Most every study on the cause of truck accidents cites trucker fatigue as a contributing cause, or as the only cause, yet it is hard to get hard data on the issue because truckers involved in an accident rarely admit to being tired. One study placed fatigue as a cause of trucking accidents at number seven on a list of ten factors, at 13 percent. The other factors included:
- Brake issues;
- Excessive speed;
- Drivers who are unfamiliar with roads;
- Problems with the actual roads;
- Over-the counter drug use by truck driver;
- Inadequate vetting of truck driver;
- Work pressure from trucking company;
- Driver performed an illegal maneuver, and
- Driver inattention.
Truck Drivers Surveyed Admit to Falling Asleep at Least Once in the Past Month
Despite the fact that fatigue is listed at number seven, it is likely a factor in many more truck accidents. Seven percent of drivers who were involved in a crash reported falling asleep prior to the crash—this is the number of drivers who actually admitted to falling asleep. An informal survey of truck drivers concluded that one in four had fallen asleep while driving a truck within the past month. On average, truckers get about five hours of sleep a night, and most experts agree that adults need from 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly. Loss of sleep impacts performance in the same manner as alcohol impairment—for truckers who received five hours of sleep for two or more nights, then were awake for 24 hours, their impairment was similar to having a BAC of 0.10 percent.
The Difficulties in Remaining Alert After Eleven Hours of Driving
The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the relatively new rule that allows truck drivers to drive eleven hours at a stretch as opposed to the ten hours safety groups across the nation have advocated for. Many truckers are also in favor of lowering the requirement to ten hours. Anyone who has ever taken a long, cross-country trip knows just how difficult it is to remain alert after driving eleven hours straight, yet truck drivers do so on a daily basis.
In light of the fact that more than 4,000 people are killed in trucking accidents annually, with another 100,000 or more left with serious injuries, many find the Court’s decision puzzling, to say the least. Even with an allowable eleven- hour driving limit, tight deadlines and slim paychecks lead many drivers to exceed even those rules. Trucking companies are aware their drivers are exceeding the limits, yet they are more interested in their financial bottom line than the safety of the American public.
The Dangers of Being Involved in an Accident with a Truck
The passengers in a car or pickup rarely fare well when involved in an accident with a large commercial truck. Considering that a commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds (and can potentially be loaded with hazardous cargo as well) you can see why a 3,500-pound passenger vehicle has little protection. The injuries associated with a trucking accident are often catastrophic—brain trauma, amputated limbs, spinal trauma, paralysis and disfigurement. The trauma of colliding with a huge commercial truck can also leave victims with serious emotional issues, including PTSD, severe depression and chronic insomnia.
Many victims of a trucking accident find it difficult—if not impossible—to ever get behind the wheel of their vehicle again. If you were involved in a trucking accident, it is essential that you contact an experienced Martinson & Beason attorney immediately. Our attorneys will ensure no crucial evidence “disappears,” following your accident and that you are not bullied by a large trucking corporation and their army of attorneys.
Our attorneys can also do the following for you:
- We will interview witnesses and get statements from those witnesses soon after the accident; as time passes, witnesses may move away or their memories may fade.
- If there was any camera footage of the accident, we will secure that evidence as well as ensuring the black box evidence is properly preserved.
- We will subpoena the trucking company’s safety records and the personnel records of the driver.
- If necessary, we will bring in experts to recreate the accident or the scene of the accident.
- We will obtain all maintenance records related to the truck involved in your accident.
- We will determine whether there were violations of federal or Alabama state law concerning driving regulations.
- If the trucking company has a past history of violations, we will discover that information.
- We will secure and review the police reports pertaining to your trucking accident.
- Our truck accident attorneys will thoroughly review your medical records, interviewing medical personnel when necessary in order to build a solid case on your behalf.
- We will secure the driver’s log books in order to determine whether the driver had driven more than the allowable hours.
You may be entitled to the following compensation for the injuries which resulted from your truck collision:
- Past, present and future medical expenses, including emergency room visits, ongoing doctor visits or rehabilitative services, surgical procedures and extended medical attention and care should the injuries be severe.
- Lost wages, whether temporary or permanent, from the time of the injury to the conclusion of your lawsuit.
- Loss of earning capacity may be a factor in your lawsuit if your attorney shows your ability to earn a living has been negatively impacted.
- Non-economic damages in the form of pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of consortium may be applicable, depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident. The extent of the pain you suffered and continue to suffer as well as how long that level of pain can be expected to last as well as damages for fright, embarrassment, nervousness, anxiety, worry, grief, or other forms of emotional distress caused by the accident will all factor into your non-economic damages.
- If the actions of the defendant were willful, malicious or intentional, you may be entitled to punitive damages which are meant to punish the defendant as well as prevent the same type of behavior in the future.
Martinson & Beason—Preserving and Protecting Your Interests Following Your Trucking Accident
Experience and knowledge on the part of your attorney are key factors in your eventual settlement. The attorneys at Martinson & Beason are accustomed to handling lawsuits with multiple defendants. We know whether to target the person or company responsible for maintenance and repairs, the driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer or the loading company—or perhaps all of those, depending on the circumstances of your accident.
If a defective truck or truck part was responsible for your accident, our skill in product liability law will provide a more positive outcome. We want you to be able to look look to your future your future and deal with your injuries as well as the pain and trauma of your trucking accident while we work hard to preserve and protect your interests. The attorneys at Martinson & Beason will advocate tirelessly and aggressively on your behalf, and will be the trusted legal representative you deserve. Call Martinson & Beason today.