How Does Over Exhaustion of the Truck Driver Affect My Personal Injury Case in Texas?
Statistics show that truck driver fatigue and over-exhaustion may contribute to up to 40% of all truck accidents. Trucks on the road today can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. and are difficult to drive. They are hard to maneuver (especially rapidly), need much longer distances to stop, and have various blind spots. When your car, small van, or SUV are struck by this 80,0000 lb. mass going 60-80 mph, the physics involved contribute to a massive impact and can cause disastrous damage to your vehicle and it’s passengers.
As truck accident lawyers in Texas, we can tell you that this is why professional truck drivers have to be especially vigilant to what’s around them, the possible dangers ahead, to their side, or behind them. If they are fatigued this vigilance is impaired and their reflexes are slowed. These and other effects of exhaustion can contribute greatly to your accident.
Drivers are always under pressure by their employer (or themselves) to deliver their cargo on time. Even the loss of a small amount of sleep reduces their response time and contributes to accidents.
The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) does have regulations in place for these professionals to follow. For example, drivers are prohibited from driving for more than 11 hours in a row and must have 10 hours consecutive hours off after every 11 hours.
All truck drivers are required to maintain a logbook showing exactly how many hours they have been driving in a day and how much rest they’ve taken. This is one of the first tools you and your attorney will look at to prove that fatigue was involved in the incident.
How is the Drivers Log Book Used to Prove My Case and Could it be Falsified?
The logbook is required to be kept by the driver daily and must be a detailed account of the times they drove and the times they rested. Every 24 hours of service must be logged. The driver notes when he started to drive, the geographical point he started from, the time he arrived at the destination, and the estimated miles driven. By using this information, a professional analysis can usually show if the information is valid.
The trucking companies themselves commonly try to make sure that these rules are followed. If they are not, and the driver falsified them, the trucking company may also be liable for any injuries, damages, or possibly deaths involved.
Your personal injury attorney will most certainly use this logbook as a prime piece of evidence to prove your case. They can do an in-depth analysis of the details of the log and usually (if it was falsified) prove whether the information is valid or not.
What are Some Risks Posed by an Over Exhausted Truck Driver?
The FMCSA regulations put in place provide stringent accountability for the drivers and their employers. If any of the rules are not followed serious consequences could result. The driver’s license could be suspended or revoked. Other penalties, such as fines, could be imposed on the driver or their company. In other words, the driver could lose his right to drive (and his livelihood), and the employers could suffer high fines and legal penalties.
Fatigue and over exhaustion of the drivers can be very serious and lead to some of the following:
Lack of sleep or rest could result in very poor driver judgment
The driver may fall asleep at the wheel
Driver fatigue may start slowly, but can escalate in effect rapidly and the results can escalate
Fatigued drivers have much slower reaction times
Fatigue is one of the main reasons that drivers “drift” between lanes
The truck driver can misjudge their level of fatigue and may be completely unaware of their impairment
Remember these men and women are driving an 80,000 lb. “missile” down the road. Seconds lost due to diminished reaction time can make the difference between life and death.
How is Fault Determined?
If you have had an accident involving a truck and need compensation for property or injuries, you and your attorney will need to establish who was at fault. In most of these mishaps, you would consider the truck driver to be solely at fault. This is not always the case and there could be other parties to consider.
Some of these other parties may be:
The trucking company – The company may have required the driver to go beyond the time they should have been behind the wheel. They also may have hired the driver knowing that he or she had a record of unsafe operation of their vehicle.
The cargo company – The cargo could have been loaded improperly which caused unsafe weight distribution which contributed to the accident.
The vehicle manufacturer – The vehicle itself, or some of its parts, may have been poorly designed and failed. This could have contributed to the accident or may have been the overall cause.
It may be true that in a majority of the accidents the driver may be at fault, but that certainly is not always the case. Truck versus auto accidents are usually serious and can cause severe injury to you, your passengers, and your vehicle. Recovery from these injuries can cost thousands of dollars and cause dire financial injury to you and your family.
This is exactly why you need the help of a Texas truck accident law firm who will provide diligent representation for all clients involved. Many times it is the driver’s over exhaustion that contributes or causes the accident, but your thorough, diligent personal injury firm will work to fit together all the pieces of the puzzle and help get the compensation you need so you can get on with your life.
By Chris Brasure
Brasure Law Firm, PLLC was founded by Chris Brasure in 2006. His legal accomplishments are diverse and numerous. He is a fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, was a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and holds a BA in political science and speech communication from Baylor University. He then went on to obtain his law degree from Baylor University Law School. Chris believes that education is absolutely critical to one’s success, so his firm now offers The Brasure Law Firm Scholarship to give back to the community and to help students who are seeking to pursue a higher education.