Truck accidents are far different from automobile accidents. They tend to cause catastrophic injuries that leave victims with permanent, life-altering disabilities. Large trucks are regulated by the federal government to protect other motorists. One reason this is done is to prevent a fatigued truck driver from causing an accident.
Unfortunately, fatigued driving still happens. And when it does, victims and their families need a dedicated accident attorney they can depend on. You can count on Cooper Schall & Levy to go to work for you and hold the responsible party accountable for your injuries.
The Risks Of Fatigued Truck Driving
Commercial trucks are large vehicles that often carry heavy loads. For that reason, an accident involving a truck can spell serious disaster or even death. These are some of the ways in which a fatigued truck driver can cause an accident:
- Impaired judgment. Studies have proven that the effects of drowsy driving are similar to those of drunk driving. The driver’s judgment is significantly impaired, which makes it more difficult to analyze and adapt to changing road conditions. For example, the driver will have a harder time judging speeds and distances between him or herself and other vehicles.
- Delayed reflexes. Similarly, a fatigued driver won’t react as fast as a rested one. Being tired has a significant effect on your reflexes, and truck drivers need to be completely focused on their driving. A split-second delay can cause a fatal crash.
- Cloudy vision. Being tired often makes it difficult to see clearly. Truck drivers have to pay attention to not just what’s in front of them, but to their mirrors as well. If they can’t see clearly, there’s a good chance they won’t see other vehicles or pedestrians.
- Erratic driving. It’s common for fatigued truck drivers to drift in and out of lanes, swerve, weave, and otherwise drive in unpredictable manners. This can directly cause an accident, or indirectly cause another vehicle to have to brake suddenly and thereby crash. Either way, the truck driver is liable.
- Aggressive driving. If you’re driving drowsy, there’s a good chance you’re going to be aggressive towards other motorists. Fatigue can cause irritability, as well as frustration with trying to concentrate on the road.
- Falling asleep at the wheel. Perhaps the very worst thing that can happen is that the driver falls asleep. The amount of damage this can do is almost unthinkable, but unfortunately is not uncommon.
Federal Regulations Concerning Truck Driver Fatigue
Because of the dangers posed by fatigued driving, federal regulations have been established to control how much time a driver can be on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency responsible for these rules. Some of the FMCSA guidelines are:
- No more than 11 hours of driving in a 24-hour period.
- A truck driver must rest at least 10 consecutive hours during a 24-hour period.
- A driver cannot be on-duty, whether driving or otherwise, more than 14 hours per day.
- When the driver is off-duty, he or she cannot be in the truck unless it’s in the sleeper section.
- After driving 8 consecutive hours, the driver must take a 30-minute break.
- A truck driver may not drive more than 60 hours in a 7-day period or more than 70 hours in an 8-day period. Once the driver reaches the applicable limit, he or she must rest for 34 consecutive hours before driving again.
- Truck drivers must keep a log of their duty status in 24-hour intervals.
How Can A Fatigued Truck Driver Accident Attorney Help Me?
If you’ve been in a truck accident, you will need to prove that the driver or the truck company was somehow negligent. When it comes to driver fatigue, one strategy may be to prove that the driver was on the road too long and in violation of federal regulations. Your attorney will start with evidence such as the logbook to find out what the driver him- or herself recorded.
Most large trucks have a black box recording device, similar to the ones used in commercial aircraft. These devices, also known as electronic control modules (ECM) or event data recorders (EDR), store electronic data that may be useful to analyze after a crash. Some of the information that may be picked up by the black box includes:
- Brake use
- Sudden acceleration or deceleration
- How frequently the truck was driven
- Usage data that can be compared to the logbook
- Other daily truck activity
This data does not last forever, and there are some companies that destroy evidence after an accident to try to shield themselves from liability. Obtaining this data requires the assistance of an attorney who can subpoena it. An expert may also be hired to download and analyze the data and ensure that it’s done without any tampering.
You may be able to obtain other records, such as traffic camera footage, toll records, or even credit card and payment records which can demonstrate how much driving was done before the accident. This information, combined with expert reconstruction of the accident scene, witness statements, and other evidence, could establish that driver fatigue caused the accident.
A knowledgeable lawyer understands Pennsylvania accident law and how to use civil procedure to obtain relevant, critical evidence in your case. Our firm has had extensive experience handling large truck accidents. We also know how to value your claim. Compensation involves more than just medical bills. Many victims lose time from work, lose the ability to work at the same level of productivity, experience pain and suffering, and more. When someone else’s negligence causes damages such as these, they should be made to pay. That’s where we come in.
Contact A Philadelphia Fatigued Truck Driver Accident Attorney
We fight to get the compensation our clients deserve so they can get back to their lives. If you or a loved one were involved in a fatigued truck driving accident, don’t hesitate to take legal action. Cooper Schall & Levy is here for you. Give us a call today.