Orange County Fatigued Truck Driving Accident Attorneys
Semi-trucks are powerful, heavy, and massive vehicles that should only be operated by fully aware and focused drivers. Failing to control one of these vehicles on public roads can lead to dangerous auto accidents, especially if the driver is fatigued. Federal regulations stipulate that truck drivers should take regular breaks, rest after long work hours, and avoid drowsy driving at all costs. Unfortunately, many drivers ignore these rules and guidelines, putting everyone on the road at risk when they drift off to sleep while driving.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a fatigued driver, reach out to Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie. Our team of Orange County fatigued truck driving accident attorneys understands just how dangerous this behavior is and how devastating these accidents can be. We can review the details of your case and, if we take you on as a client, relentlessly advocate for proper compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Call our office at (949) 752-7474 to schedule a free consultation.
An estimated 13% of truck accidents are the result of fatigue, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These staggering statistics outline the clear and present danger of fatigued driving within the trucking industry. A lack of sleep can make it difficult for a driver to focus on the road or respond to dangerous road conditions, and make him more likely to make fatal and costly mistakes. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that fatigued driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, as both types of drivers demonstrate the same levels of inattentiveness – both are considered “a cognitive impairment.”
When fatigued or drowsy, a truck driver will have a significantly harder time maintaining control over his vehicle and paying attention to the road. If he dozes off for a brief second, he may drift into another lane, speed, or fail to notice traffic signs, causing him to run a red light or stop sign. Bottom line, fatigued driving is extremely dangerous, which is why the FMCSA and other government agencies take it very seriously.
Among the various federal regulations that govern truck drivers, one of the most important details the Hours of Service (HOS). The HOS outline the maximum number of hours a truck driver can operate a vehicle, as well as requirements they must abide by before getting behind the wheel. These include limits on how long they can drive without taking a break, how long their breaks need to be, and specific provisions and exceptions to these rules. While these regulations heavily impact truck drivers, they are also important to other motor carrier operators, including bus drivers.
The key rules under the Hours of Service include:
- 14-Hour Limit: A driver may only work for a maximum of 14 hours and only after spending 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- 11-Hour Driving Limit: Within the 14-hour limit, a driver may only drive for 11 consecutive hours if he has spent 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- 30-Minute Rest Breaks: Truck drivers must take a 30-minute rest break before and after driving for eight consecutive hours.
- 60/70-Hour Limit: A driver can only work a total of 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period. This limit can be reset by resting for at least 34 hours.
Violating the HOS can lead to fines and potential driving restrictions, and can make truck drivers liable for any injuries or accidents they cause. However, these regulations also impact trucking companies. Employers are expected to hold their drivers to these policies and ensure they are always operating their vehicles as safely as possible. If they fail to do so, they can also be found liable for an accident.
Typically, trucking accidents are attributed to negligent truck drivers who fail to follow the rules of the road. Truck drivers owe a duty of care to everyone on the road, from other drivers to pedestrians, and should always take great care to avoid causing an accident. Given that fatigued driving can easily and swiftly cause a collision, it is a form of negligence that can make a trucker liable for any injuries he caused.
That being said, it is important to understand that liability can also extend to a trucking company. The FMCSA requires trucking companies to keep track of their drivers’ work hours, either electronically or with paper logbooks. If a trucking company is aware that a driver has broken the HOS in the past, then it should take immediate action to reprimand the driver to correct the issue. In addition, if the trucking company pressured the driver to break the HOS, such as by offering a higher commission for completing an order on time or early, then it can also be found liable for an accident.
Proving another driver was fatigued at the time of an accident can be complicated. While the trucker may admit fault after the accident or the police may record it in their report, there are many instances where the cause of the accident is never clearly stated. While you may assume you will automatically receive compensation because a truck driver hit you, their insurance company does not see it that way. Insurance companies are rarely ever charitable and will use the lack of causation as an excuse to minimize coverage.
However, if you work with a skilled Orange County truck accident attorney at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, we may be able to prove liability and secure you proper compensation. Our firm has more than 40 years of experience investigating truck accidents and holding negligent drivers accountable for their actions. We can quickly act to secure any evidence, such as copies of the truck’s black box data, driver’s logbook, or federal violations, to support your claim. To learn how we can represent you in a fatigued truck driving accident claim, call our office at (949) 752-7474 and schedule a free consultation.
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