Truck Driver Fatigue And How It Can Effect Your Case

Accidents involving large commercial trucks often result in severe injuries for those involved. This is particularly true for those riding and traditional passenger vehicles struck by these large trucks. A leading cause of large commercial truck accidents is fatigued driving.

All commercial truck drivers must abide by federal hours of service requirements, but these requirements do not prevent every fatigued driving accident. At Larry R. Williams, PLLC, our Tennessee commercial truck accident attorneys want to discuss how fatigued driving crashes occur and how this could affect your injury case.

How fatigued driving causes commercial truck crashes in Tennessee

Drowsy driving is something that can affect everybody, whether they operate large commercial vehicles or traditional passenger vehicles. The most common causes of fatigue driving for those who operate traditional passenger vehicles also cause fatigued commercial vehicle drivers.

However, the very nature of a truck driver’s job exasperates the common causes of fatigued driving, which can include:

  • Erratic sleep schedule
  • Poor sleep or a lack of sleep
  • Monotonous tasks
  • Improper use of medications
  • Violation of hours of service guidelines

Driving while fatigued is dangerous because it significantly slows the reaction times of the vehicle operator. A fatigued commercial truck driver may fail to notice changing roadway conditions or the actions of other drivers around them. A fatigued driver could even fall asleep behind the wheel. Even a lapse of only a few seconds could lead to a significant accident if a large truck collides with other vehicles on the roadway.

What are the hours of service requirements for commercial truck drivers?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the US Department of Transportation, is responsible for implementing hours of service requirements for all commercial truck drivers in the country. This agency regulates how many hours a truck driver may operate each workday as well as how many hours they can operate in a total workweek.

In general, the hours of service requirements are as follows:

  • Drivers are allowed to operate for a 14-hour driving window after being off duty for ten consecutive hours. During this 14-hour window, the driver is allowed eleven total driving hours. Other times will include breaks for naps, meal breaks, and restroom breaks.
  • Drivers are required to take a 30-minute break if they have been driving for more than eight consecutive hours.
  • During a seven-day workweek, a driver is allowed to operate for 60 hours. During an eight-day workweek, a driver is allowed to operate for 70 hours.

Proving hours of service violation in a truck accident case

Truck accident victims will have to prove liability for the case in order to recover compensation. If a victim suspects that a crash was caused by a fatigued truck driver, they will need to provide various pieces of evidence in order to prove their claim. It is strongly recommended that any commercial truck crash victim works with an attorney who can help them through this process. An attorney can use their resources to thoroughly investigate the incident and gathered the following types of evidence:

  • Photo or video surveillance of the incident
  • Statements from any eyewitnesses in
  • The commercial truck “black box” data
  • Data from the electronic logging device
  • Truck company records
  • Truck driver safety history
  • The police report
  • Cell data, including call and text logs
  • Weigh station receipts

Gathering this data can become complicated. This may require a Tennessee truck accident lawyer to work through the court system to obtain appropriate subpoenas in order to uncover the evidence necessary to prove that a driver was fatigued while behind the wheel of a commercial truck

Who is liable if a fatigued truck driver causes a crash?

There may be various parties that can be held liable after a truck crash caused by a fatigued driver. This can include the truck driver as well as the company that they work for. Drivers can be held liable if they willfully violate regulations set forth to ensure safety or if they engage in negligent behavior behind the wheel.

A trucking company could be held vicariously liable for the actions of their driver. If the truck driver is an employee of the company, then the truck company will likely be liable for any actions the truck driver took that called harm to others while they were on duty.

Additionally, an attorney may be able to uncover evidence that the trucking company contributed to the driver’s fatigue. For example, if the trucking company encouraged a driver to violate hours of service regulations in order to ensure timely delivery, this could show grossly negligent actions on the part of the company.

What kind of compensation is available for a fatigued truck driver accident?

There may be various types of compensation available for victims injured due to the actions of a fatigued truck driver. While there is no set amount of money awarded to victims in these situations, it is not uncommon for our attorneys to help clients recover both economic and non-economic compensation following a crash. This can include the following:

  • Coverage of all medical bills related to the crash
  • Lost income if a victim cannot work while they recover
  • General household out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Loss of quality of life damages
  • Possible punitive damages against a grossly negligent truck driver or trucking company

A Tennessee truck accident lawyer will work with trusted medical and economic experts in order to properly calculate the total expected losses for the victim.

Contact a Tennessee truck accident lawyer today

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to an accident caused by a fatigued commercial truck driver, seek assistance from an attorney as soon as possible. At Larry R. Williams, PLLC, we are standing by to help when you need a Tennessee truck accident lawyer by your side. Our attorneys have the resources and experience necessary to thoroughly investigate your claim, determine liability, and secure full compensation for your losses. You can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or calling us at 615-237-8619.