The Serious Ramifications Of Drowsy Driving
Given that truck drivers often work long hours, follow many of the same monotonous routes several times a month or year, and are expected to stick to tight deadlines, it is no wonder that so many are involved in serious accidents when they fall asleep at the wheel. Scientists and researchers have found that fatigued drivers are just as dangerous as driver who get behind the wheel intoxicated, and drowsy driving often leads to traumatic injuries. What ever the reason behind these accidents, they are 100% preventable so long as truck and trucking companies obey state and federal laws regarding work hours. Sadly, many skirt the rules or outright ignore them, injuring and killing multiple drivers every year.
If you or someone you love were involved in an accident caused by a fatigued truck, you are likely in need of serious financial compensation. Trucking accidents are rarely ever minor, but their trucking insurance companies are also resistant to paying out proper compensation to accident victims. In order to get the money you need to recover and take charge of your medical bills, you need to contact Pendergast Law and speak to a Seattle fatigued truck driver accident attorney. Our legal team has nearly 30 years of experience combatting dismissive trucking insurance companies and can provide sound legal advice for your case. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today toll-free at 888-539-9211.
How Fatigue Influences Truck Drivers
It has long been common knowledge among state and federal officials that truck drivers are prone to fatigue. Either through surveys, post-accident analysis, or independent research, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has outlined the very real dangers of drivers falling asleep at the wheel and losing control of their vehicles. While fatigue can affect any driver, truck drivers have a long history of it.
For years, drivers were pushed to fulfill orders at record speeds. Trucking companies and drivers both get paid based on the number of deliveries they make and the more they pack into a year, the higher their profits are. But this also comes at the high risk of a driver losing control of their vehicle.
Given how powerful, large and heavy their vehicles are, truck drivers have to be keenly aware of the road around them to avoid a collision. If a driver’s eyes droop or they fall asleep for even a second, they could cause a catastrophic accident, either by colliding with other vehicles, drifting into the opposing traffic, or even driving into a building. Ultimately, when a driver is fatigued, it is as if no one is at the wheel and in control of the vehicle at all.
Federal Laws On Rest Breaks
In order to combat driving fatigue, the United States government required all large motor carriers, including truck, bus, and motorcoach drivers, to abide by strict hours of service. Under these regulations, drivers are required to take mandatory rest breaks if they have been at the wheel for a certain number of hours. If they violate these hours of service, they risk the possibility that they can fall asleep at the wheel.
Hours of service are regulated in two ways. For older vehicles, the driver is expected to manually write down their work hours and rest breaks in a paper log that must be routinely inspected. However, many modern vehicles now utilize black boxes that automatically record when a driver is at the wheel and when they have taken a break, among other information. If a driver is found to have violated these hours, they could not only face fines but also temporary suspensions. In turn, if a trucking company has several violations, it can have its safety rating dropped, decreasing its overall marketability. However, many still choose to violate these restrictions in order to maximize profits.
Proving Fatigue Caused An Accident
Determining whether or not fatigue caused your accident can be difficult. In the aftermath of an accident, the truck driver may be fully awake and filled with adrenaline, hiding any signs that they were fatigued. Unless the officers investigating the accident suspect fatigue and include it in their reports or the driver themselves admits to being fatigued, it may not be obvious.
That being said, an experienced attorney can identify the signs during an in-depth investigation. For one, they can work with an accident reconstructionist to determine the events of the accident, including when and where the driver lost control, what actions they may have taken leading up to the accident, and if they committed any other acts of negligence. In addition, many drivers attempt to combat fatigue by abusing medication and drugs, which may be identified through a post-crash drug test.
Another key piece of evidence is the black box we mentioned earlier. Since these devices record rest breaks and work hours, they may show that the driver violated HOS regulations. If so, then that would constitute a clear act of negligence. Beyond the black box, witness statements from other drivers and pedestrians could also provide key evidence that the driver lost control of the vehicle. Often, you do not necessarily have to prove that the driver fell asleep, just that they lost control and caused the collision, such as by swerving into other lanes, excessive speeding, or other reckless actions.
Contact Experienced Accident Attorneys Today
Recovering after a trucking accident can be next to impossible without strong financial aid. Even with good health insurance, you are likely looking at years of medical debt that will only add up if you need long-term treatment. You may also have to leave work for an extended period of time to fully recover from both the physical and psychological trauma of the accident. All of these costs can devastate a single family in Seattle. But, if the accident was caused by a negligent truck driver, then you may be able to recover compensation from the trucking company’s insurance policy.
Receiving compensation will require extensive research, an in-depth accident investigation, hours of negotiations, and the determination of a skilled Seattle truck accident attorney. The team at Pendergast Law has just those skills, as well as more than four decades of experience and legal knowledge. If you bring your case to us, we can thoroughly review your situation and determine who is to blame for your accident.
Do not allow a dismissive insurance company to limit your right to compensation. The attorneys at Pendergast Law can offer thorough legal guidance during a difficult period of your life and advocate for the maximum available compensation for your injuries. To get started on a claim and schedule a free consultation, contact our office toll-free at 888-539-9211.