People who have been struck by a careless trucker have rights to assert. To start the legal process, call the Stuart truck accident lawyers at Donaldson & Weston.
Motor Vehicle Collision Lawyers Serving the Stuart Area
Sharing the road with 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles is difficult enough under ideal circumstances. When truck driver fatigue becomes a factor, the results can be tragic. According to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), this is the leading cause of the nearly 4,000 fatalities that occur annually in big rig crashes across the country. “Driving tired,” as the DOT calls it, is clearly a major problem on American roads, especially the interstate highways where most truckers spend the majority of their working hours. If you have been involved in a crash that you believe may have been caused by driver fatigue, the Stuart truck accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston can help you pursue monetary damages from the responsible party.
Holding a Trucker Liable for Driving While Fatigued
Fatigued driving poses obvious risks, such as shorter attention spans, longer reaction times, the possibility of falling asleep at the wheel, and the need to engage in distracting behavior in order to remain awake. Too many truck drivers and trucking companies give in to the temptation to push past the limits of an acceptable work schedule in order to increase wages and profits. This puts others at risk.
Because of this, the federal government and some state governments have enacted “hours of service” rules for professional truck operators. Mandatory rest breaks, restart periods, recovery times, and maximum allowable hours per week are included in these rules. Truckers who disregard these limits, as well as truck companies that encourage or require truckers to do so, may be held liable when a fatigued driver causes a motor vehicle collision and harms an innocent motorist who has the misfortune to be traveling in the vicinity.
Truck accident cases, including those caused by a trucker’s fatigue, proceed under a branch of civil tort law known as negligence. To be negligent means that someone has either failed to do something that a reasonably prudent person would have done under similar circumstances or that the person has done something that a reasonable person would not have done. There are four parts to a negligence claim: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Duty may be established in several ways, including references to statutes or regulations like the hours of service rules for truckers. A breach of duty is typically a factual issue that, in trucker fatigue cases, may be proven by references to log books and other evidence of a trucker’s actual working hours. Causation requires the plaintiff to show that, but for the defendant’s breach of duty, the accident would not have happened. Damages may account for both economic and non-economic forms of harm, ranging from lost income, medical expenses, and property damage to pain and suffering or scarring and disfigurement.
Since trucker fatigue cases may involve multiple parties and claims, the wise course of action is to seek counsel with an experienced truck accident lawyer in Stuart early in the process so that the accident may be carefully investigated and all procedural deadlines may be met.