, following ten consecutive hours off duty. The off-duty time doesn’t extend the 14-hour period
Unfortunately, truck drivers don’t always comply with these regulations. Drivers may be paid by the mile or the number of deliveries they complete each week. Drivers may try to stay awake longer to meet these nearly impossible delivery schedules while pushing through fatigue.
Drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles in a safe manner, which includes getting enough sleep to avoid driving while fatigued. When drivers do not operate a truck using reasonable care, they have breached the duty of care they owe to everyone else on the road. If they’re fatigued, driving may cause an innocent victim to become injured. The victim has a right to hold them financially liable for their injuries. To recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove liability.
Determining which party or parties are at fault for your injuries is the first step in proving liability. If a truck driver caused an accident because of fatigue, you may be able to hold the truck driver liable. However, there may be other parties who are also liable. For example, if the trucking company that hired the trucker pressured the employee to stay awake and avoid taking required breaks to sleep, you may also sue the employer.
Additionally, truck accidents can have multiple causes. The fatigued truck driver may have contributed to the accident, but there may have been another third party who also caused the accident. For example, suppose the mechanics used by the trucking company engaged in negligent work, making steering and braking difficult. In that case, the victim may be able to pursue compensation from them as well. Defective equipment can also contribute to truck accidents as can road conditions.
The Benefits of Working with a Skilled Attorney
Recovering after being injured in a truck accident can be extremely difficult. Many trucking companies carry commercial insurance policies. Insurance providers may send out investigators to investigate the truck accident soon after the accident occurs. They also have their own attorneys who fight to avoid paying compensation to truck accident victims. Hiring an aggressive personal injury attorney can help you level the playing field when pursuing compensation against a trucking company or its insurance provider. Attorney Jose Ceja has extensive experience negotiating with insurance companies and defendants to pursue the total and fair compensation his clients need and deserve.
When you work with him, he will help you evaluate your case and determine the amount that reflects your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. Once he’s determined the value of your case, he’ll begin aggressively pursuing the best outcome possible.
Schedule a Complimentary Case Evaluation
At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand how devastating it can be for victims of truck accidents to move forward, especially when they have suffered catastrophic injuries. If you or your loved one have been injured by a fatigued truck driver, we are here to help. Contact Ceja Law Firm PLLC today to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.