Most drivers have felt a measure of fatigue while driving at some point in their lives. In fact, falling asleep behind the wheel is more common than you might think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel within a span of just 30 days.
While it can be very dangerous for the driver of a car to fall asleep behind the wheel, the results can be deadly when a commercial truck driver does. Due to their immense size and weight, commercial trucks tend to leave collision victims with catastrophic injuries. And it is all too common for truck drivers to drive while fatigued, usually because they have tight schedules to keep.
If you or your loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, and you suspect that driver fatigue was the cause, call Cellino Law at (800) 555-5555 to speak to a truck accident lawyer with our law firm. We can have highly experienced attorneys around the country review your case and pursue responsible parties for compensation. Better yet, your initial consultation with us is free.
Common Causes of Driver Fatigue
In an effort to avoid accidents caused by driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set rules governing how many hours a commercial truck driver can be behind the wheel before needing to stop and rest. Despite this, fatigued trucking accidents still occur.
Some common reasons for this include the following:
- Deadlines: Truck drivers often have a scheduled time to pick up or deliver goods. In an effort to perform on time, a trucker may tend to push on despite needing to stop and rest.
- Long working hours: The FMCSA has stipulated that a truck driver may drive no longer than 11 hours during a shift. Further, drivers are required to take at least a 30-minute break when they have driven for 8 consecutive hours. However, even with these requirements in place, a driver concentrating on the road for so many hours can begin to feel drowsy and fatigued during any shift.
- Insufficient rest: When not working, a truck driver is supposed to set aside enough time to get sufficient rest. However, if a driver fails to do so, it may mean that he or she then starts the next shift already fatigued.
- Increased stress: Just the act of driving a big-rig increases the stress level of truck drivers. Sitting in traffic, trying to navigate streets for turns, and constantly watching for other drivers who may be careless or reckless can all contribute to a truck driver feeling mentally exhausted.
- Medications: Some types of prescription and over-the-counter medications can produce the side effect of drowsiness. A truck driver must take precautions when considering taking medication.
Of course, there are other factors that contribute to truck drivers driving while fatigued. The list above is not comprehensive. The assistance of a lawyer would be needed to prove that driver fatigue was the cause of the accident.
Common Injuries Sustained From Driver Fatigued Truck Accidents
When a trucker is fatigued, his or her judgment is impaired, reaction times are slower, and the danger of falling asleep behind the wheel and causing a tragic accident is real. Some common injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Any type of brain injury requires immediate medical attention since even a seemingly minor head injury can later prove to be fatal. Some types of brain injuries are: concussions, contusions, and cerebral lacerations.
- Spinal cord injury: When the spinal cord is injured, other parts of the body can be affected as well. This condition can result in difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, loss of movement, paralysis, organ failure, and death.
- Amputation: In truck accidents, a victim’s limbs can be crushed or severed. Losing a limb can have an emotionally traumatic effect on the victim. Life enjoyment may be greatly diminished, and even simple daily tasks like eating and dressing could become difficult to accomplish.
- Burns: Since commercial trucks carry more fuel than other vehicles on the road and may even carry flammable materials, an accident could result in an explosion, which may leave victims with severe burns. A burn injury can be painful, affect mobility, and cause permanent scarring and disfigurement.
- Internal injuries: Due to the force of impact from a truck accident, a victim’s organs can rupture or internal bleeding may result. A collapsed lung, abdominal aorta, or internal bleeding can be fatal if not treated immediately.
- Wrongful death: Sadly, an accident caused by a fatigued truck driver can result in the death of an innocent victim and cherished loved one far too often.
Types of Compensation You May Be Entitled to Receive
You have the legal right to pursue compensation from the responsible party when you have experienced an injury or suffered a loss. While it is true that no amount of money can completely make up for your long-lasting injuries or your lost loved one, some compensation can certainly help you take care of your family and start rebuilding your life. Your compensation may include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future loss of income
- Property loss
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium and support (in the case of wrongful death)
- Funeral and burial expenses (in the case of wrongful death)
Why You Need the Assistance of the Lawyers at Cellino Law
It only makes sense for the person who hurt you and caused your losses to pay for your recovery. However, if a fatigued commercial truck driver caused the accident, pursuing compensation on your own could be a difficult process. Specific vital evidence would be needed to prove fault.
Although a trucker is required to record duty hours, driving hours, and more in a logbook according to the law, he or she or the company may alter the records to avoid guilt in the case of a collision. Our skillful lawyers, though, would know how to use investigative tactics, such as verifying receipts and the truck’s electronic data recorder, to ascertain whether the cause of your accident was indeed a fatigued driver.
Additionally, trucking accidents in general involve multiple insurance companies with adjusters whose purpose is to try to minimize any fault of their own and their insured customer. Negotiating with adjusters on your own will not only divert your attention from focusing on your healing but could also increase any stress you may already be feeling and interfere with your well-being.
Be assured that commercial trucking companies usually have a team of skillful lawyers on hand to protect the company’s interests. Imagine trying to spar with these well-trained attorneys. It really does not make sense to try to fight adjusters and insurance lawyers on your own. So don’t.
Instead, call Cellino Law. Our truck accident lawyers have decades of experience backing personal injury victims up, and we have the resources and nationwide attorney network to tackle and make a success of your case.
Our lawyers are available 24/7 to offer injury victims a free consultation. Call (800) 555-5555 to speak with a member of our personal injury team!