Were you severely hurt, or did you lose a loved one in a crash with an 18-wheeler? Did you discover that the driver was fatigued at the time of the accident? Fatigued driving is negligent driving, and you could be owed significant compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. Contact a Kentucky truck accident lawyer at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP to learn more about your rights and legal options right away.
Shattered bones, internal bleeding, brain damage, even death. A collision with a large truck or commercial vehicle has serious consequences. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that in 2017, 2,761 people lost their lives in crashes with large trucks. Even more, people are left with the physical and emotional scars of their injuries, not to mention the lasting financial damage of the never-ending medical bills. Why do so many of these crashes occur? One of the top reasons for truck collisions continues to be driver fatigue. Unrealistic timetables and expectations may make drivers feel like they have to push themselves to the mental and physical limits, regardless of their safety or the safety of others.
Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident with a truck and suspect driver fatigue as the cause? The legal team at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP wants to help you. We are committed to aiding the victims of trucking accidents to get the compensation that they need. We’ve even been recognized by The National Law Journal, The Best Lawyers in America® for our commitment to our clients. An accident caused by driver fatigue is serious and shouldn’t be ignored. Get legal help for your bills and hold this negligent driver responsible for their actions. Contact us or call (859) 550-2900 today for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
What is Driver Fatigue and How Does it Contribute to Accidents?
Driver fatigue is a condition the results from physical or mental overexertion which impairs the body’s performance. Several different factors can contribute to driver fatigue such as a lack of sleep, lack of food, dehydration, extended work hours, and strenuous physical or mental tasks. There is no question that driving a big rig is a tough job. The hours are long and there is always the pressure of having to deliver on tight deadlines. The stress of having to meet these deadlines can push drivers to the brink, not only taxing their bodies but their mental awareness as well. Drivers may feel the need to overextend themselves for the sake of making it to their destination on time. Typically, eating and sleeping are the first necessities they skip in order to shave time off their drive.
When the body is deprived of sleep or proper nutrition and hydration it impacts both physical and mental performance. According to information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a survey on the sleeping and driving habits of large truck drivers finds that unhealthy lifestyles, long hours, and sleeping issues were the major causes of drivers falling asleep behind the wheel. These are a few examples of the impact the lack of adequate rest, a drop in blood sugar, or dehydration may cause to the body and mind:
- Slowing of reaction time
- Hazy concentration
- Lack of coordination
- Memory lapse
- Changes in mood
- Reduced judgement ability
- Falling asleep behind the wheel
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration finds that at least 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle collisions are the result of driver fatigue. Driver fatigue contributes to accidents by altering both the body and the mind’s ability to reason and function properly. A fatigued driver may not be able to use sound judgment when making driving decisions, they may not be able to respond to traffic or road conditions quickly enough, they may even fall asleep and veer off the road or into another vehicle. There are a number of ways that a driver who is fatigued can cause a major accident. Unfortunately, the victims of those accidents are the ones typically left picking up the pieces of their lives. Lives that may be altered significantly due to serious and sometimes fatal injuries.
Rules of the Road for Truckers and Why it Matters to You
The problem of driver fatigue in the trucking industry is well known. The FMCSA recognizes the problem associated with driving while fatigued. They have put into place regulations that dictate how long a driver can stay on the road without rest breaks. Truck drivers are only allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours in a row after taking 10 consecutive hours off. They are also prohibited from driving beyond 14 hours after going on duty. In one-week time frame drivers are not to exceed 60 hours of drive time.
Despite the best intentions of these rules, there are still those who feel that meeting a tight deadline is worth the risk of breaking the rules. Or perhaps those 10 hours of rest weren’t spent resting at all. Drivers who fail to take the safety of themselves and others seriously have to face repercussions for their actions. One common question is many victims of truck accidents ask themselves is how do you prove that an accident was caused by driver fatigue?
Having an experienced lawyer working on your behalf is the number one way to see that justice is served. That’s because regulations dictate that truck drivers must maintain a logbook for every 24- hour period of service. Those logbooks have crucial information that can help establish the circumstances surrounding an accident. There also may be vital video evidence from an in-cab recorder in some cases. An attorney will be able to help you secure this type of evidence before it is either lost or destroyed.
Who Can be Held Liable for a Driver Fatigue Accident?
When an accident occurs the first people that take the blame for the incident are always the drivers. How did the accident happen and whose fault was it? Typically, the driver at fault will be on the hook for the damages via their insurance company. That may be the case in a truck accident as well. If the driver was fatigued at the time of the accident and you sustained serious damage to your vehicle and injuries, their insurance company will want to handle the case quickly and quietly.
You are going to be overwhelmed with caring for your injuries and finding a way to pay your medical bills, especially if you are out of a job for a while because of those injuries. You may want to take the insurance settlement and be done. That is a mistake. Trucking companies have large teams of lawyers and insurers working on their behalf, not yours. They aren’t looking at whether the money they hand you will cover all of your current and future expenses. They want to be rid of you and move on to business as usual. An attorney working on your behalf is your best defense. At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, we work to protect your rights and make sure you get the compensation you are fully entitled to.
There is another area where an attorney can be of value to you following a driver fatigue accident. The driver may not be the only one at fault for the accident. There are sometimes cases where the trucking company may also be partly liable for the accident because of negligent hiring practices, failure to follow FMCSA driving regulations as laid out above or even falsifying logbooks. An attorney with Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP will be able to help investigate the circumstances that led up to your accident and help determine who is liable. Not only that, we make sure that no matter your injuries, you get the compensation that you deserve in order to help you begin to put your life back together.
How Our Firm Can Help You
Someone who has not had adequate rest should not be in charge of cooking dinner on a hot stove, let alone the operation of an 80,000-pound vehicle traveling at 65 mph. It is a recipe for disaster. Accidents with large trucks cause massive damage that may take months and sometimes years to recover from, if at all. Broken bones, internal damage, brain trauma, all serious injuries that require serious and expensive medical intervention. That’s not to mention the physical therapy or rehabilitation that may be required once you are finally able to leave the hospital. A fatigued driver already put your health in jeopardy, are you going to allow them to put your financial health in jeopardy as well?
The Kentucky truck accident lawyers at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP understand that you have a long road to recovery ahead of you. You don’t have to travel that road alone. We are experienced lawyers who know how serious the repercussions of a truck accident can be for you and your family. That’s why we offer a free consultation so that we can get to know you and your case and you get to know us and how we can help. Call us at (859) 550-2900 or fill out our online form so that we can begin the process of getting you the compensation you deserve.