When truck drivers are exhausted from long hauls without sufficient rest, they can make mistakes and even fall asleep at the wheel, causing catastrophic and sometimes deadly accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that commercial truck and bus drivers are among those most likely to suffer sleep deprivation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces hours of service (HOS) regulations that limit driving time to insure adequate rest. When fatigue due to a driver’s failure to follow HOS rules is the cause of an accident, the driver, the trucking company, and other related parties may be liable for the resulting property damage, bodily injury, or death.
Truck driver fatigue can be caused by other factors, such as:
- an undisclosed sleep disorder
- use of sleep-inducing medications
- consumption of alcohol shortly before or while driving
- a trucking company’s imposition of unreasonable delivery schedules
- a trucking company’s failure to adequately train a driver about HOS regulations
Any of these could make the driver and/or the trucking company liable for the injuries or deaths they caused.
A skilled truck accident lawyer uses several techniques to show how a truck driver became fatigued or sleepy. The first step is acting quickly to secure the truck’s event data recorder (sometimes called the “black box”) that logs information about the vehicle’s operations. It can show that a driver traveled for longer stretches of time and with less rest time than the HOS rules allow.
Trucks manufactured before the year 2000 are less likely to contain event data recorders. Instead, drivers of older trucks must keep paper logs of their trips. Because drivers in violation of HOS rules may falsify logs, experienced attorneys use multiple approaches to prove driver fatigue was a factor in truck accident. These include:
- estimating the time required to complete the driver’s itinerary with mandatory rest stops and determining if the truck was ahead of schedule
- obtaining driver’s medical and police records to determine whether any medications or conditions could have contributed to drowsiness or whether drugs or alcohol might have been involved
- reviewing surveillance footage from toll collection booths, truck stops and other cameras along the route
If you were injured or a family member was killed in a semi-truck accident, a knowledgeable advocate can determine whether driver fatigue may have caused the crash and represent you in your fight to obtain the compensation you deserve.
At Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC in Bridgeport, West Virginia, our attorneys are skilled at obtaining the evidence necessary to prove the liability of truck drivers and companies for accidents resulting in serious injury or death. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers, call us at 304-842-4300 or contact us online.