There’s a good chance every driver has felt fatigued on the road at least once in their lives. It’s dangerous for anyone to drive while fatigued. If you’re operating an 80,000-pound truck, however, driving while fatigued can result in a catastrophic accident involving severe injuries or fatalities. If you were the victim of an accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, contact Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C., and we’ll assist you with your legal case.
People in the trucking industry often feel fatigued during their driving shifts. They’re on the road for many hours and travel hundreds of miles in a single day. They also face deadlines and may feel pressure from their employers to complete their duties ahead of schedule, which results in unsafe, drowsy driving.
Truck driver fatigue cases are especially complicated, but our skilled truck accident attorneys know the trucking laws inside and out, and we know how to build airtight cases on behalf of truck accident victims. Call (770) 205-8827 today to speak with one of our Alpharetta truck driver fatigue lawyers to learn about your legal options.
The Risks Associated With Fatigued Driving
One in five crashes involving a fatigued driver leads to a fatality. When you don’t get enough sleep, it affects your driving abilities the same way drinking alcohol does. Truck drivers are awake and on the road for more consecutive hours than workers in most industries. They’re controlling a large truck that weighs tens of thousands of pounds and carrying cargo. Colliding with another vehicle can cause traumatic damage.
When you’re involved in a truck accident, there are various factors at play. The initial impact can crumple your car like a piece of paper, pinning you inside. Subsequent impacts from cargo spilling out of the truck can result in further harm. If the trucker is carrying hazardous materials, you could suffer burns or inhale toxic gases. There’s a greater risk of death in this type of situation.
Fatigued truck drivers are more likely to exhibit some of the following behaviors that could cause an accident:
- Failing to obey traffic signals and signs
- Difficulty keeping eyes open or staying awake
- Crossing the centerline
- Slower reaction time
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Failing to check blind spots
- Reduced motor skills
- Lack of coordination
- Drifting into another vehicle or onto the shoulder
- Poor judgment
Since commercial trucks sit higher off the ground and hold more weight than most other vehicles, the damage they cause during a crash can put anyone’s life at risk. The most common injuries include:
- Loss of limb
- Spinal cord injuries or paralysis
- Crush injuries
- Broken bones
- Lacerations, burns, and wounds
- Traumatic brain injury
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
Regulations to Prevent Fatigued Driving
Everyone in the trucking industry must follow specific regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In particular, the hours of service rules limit driving shifts to prevent truckers from fatigued driving. Drivers must spend:
- A maximum of 11 consecutive hours driving after spending at least 10 hours off duty
- A maximum of 14 consecutive hours on duty, following an off-duty period of 10 hours
- At least 30-minutes on break after the first 8 hours of driving
- No more than 60 on-duty hours over seven consecutive days and 70 on-duty hours over eight consecutive days
- A minimum of 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and two separate hours off duty, in the sleeper berth, or a combination of both
How the Fault System Impacts Liability
If a truck driver causes an accident because they’re feeling fatigued, liability will probably fall on their shoulders. Under the fault system, the party responsible for a crash is automatically liable for resulting injuries and associated losses.
Georgia law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance with minimum limits of liability. Bodily injury and property damage coverages provide compensation for an accident victim’s expenses. Due to the increased likelihood of severe damage after a truck accident, truck drivers tend to have insurance with higher limits.
The recommended minimum liability limit for vehicles transporting non-hazardous items is $750,000. Coverage goes up to as much as $5 million when the cargo contains hazardous materials.
If you sustain injuries in a truck driver fatigue accident, you could file a liability insurance claim for compensation for your damages.
What Are Damages?
Economic damages are expenses incurred after an accident. Non-economic damages are losses associated with an injury, such as physical pain. When you file a claim, the goal is to receive a settlement that covers your total damages. Examples of damages available after a truck accident include:
- Medical bills
- Car repair or replacement expense
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Out of pocket costs
- Rental vehicle
- Mental or emotional trauma
- Wrongful death benefits
Medical bills and lost wages include documentation to calculate the total value of economic damages. Non-economic damages are challenging to monetize because things like pain and suffering are subjective. Insurance adjusters will consider various factors to decide a fair number for injured parties, such as:
- Type of injury and its severity
- Impact on daily routine
- Liability coverage listed on the insurance policy
- Car repair estimates and bills
- The total cost of economic damages
- Necessary future medical care for permanent injuries or disability
- Emotional or psychological suffering due to the accident
- Duration of the recovery period
- Inability to return to work or earn pre-injury income
- Availability of evidence proving truck driver fatigue caused the crash
- Statements from friends and family who witnessed the effect of the injuries
An Alpharetta Truck Driver Fatigue Lawyer Could Increase the Value of Your Case
Truck accident cases require resources that most people don’t have. Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. has the experience, knowledge, and skills to build a solid legal case and locate crucial evidence. We can file a claim on your behalf and negotiate for a full and fair settlement from the insurance company.
When we perform our investigation, we’ll work to obtain crucial evidence, such as:
- Truck driver’s driving and break logs
- Security video footage
- Police crash report
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Available insurance policies
- Vehicle damage reports
- Accident scene photos
- Copies of your medical records
- Trucking company policies and procedures
Insurance companies always try to get out of paying someone’s claim. They look for any excuse to deny the claim or provide a lowball settlement offer. We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen. If necessary, we’ll use aggressive tactics to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
Georgia Negligence Laws
Negligence is the failure to minimize the risk of harm to another person by using a reasonable degree of care to act or not act in a certain way. It’s a legal theory most people use when preparing a personal injury lawsuit.
If you want to sue the truck driver, you must prove the following five elements of negligence existed at the time of the crash:
- Duty: The truck driver owed you a duty of care to behave in a way that would prevent you from harm;
- Breach of duty: They breached their duty of care;
- Cause in fact: If it weren’t for their actions, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt;
- Proximate cause: Their breach was the direct cause of your injury; and
- Damages: Your injuries resulted in damages.
There’s a deadline you must follow in Georgia if you want to file a lawsuit against another party. The statute of limitations is two years. That means you have two years from the accident date to sue the truck driver for operating their vehicle while fatigued. It’s a clear form of negligence, and you have the right to hold them responsible for their actions.
In filing a lawsuit, you can pursue compensation for your economic and non-economic damages. There are also punitive damages, which are supposed to punish the at-fault individual instead of compensating the victim’s losses. It’s only available if you can prove with clear and convincing evidence that the truck driver acted with malice, wantonness, willful misconduct, oppression, fraud, or indifference towards the consequences.
Choose Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C.
Our Alpharetta truck accident lawyers understand the stress you’re feeling. Truck accidents typically cause debilitating injuries that require months of medical treatment. You might be struggling to pay all associated expenses. When you’re in pain and trying to recover, you don’t want to deal with intimidating insurance companies. We’ll relieve your burden and handle everything on your behalf.
When you hire us, we’ll open a thorough investigation into the cause of the crash, collect sufficient evidence, and fight for the justice you deserve. Our team has experience with insurance claims and lawsuits. Whichever legal path you choose, you can depend on us to guide you through it. We’ll be there to provide support and help you move past this challenging time in your life.
At the law offices of Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C., we know the importance of dependable and affordable legal services. We take cases on contingency, which means there’s no upfront fees or costs. You won’t have to pay us unless we recover compensation for you. If we lose your case, there won’t be any legal fees.
If a fatigued truck driver caused your accident and injuries, call (770) 205-8827 for a free consultation. One of our Alpharetta truck driver fatigue lawyers will be happy to meet with you and discuss how we can help.