When a motorist is tired, they may find themselves weaving back and forth between lanes, having difficulty maintaining the right speed, and unable to keep an appropriate distance from other vehicles. This is because their drowsiness impairs their cognition and critical motor skills needed to operate a vehicle safely. Drowsy driving, otherwise known as fatigued driving, is hazardous as it increases the risk of a collision. If you have been injured in a truck accident and your suspect driver fatigue played a role, it is in your best interest to contact a skilled Prince George’s County Truck Accident Lawyer who can help you hold responsible parties accountable for their negligence. Please continue reading to learn how truck driver fatigue can impact an accident claim.
What are hours of service regulations?
The trucking industry is governed by federal and state safety regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces trucking regulations to mitigate the risks of truck accidents. Fatigued driving is common in the trucking industry, as truckers are often pressured to meet tight deadlines. This leads them to push themselves beyond their limits and stay on the road longer than they should. To combat fatigued driving, the government has implemented regulations on the number of hours truckers can operate on the road, known as “hours of service” regulations.
According to research, driving for more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% (the legal limit). Therefore, you are three times more likely to be in a car crash if you are fatigued. As such, truckers are only permitted to drive a maximum of eleven hours after ten consecutive hours off duty. Commercial truck drivers cannot log driving time if they have gone more than eight straight hours without taking at least a 30-minute rest break. Truckers are required to keep a record of their hours of operation in logbooks.
What role does driver fatigue play in truck accidents and liability?
If you believe fatigue played a role in the accident, you must understand that the trucker and the company may be responsible for your damages. If the trucking company pressured the trucker to violate their hours of service rules or demanded they meet impractical deadlines, they can be held directly liable for your injuries. Generally, in a personal injury case, you will be burned with having to prove the other party was negligent, meaning they failed to use reasonable care under the circumstances.
When a trucker or company violates a governmental trucking regulation designed to prevent collisions, the negligence per se doctrine may be used as a shortcut to proving negligence. Instead of showing that the trucker did not act reasonably, you could demonstrate that they violated a statute or regulation designed to protect people like you and that you suffered injuries that the rule was meant to prevent. If you can show that the trucker or company violated a trucking regulation, it will help prove they were negligent because a reasonable driver would usually never break the law.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident and you suspect fatigue played a role, contact a determined lawyer from the legal team at Timian & Fawcett, LLC, who can help you investigate the accident’s circumstances and gather evidence to help you prove your case. Our firm is prepared to help you fight to obtain the total and fair compensation you deserve.