There were 44 large trucks involved in fatal accidents in Washington in 2012, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Some truck accidents are related to truck driver fatigue.
Truck driver fatigue or sleepiness is a much-neglected factor in trucking accidents. Fatigue can affect the driving skills and focus of a truck driver who is in control of a mammoth machine with the potential to cause serious injuries to occupants of smaller passenger vehicles.
Federal Rules Aim to Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue
The federal government has attempted to deal with problems involving fatigued truck drivers by setting stringent limits on the number of hours a truck driver can drive. The hours of service rules regulate not only the number of hours a driver can drive over the course of a specified time period, but also the amount of rest he or she must get before driving again.
Can truck driver fatigue be the basis of a trucking accident claim?
Driver fatigue can absolutely be a factor or the basis to hold a trucker liable in a personal injury claim against a trucking company. The truck driver is required under the law to comply with the work hour rules. The trucking company is also required to ensure compliance with the law by all employees. If failure to adhere to the hours of service rules results in an accident, it can place the trucking company and the driver liable for damages as a result of the accident.
For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) codes require that a company not allow a driver to continue operating a commercial motor vehicle beyond the hours of service limits.
However, some trucking companies might encourage such practices by putting pressure on drivers to meet tight deadlines. A truck accident investigation will reveal whether the driver was adhering to an unreasonable or highly strenuous schedule at the time of the accident.
How to Determine If Truck Driver Fatigue Caused an Accident
Any trucking accident claim in Kirkland will involve extensive investigations to uncover the factors that resulted in the accident. If you believe that a fatigued or sleepy truck driver caused your accident, then you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation.
Investigations after an accident will involve analysis of the logbook or electronic records to understand whether the driver violated the hours of service rules. Bear in mind that truck companies may legally destroy these records after a six-month period. Talk to your accident attorney about sending a spoliation letter to avoid destruction of these records, as well as other records in the company’s possession.
Some truck cabs may come equipped with in-cab cameras. This might be able to indicate whether the driver was fatigued or sleepy or otherwise engaging in dangerous behavior at the time of the accident. Your attorney can help you obtain this evidence and analyze it so you can present it in your case.
In some cases, eyewitnesses may have seen the truck driving erratically in the moments before the crash. An eyewitness may also testify about the specific events that led to the accident. This can help establish that the driver was not driving safely – which might indicate fatigue – and can establish if the trucker was to blame for the crash.
Contact Max Meyers Law for Truck Accident Help
If you suffered injuries in a trucking accident in Kirkland you believe was related to truck driver fatigue, talk about your case with an attorney familiar with truck accident claims. Call Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000 or use our online contact form to set up a consultation with a lawyer.