If you were the victim of an accident involving a large truck with a fatigued driver, you need a truck accident lawyer. Contact DeMayo Law Offices immediately to discuss your case. Commercial trucks are significantly larger than the average passenger vehicle. The weight difference is immense, with the potential to cause massive destruction to the smaller car during a crash. The car occupants typically suffer more severe injuries than the truck driver.
A total of 36,560 fatalities resulted from motor vehicle accidents in 2019. The number of deaths involving large trucks was 4,136. Additionally, of all accidents reported to the police every year, around 100,000 involve a fatigued driver. The North Carolina driver fatigue accident lawyers of DeMayo Law Offices can help you seek the financial compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages and other losses associated with the accident. The truck driver or trucking company should be held liable for the physical, emotional, and financial harm they caused.
Call DeMayo Law Offices at (877) 333-1000 for a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you after your truck driver fatigue accident in North Carolina.
How to Determine Liability After an Accident With A Fatigued Truck Driver
When you get hurt in a truck accident, pursuing compensation from the truck driver could prove to be a challenge. You might think they should be financially responsible for your injuries since they chose to get behind the wheel feeling tired. However, the trucking company could be just as much to blame for the accident. DeMayo Law Offices will review your case’s details to determine who was at fault for the crash so we can recover compensation from the appropriate party.
Trucking companies are typically liable for truck accidents when they fail to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. Some of these regulations are:
- Perform background checks on prospective drivers
- Test employees randomly for alcohol and drugs
- Confirm all drivers have a valid commercial driver’s license
- Provide ongoing training
- Perform an independent investigation of all accidents involving their vehicle fleet
- Routinely inspect, maintain, and repair each commercial truck
- Review driver logs for compliance with maintenance, driving hours, and other requirements
Truck drivers could be responsible for an accident if they choose to get behind the wheel feeling fatigued. Fatigued driving is a common problem in the trucking industry. These drivers face long hours on the road and typically get paid for every mile they drive or by the route. This could result in some truckers taking unnecessary risks. Instead of taking the required breaks, they push through the fatigue to get a higher paycheck because of more miles driven or additional routes run.
A particular FMCSA standard aims to prevent fatigued trucking employees from operating their trucks. The hours of service regulations are:
- Spend a maximum of eleven hours driving after a ten-hour off-duty period.
- Take a break for at least 30 minutes after a consecutive eight hours of driving.
- Stop driving after spending a maximum of fourteen consecutive hours on duty.
- The driving limit for seven consecutive days is 60 hours, 70 hours for eight consecutive days.
There are various reasons a fatigued truck driver could end up behind the wheel of a commercial truck. When an accident occurs, they could face civil liability or their employer could be at fault for using negligent hiring practices. Either way, you might be entitled to compensation in an insurance claim or lawsuit, and our North Carolina fatigued driver accident lawyers can help.
Possible Compensation Recoverable in An Insurance Claim
Fatigued truck drivers can lose control of their vehicle and barrel into small cars, causing injuries and fatalities to other drivers and passengers. Many of our clients suffer multiple emotional, physical, and financial losses. You have the right to pursue a monetary award that compensates you for losses like these:
- Loss of income and earning capacity
- Mental anguish
- Past and future medical bills
- Physical impairment
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Out of pocket expenses
After you file an insurance claim, the insurance company might consider specific factors associated with the accident to determine a settlement offer. These factors might include:
- Type and severity of the injury
- Evidence proving the truck driver or trucking company was at fault
- Amount of insurance coverage on the policy
- Psychological or emotional impact of the crash
- Duration of the recovery period
- Disruptions of the injury to daily routine
- Physical or mental limitations inhibiting the ability to work
Parties That May Be Liable For A Fatigued Driving Truck Accident
North Carolina uses the fault system when determining liability after an accident. That means the person or entity at fault becomes financially responsible for the victim’s injuries. If the tired truck driver or their employer caused the accident you were in, you could file a claim for compensation.
Federal regulations require trucking companies to purchase liability insurance with minimum coverage limits. If any of their drivers cause an accident, their insurance company should cover the injured person’s past and future losses. The required liability limits for truck drivers are:
- $300,000 for trucks weighing under 10,001 pounds and transporting non-hazardous cargo
- $750,000 for trucks carrying non-hazardous cargo and weighing over 10,000 pounds
- $1 million for the transportation of oil and hazardous materials
- $5 million for other hazardous freight
DeMayo Law Offices has decades of experience handling insurance claims. We can request a copy of the trucking company’s insurance policy to determine the available coverage and file a claim on your behalf. Our goal is to negotiate for a settlement amount that adequately covers your total losses. You should not have to pay for anything yourself. If the insurance company refuses to settle for an amount we believe is fair, we have the resources to pursue compensation in a lawsuit.
Filing A Lawsuit In North Carolina
According to North Carolina statute § 1-52, there is a three-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against someone who causes an injury. This is a strict deadline you must follow if you want to seek compensation from the truck driver or trucking company through the court system. After three years pass, you will likely lose your right to sue for the losses you suffered in the fatigued driver accident.
Time is of the essence in situations like this. You might think three years is more than enough time to prepare your legal case, however, unforeseen circumstances could delay the process and cause you to miss a crucial deadline. It’s especially important if you plan to file an insurance claim first. Some claims take years to resolve. If the insurance company ultimately decides to deny your claim, you won’t have the opportunity to file a lawsuit if the statute already passed.
You can seek all the same losses in a lawsuit as you would in an insurance claim. However, you must understand the pure contributory negligence rule used in injury cases in North Carolina. That rule could bar you from recovering compensation if a jury determines that your actions were partly to blame for the accident. Even if you only share 1% fault, you wouldn’t be entitled to a monetary award in a lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Laws In North Carolina
If your loved one died in an accident involving a fatigued truck driver, you might be able to pursue a wrongful death case to compensate for various losses. North Carolina defines wrongful death as a death caused by another person’s neglect, default, or wrongful act. The statute of limitations for filing this type of lawsuit is two years. The two-year timeframe would begin on the date of your loved one’s death.
Only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file the lawsuit or surviving family members. The monetary award is meant to compensate those surviving family members and the estate for any losses suffered due to the fatal accident. Relatives that commonly serve as the personal representative are surviving spouses, adult children, or parents.
The losses you can pursue in a wrongful death lawsuit should adequately compensate for the financial, physical, and emotional harm you and the deceased were forced to endure. They include:
- Lost income
- Cost of burial and funeral expenses
- Medical expenses associated with the deceased’s injury
- Loss of companionship, guidance, care, assistance, protection, and society provided by the deceased
- Pain and suffering the deceased experienced before death
You might also be allowed to pursue punitive damages. Fatigued driving is reckless and puts other people’s safety and lives at risk. Punitive damages are a form of punishment against the truck driver, not compensation for your various losses. The jury might consider awarding punitive damages to you if you can provide clear and convincing evidence that the truck driver acted with willful or wanton conduct, malice, or fraud and that those elements were a factor in causing your injury.
DeMayo Law Offices Will Fight for Justice
Our North Carolina driver fatigue accident lawyers have over 150 years of collective legal experience. We’ve been representing accident victims since opening DeMayo Law Offices in 1992. We use aggressive tactics and all the resources at our disposal to get our clients the maximum compensation they need and deserve. We care about the people in our community and believe everyone should have an opportunity to seek justice after an accident and hold the at-fault party liable.
If you sustained injuries in an accident with a fatigued truck driver and need legal assistance from an award-winning law firm, call DeMayo Law Offices today at (877) 333-1000.