Accidents Caused by Fatigued Truck Drivers
A Washington, D.C. Truck Accident Lawyer Helping People Whom Fatigued Truck Drivers Have Injured
Millions of people commute every day on the roads in the United States, and for the most part, driving is a normal, uneventful part of daily life. Occasionally, you might drive by an accident and feel thankful that you were not involved.
Unfortunately, accidents happen on the roads every day in the United States. While all motor vehicle collisions can cause serious injuries, one of the greatest dangers on the roadways is a tractor-trailer or semi-truck accident. When you are the one whom a truck accident injured, your life can turn upside down in an instant.
The size of the vehicle traveling at high speeds increases the potential for injury and fatality. With more than two-million commercial tractor-trailers on the road, truck accidents are bound to happen. Many different factors can cause a truck accident, but studies have found that one of the leading causes of accidents is driver fatigue. In fact, 13 percent of all drivers involved in a crash displayed signs of fatigue and exhaustion.
What Is Driver Fatigue?
Driver fatigue describes a driver who is too tired to safely and responsibly operate a vehicle. This is especially a problem in the trucking industry, which often rewards drivers for delivering materials on time or ahead of schedule. Although regulations restrict the number of hours that truck drivers can legally operate their vehicles, some drivers simply ignore these rules in favor of pushing through to their final destinations.
Limits of Driving and Hours of Service
To prevent fatigued driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation has enacted strict regulations on the consecutive number of hours that a driver can legally operate a property-carrying truck and trailer. These regulations, referred to as Hours of Service, prohibit a commercial truck driver from operating a vehicle for more than 11 hours before stopping for an eight-hour rest break. In addition, a driver who has completed 60 hours on the road in one week must take off from driving for at least 34 hours.
These rules help to keep fatigued drivers off the road. Trucking companies are required to enforce these regulations and they can sometimes face liability for accidents in which a driver was on the road for more than 11 hours at a time.
If you were injured in a truck accident and believe that the driver was too tired to drive, one of the first things that The Abelson Law Firm will look into is the driving log. We will perform a thorough investigation to determine if the driver should have actually rested instead of driven at the time of the accident.
Recognizing a Fatigued Driver
In the interest of driving defensively, learn to recognize the signs that a truck driver is operating a vehicle while fatigued. Although you can’t actually sit next to the driver in the cab and watch to see if eyelids start to droop, there are signs that you can look for on the road.
One of the most notable signs that drivers are suffering from fatigue is when they start to drift in and out of their lanes. When the hands on the steering wheel start to drop due to fatigue, the wheel unintentionally turns and the tractor-trailer moves into the other lane without the driver’s awareness of the movement. Drivers may jolt awake as they realize this error and attempt to correct the action.
Overcorrecting, however, is another common sign of driver fatigue. This is easy to spot—the truck slowly veers into another lane and then abruptly jerks back into the original lane.
Erratic braking is another common sign of driver fatigue. Imagine your reaction when you drift asleep for a moment while driving. There is a good chance that your first action upon waking up is to hit the brakes. This causes a dangerous situation as surrounding drivers have no way to anticipate the large moving vehicle in front of them will hit the breaks for no reason at all.
If you notice any of these behaviors, you may have seen a fatigued truck driver. When you can, pull over to the side of the road and call the highway patrol to report a dangerous driver on the road.
A Washington, D.C. Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
After you’re in a truck accident due to driver fatigue and you are focused on healing from your injuries, an experienced lawyer can work on the details of your case. Attorney Michael A. Abelson at The Abelson Law Firm is dedicated to helping you receive just compensation to cover the costs of your injuries. Medical bills, the cost of physical therapy, and prescription medication can add up quickly.
The last thing that you need to deal with at this time is the stress of financial debt. A lawyer who has experience and a solid track record of settling truck accident claims may:
- Collect physical evidence from the scene of the accident. This could include photos of the damage (if possible), records of the speed limit, and a description of the area in which the accident occurred.
- Gather witness testimony from those at the scene of the accident and those who work with the truck driver involved.
- Procure supplementary evidence and records. Was the driver reported for fatigued driving in the past? Has a supervisor warned the driver about taking the required rest breaks? All of this information may support your claim.
- Work with the insurance companies to submit correct paperwork and manage conversations regarding compensation for damages.
- Bring the claim to court if the insurance company will not offer a fair settlement.
Contact Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
At The Abelson Law Firm, Michael A. Abelson is here and ready to review the details of your case and will help to move your claim forward in the best direction to collect damages from the liable party. Contact him online today or call (202) 331-0600 to set up a free initial consultation.