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Truck Driver Fatigue

A fatigued driver is a dangerous one – no matter what vehicle they are driving. A driver who is tired will make bad decisions, react slowly and even fall asleep at the wheel. Now, when the vehicle involved is a massive 80,000-pound rig that is barreling down the highway at a fast speed, you can imagine just how much greater the danger becomes for all involved.

If you believe that truck driver fatigue contributed to a trucking accident that injured you or a loved one, you should seek help immediately from the experienced legal team at Kraft & Associates, P.C. For nearly 40 years, we have protected the rights of truck accident victims and their families in Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding areas in Texas. We will know how to immediately investigate your case and pursue all compensation you are due.

What is Truck Driver Fatigue?

Truck driver fatigue occurs when a driver is simply too tired to perform the many tasks that a driver must handle in order to operate a rig safely. The driver may be exhausted because the driver has been working for too long. The driver may also be drowsy from use of a medication.

A fatigued driver is likely to skip inspections and repairs. When operating the rig, the driver may lack the ability to make quick decisions, take evasive actions and adjust to traffic, road and weather conditions. In fact, because fatigue so greatly impairs a driver’s mental and physical faculties, some believe that fatigued driving is as dangerous as drunk driving.

Truck accidents caused by driver fatigue are a serious problem in Texas and throughout the country. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that “impairment,” including impairment by fatigue, was the fourth-leading driver-related factor in fatal truck crashes.

Do Trucking Rules Prohibit Fatigued Driving?

Because driver fatigue is such a serious safety problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has enacted rules that limit drivers’ hours. These are commonly called “hours-of-service” rules. Under these rules, for instance, a trucker can drive no more than 11 hours – and only then after the trucker has taken 10 consecutive hours off duty.

To show compliance with these rules, drivers must log their hours. The failure to comply with the rules and logbook requirements can indicate a trucking company’s disregard for safety. In fact, in many cases, trucking companies actually force their drivers to violate hours-of-service regulations and to falsify their logbooks.

If it can be established that a truck driver and/or trucking company violated the hours-of-service rules, it can amount to negligence per se, or negligence as a matter of law. In the face of such evidence, a driver and/or company would be highly likely to admit legal responsibility.

Why Does Fatigued Driving Matter in Your Truck Accident Claim?

In order to recover damages after a truck accident, you must establish that the trucker and/or trucking company was negligent. Driving while overly fatigued and/or falling asleep at the wheel is an example of such negligence. The driver’s fatigue can also explain other types of careless or reckless driving that the drive engaged in to cause your wreck such as:

  • Speeding
  • Following too closely
  • Failing to yield
  • Drifting across lanes
  • Overcorrecting
  • Making an improperly wide turn.

By establishing the driver’s fatigue, in this sense, you can establish your claim for damages, including damages that cover your past and future medical bills, lost income, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress and more. You may also establish that the trucking company knew or reasonably should have known that the driver who caused your crash was prone to fatigued driving but failed to properly supervise the driver and address the issue.

How Can Your Lawyer Establish Driver Fatigue in Your Truck Accident Case?

Our attorneys at Kraft & Associates know how important it is to take prompt steps to preserve evidence after a truck accident. For instance, we can immediately put a trucking company on notice and demand that the company preserve and provide copies of all driver logbooks. These records should show how long a driver was on the road before your crash took place.

However, due to problems that often arise with logbook evidence, we will look to other evidence, too, including:

  • Toll records
  • Weight station records
  • Cell phone records
  • Fuel and gas receipts
  • Drug prescription / medical history.

It is important to note that a trucking company can be held liable for the negligence of one of its drivers. It can also be liable for its own negligence. For instance, a company may have exposed others on the road to a dangerous driver by hiring a driver without an adequate background check or by failing to properly train and supervise its drivers.

Get Help from an Experienced Dallas Truck Accident Attorney

At Kraft & Associates, our legal team investigates and litigates accidents involving all types of commercial trucks, including tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, box trucks, dump trucks and delivery vans. We represent victims in truck accident cases as well as families who have lost loved ones in accidents involving large commercial motor vehicles.

You should seek legal advice immediately after a truck accident – before you discuss the matter with an insurance adjuster and before you sign anything. Let the law offices of Kraft & Associates advise you about your rights and your legal options after an accident caused by a negligent trucker such as a truck driver who was overly fatigued.

We are an established and professional law firm with friendly lawyers and staff who are easy to talk to. We serve clients in Dallas, Fort Worth and throughout surrounding areas in Texas. We charge nothing for our legal services unless we secure a recovery for you. To learn more, call or reach us online today for a free consultation.