Drowsy driving puts a driver in a similar state of mind as driving drunk. When a driver is drowsy, they react slower and do not process information as fast, resulting in a greater likelihood of an accident.
When that drowsy driver is a truck driver, it can make matters exponentially worse. Because a truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, even a low-speed accident can cause catastrophic damage and injuries to people in other cars. If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident caused by a drowsy truck driver, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries.
Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue
Truck drivers spend an enormous amount of time on the road. Driving can become mundane and cause your mind to wander if you do not pay attention. Because truck drivers have other pressures placed on them, that can exacerbate an already existing problem.
While long hours on the road can lead truck drivers to become drowsy, so can unconventional work schedules. Working odd hours can prevent truck drivers from getting a good night’s rest, something that is extremely important to ensuring a safe drive. Some truck drivers are forced to take long breaks, then drive overnight. The inconsistency of this type of schedule can lead to a reduced ability to stay alert and awake while driving.
Because of irregular schedules or difficulty concentrating while driving, some truck drivers lean on stimulants to help keep them alert. While this might seem like a good option to counteract drowsiness, these drugs can actually further exacerbate irregular sleep pattern problems. They can also impair a driver’s ability to perceive and react to dangerous situations.
Some truck drivers also rely on sleep aids to regulate their sleeping schedule. Unfortunately, these sleep aids can stay in your system even after you wake up, impairing judgment and reaction time.
One of the biggest reasons for truck driver drowsiness is being overworked. Truck drivers are bound by certain regulations but still spend the vast majority of the day driving. Handling massive vehicles requires constant vigilance and attention, giving little rest to both the mind and the body.
Many truck drivers are pressured by their employer or the shipping company to meet exceedingly tight deadlines. This can put truckers on the road longer and in more dangerous situations, both for themselves and those around them.
Responsibility for Truck Accidents
Getting into a truck accident is scary. You are not concerned about who is to blame but rather about making sure your injuries get the medical attention necessary. Your focus is on getting your life back on track and recovering. But it is also vital to know who is at fault for your truck accident because you may be able to hold them liable for the crash and collect compensation from them so you do not have to pay a penny out of your own pocket.
There are many potential sources of liability in a truck accident. Because trucks are so large, it can also be difficult to determine the exact cause of your crash. It may be necessary to use a truck accident reconstruction expert who can thoroughly investigate your accident and all the evidence to accurately determine who is to blame. And it could be more than one party.
The Truck Driver
Truck drivers are responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle, just like any other driver. They are also professional drivers and are trained in road safety techniques. If they did not operate their truck safely because they were drowsy, they may be liable for the accident.
The Truck Driver’s Employer
When a trucking company hires a driver, they are required to ensure the driver has the required licenses and experience. They are also required to train the driver to make certain the driver knows how to handle such a large vehicle. If a driver has a history of drowsy driving accidents but the employer still hired them, the employer could also be liable for your accident.
Many trucking companies also push their drivers to fudge their hours on the road. There are federal regulations every truck driver must follow and that includes not exceeding a certain number of hours of driving without an extended rest. To meet tight deadlines, many trucking companies urge their drivers to drive longer hours, resulting in drowsy driving.
Trucks are massive vehicles with thousands of moving parts. Each of those parts must be assembled correctly. If not, accidents can happen. If a truck manufacturer neglected to assemble or maintain a vehicle correctly, that could also cause an accident. When that occurs, the truck manufacturer could also be liable for your accident.
If it is determined that a specific part failed in the truck, the manufacturer of that part could also be liable for the crash. While many trucking parts come from different manufacturers, each part serves a specific purpose and if it fails to work correctly, it could have dire consequences.
Trucks are like any other vehicle that requires regular maintenance. But since trucks are so much larger and have so many more parts than a regular vehicle, their maintenance requires extreme attention to detail. If a truck is improperly maintained, that could also be the reason for your accident and the company responsible for maintaining the truck could be liable.
The point of knowing which party is responsible for your truck accident is to know which party or parties to file a personal injury claim against. When you get into a truck accident, you are likely left with debilitating injuries that will keep you focused on your medical needs for a long time. That is why you need to speak with a lawyer right away to get the claims process started.
Together with your legal team, you may be able to collect compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost income
- Lost earning potential
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Present and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may also be unable to work temporarily or permanently. This can seriously hinder your ability to earn a living and support yourself. Not only will you have to deal with medical bills, but you will be dealing with unanticipated financial hardships without an income.
This is compensation you may be able to receive through a personal injury claim against the negligent party or parties. To prove negligence, you will need to show:
- The truck driver or another party owed you a duty of care to drive safely or ensure the truck was in safe operating condition
- That party breached their duty of care.
- You suffered injuries as a result.
Initially, this can seem straightforward. However, because trucks have tons of moving parts and many people and companies come into contact with the vehicle, there are numerous sources of liability. A skilled legal team can help you target the right party for responsibility.
The Freehold Truck Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Help You Recover
Truck accidents can be catastrophic, leaving victims with life-altering injuries requiring a lifetime of medical care. Even seemingly minor accidents with a truck can be tragic. Too many truck drivers skirt the rules and regulations around rest, which could cause accidents. If you think you have been hit by a drowsy truck driver, speak with the Freehold truck accident lawyers at Ellis Law. Contact us today at 732-308-0200 to schedule your free consultation with our experienced team. We proudly serve our neighbors in Freehold, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.