Legal Options if Injured by Fatigued Truck Driver
While there are several regulations in place to prevent truck crashes caused by driver fatigue, serious injuries and fatalities still occur. If you or a loved one have been seriously hurt in a truck accident, call an experienced Ohio trucking accident attorney right away.
Collisions with large commercial vehicles caused by driver fatigue often lead to serious injuries and fatalities. These vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and when they are moving at speeds of 65 mph on the highway, there is often no way to avoid a crash. There may also be little you can do to minimize your injuries.
While you cannot always avoid a truck accident or the injuries it leads to, there are steps you can take after the collision to ensure you recover the compensation you need to move forward with your life and limit the long-term consequences of the accident. It is best to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The Ohio truck accident lawyers of Kisling, Nestico & Redick understand that you and your family face a significant financial strain after a crash due to medical bills, physical rehabilitation, lost income, vehicle repairs or replacement, and more.
As one of the largest personal injury firms in Ohio, KNR has over 500 years of collective experience in helping individuals like you who are hurt in a trucking accident. We offer the knowledge and resources you need to get through the complex insurance claim or legal process.
Call us today at 1-800-HURT-NOW to schedule a free consultation.
Truck Driver’s Must Follow Hours of Service Regulations
There are specific federal regulations meant to avoid trucking accidents caused by driver fatigue. All truckers are required to follow these service hour rules to ensure they get enough sleep, proper breaks, and avoid driving while drowsy.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determines how many hours truckers can drive within a certain time period depending on the cargo or the trucker’s weekly work schedule. For example, truckers carrying property, not people, can drive up to 11 hours within a 14 hour period after having 10 consecutive hours off. These consecutive hours can include off-duty time and hours in a sleeper berth. However, the 14-hour limit is not extended by off-duty time. Additionally, drivers have to take at least one 30-minute rest within any 8-hour driving period. The FMCSA provides different rules for truckers moving passengers. These drivers can work up to 10 hours within a 15-hour period after 8 consecutive hours off.
The hours of service regulations also control how much a trucker can drive within a work week. Depending on whether a trucker works for 7 consecutive days or 8, they can work up to 60 or 70 hours that week, respectively. A 7- or 8-day week can only restart after the trucker is off duty for at least 34 consecutive hours.
What Fatigue Does to a Driver
The entire purpose of these complicated working hour regulations for truckers is to avoid drowsy truck drivers on the road. Driver fatigue significantly increases the risk of an accident, and everyone, from motor carriers to personal motorists benefit from awake and vigilant truck drivers.
Fatigue causes a number of changes within a person’s mind and body, leading to a greater chance of a crash. Being drowsy can cause:
- Reduced vigilance or lack of proper lookout
- Inability or delay in recognizing hazards on the road
- Delayed reaction times
- Impaired judgment
- Swerving between lanes
- Falling asleep behind the wheel
The side effects of fatigue are similar to the symptoms of intoxication. A drowsy truck driver is no safer on the road than a drunk driver. Both may speed or drive dangerously slow. Both may weave between lanes or change lanes and merge without properly looking out for other vehicles. Both types of drivers are more likely to fall sleep behind the wheel.
Proving a Truck Driver was Fatigued
Your attorney may seek to prove that the trucker who hit you was too tired to drive based on their own testimony, including whether they admitted to being tired after driving for a significant stretch of time, and witness and police observations, like whether the trucker fell asleep behind the wheel. However, the strongest way to prove truck driver fatigue is to show that they violated federal hour of service regulations. To do this, your attorney will use the discovery portion of the legal process to gain information from the trucker, their vehicle, and the motor carrier. Then your lawyer will:
- Review the trucker and motor carrier’s hours of service records
- Compare the trucker’s records to the truck’s black box
- Compare the trucker’s records to truck’s GPS data
Truck drivers are often under a great deal of pressure to travel significant distances in certain periods of time. This can lead them to ignore federal regulations and make false service hour records. However, by comparing the driver’s records to data recorded in the vehicle’s black box and other electronic components, your attorney can show the vehicle was on and moving during times the trucker says they were off duty.
Our Ohio Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
When you are injured in a crash caused by a truck driver, you need to work with a lawyer who has experience navigating the nuances of trucking accidents, including knowledge of federal trucking regulations. At Kisling, Nestico & Redick, we have the knowledge you need and the resources necessary to take full advantage of the discovery process and obtain evidence to support your personal injury claim. We have years of experience litigating trucking accidents and know the strongest strategies to prove a truck driver was too tired to be behind the wheel.
To learn more about how we can help, contact KNR at 1-800-HURT-NOW to schedule a free consultation.