If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a drowsy truck driver, contact DeMayo Law Offices. Our Charlotte truck accident attorneys will help you recover the full compensation you deserve.
Truck drivers work long hauls, driving for many hours at a time. The pressure of meeting tight deadlines and strict quotas can put an enormous strain on them. The result is that many drivers resort to negligent and dangerous behavior, including driving while fatigued.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that driver fatigue causes at least 13% of all commercial trucking accidents. These types of large truck accidents have severe consequences for the motorists caught in their path. Many studies link the effects of driving drowsy to those of drunk driving. Accidents involving drowsy truck drivers usually have serious consequences and cause life-threatening injuries.
At DeMayo Law Offices, we are committed to helping victims of drowsy drivers get the justice and the compensation they deserve after an accident. There is no excuse for risking the lives of people on North Carolina roads just because of a deadline.
Our team of skilled lawyers can review your case and help you sort through your legal options for recovering compensation and holding the negligent driver or company accountable. The initial consultation is free. Call our office today at (704) 333-1000 to set up your consultation. Let us help you begin the process of healing and rebuilding your life.
What Is Truck Driver Fatigue?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health label driver fatigue as a condition in which an individual lacks the appropriate amount of sleep.
The unhealthy level of fatigue from physical or mental overexertion results in the severe impairment of the body’s performance, much like alcohol impairment. Long hours on the road can mean that truck drivers skip essential tasks, such as sleeping, resting, eating, and drinking. These are all factors that can contribute to fatigue when driving. Driving at night or any unusual hours of the day may also cause fatigue by interrupting the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle.
A survey conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that the most prominent causes of driver fatigue among truck drivers were unhealthy lifestyles, long work hours, and sleeping issues or sleep disorders.
Skipping a meal or refusing to stop for a nap on a long stretch may not seem like a big deal when trying to meet a deadline, but there are often enormous consequences from sleep deprivation, low blood-sugar levels, and dehydration. This has real impacts on both body and mind, including:
- Lack of coordination
- Slowed reaction time
- Poor concentration
- Poor judgment and critical thinking skills
- Memory lapse
- Vision problems, including tunnel vision and double vision
- Changes in mood
- Falling asleep behind the wheel
Common Injuries Suffered in a Driver Fatigue Accident
Driver fatigue accidents can be particularly devastating, even fatal. A fatigued driver reacts much the same way as an intoxicated driver.
In fact, The National Sleep Foundation found that staying awake for a stretch of 18 hours makes a driver behave as if they have a blood-alcohol concentration of .05 percent. This results in a slowing of both cognitive and physical abilities. A fatigued driver can’t think fast enough to judge road conditions or dangerous situations, and their bodies can’t react quickly enough to compensate for those changes.
A fatigued driver is also at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel. A driver asleep at the wheel will barrel into unsuspecting cars at full-speed, or even go the wrong way. Unfortunately, the most serious consequences for these accidents typically fall on the victim of the passenger car.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 72% of those killed in large truck collisions are the occupants of the other vehicle. Victims that survive a serious crash often have to deal with serious and life-altering injuries. Some of the most common truck accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Other head, neck, and spine trauma
- Fractured bones
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Wrongful death
What Does a Driver Fatigue Accident Investigation Look Like?
Any investigation of a truck accident is going to be inherently complicated, often much more so than a normal car or motorcycle accident. This is partly because of the complexities involved with the trucking industry.
Some of the most common elements of a fatigued truck driver investigation can include:
- Obtaining statements from witnesses
- Gathering law enforcement reports on the accident
- Collecting employment records of the driver involved, which could also include gathering information on the trucking company’s hiring and training practices
- Collecting pertinent driving and training records about the truck driver
- Securing an independent accident reconstruction expert
- Gathering digital evidence, including the truck’s black box, dashboard camera footage, video surveillance, GPS data, and even cellular phone records from the time of the accident
North Carolina Laws on Driver Fatigue
Both North Carolina state laws and federal laws come into play when a fatigued truck driver causes a serious accident.
One of the most restrictive laws governing personal injury accidents in North Carolina is known as the contributory negligence rule. This regulation is only found in a handful of states. It stipulates that any victim who bears even the smallest fraction of responsibility for an accident will be prohibited from collecting financial compensation.
Even if a drowsy truck driver was 99 percent responsible for causing an accident, if the trucking company or their lawyers successfully attaches 1 percent blame to the victim, that person will receive nothing in the way of compensation.
The second law that can come into play after a truck accident in North Carolina is the state’s statute of limitations. This law gives victims three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in court. This may seem like plenty of time. Unfortunately, negotiating a settlement with the truck driver or trucking company’s insurance provider may use up much of that time.
If, after a long negotiation process, the insurance company offers a settlement that is too low or otherwise unacceptable, or the insurer does not want to negotiate in good faith, it may be too late to seek other legal options for recovering compensation. Having an attorney on your side from the first day of your accident means that you can keep your options open.
An attorney will aggressively negotiate with a trucking company’s insurer to get a fair compensation package. They will also keep in mind the statute of limitations, and be ready to file a lawsuit before the deadline if a resolution with the insurer is not likely.
There are also federal laws that apply to trucking companies and the people that they employ.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recognizes the serious problem that drowsy or fatigued drivers pose to other motorists. That is why they set limits on the number of hours that a truck driver may continuously operate a vehicle.
Property-carrying drivers are only allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off-duty. Drivers are also required to take a 30-minute rest break when they have been on the road for eight cumulative hours.
In addition, truck drivers may not drive after 60-70 hours on duty in a 7-8 day stretch. Similar restrictions are put on passenger-carrying drivers as well. If a driver is found to have violated these rules, or a trucking company has forced a driver to violate these rules, there can be steep penalties. This information is also important to a victim’s potential insurance claim case or lawsuit.
Contact an Experienced North Carolina Truck Accident Attorney
Trucking companies employ teams of lawyers and insurers to protect their business interests in the event of a crash or serious accident. These individuals work on behalf of the trucking company and are looking out for their best interests — not yours.
You may begin to feel coerced into accepting whatever offer they put on the table. They are counting on the fact that you have bills to pay and feel financially stretched because of the accident. They will try to use your anxiety to convince you to sign away your legal rights and accept a fraction of what you deserve.
Don’t fall for their tactics and don’t let them take advantage of you because you are vulnerable. Call the DeMayo Law Offices office to speak with an aggressive truck accident attorney who will fight to protect your legal rights.
If you or a loved one are suffering because a drowsy driver caused an accident, don’t wait to get legal representation on your side. The trucking company has lawyers working to protect their profits.
Get a lawyer who will protect you while seeking the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. Contact the team at DeMayo Law Offices to get the advice you need about your legal options. We offer a free initial consultation to review the circumstances of your case and let you know how we can help.
Call (704) 333-1000 today and show the drowsy driver and their company that you won’t be bullied into settling for less than you deserve.