The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the number of hours that interstate truck drivers are allowed to operate to make sure that they do not drive while they are tired. However, people are injured and killed each year due to truck driver fatigue. If you are involved in a crash that was caused by a sleeping or drowsy driver, the California truck accident lawyers at The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC may be able to help you bring a claim. Truck accident cases may be especially challenging because trucking companies and insurers may be combative when a victim is trying to collect information that shows that the driver was negligent or working beyond the hours of service. Our principal, Travis G. Black, previously worked in law enforcement and insurance, and he can put those insights to work for you in a truck accident case.
Bringing a Claim Based on Truck Driver Fatigue
Fatigue is a leading factor in commercial truck crashes. The FMCSA has hours of service rules for interstate truck drivers that require that they take certain rest breaks and make use of a “restart” rest period. California also has hours of service rules. These rules are supposed to ensure that truck drivers are alert while operating large and heavy commercial vehicles. Although many truck drivers abide by these rules, some do not. They are supposed to keep logbooks showing their compliance, but in some cases, these logbooks are deliberately falsified, and the trucking company looks the other way.
A truck driver who fails to follow the hours of service rules is more likely to cause an accident. If you can establish that a truck driver failed to follow the hours of service rules and thereby caused your injuries, you may be able to prove negligence. For example, if a truck driver was too fatigued to react appropriately to an emergency, and as a result, the truck jackknifed and the trailer hit your car, you likely can establish negligence.
You may also have a claim against the trucking company based on truck driver fatigue. Trucking companies may be held vicariously (indirectly) liable for an employee’s negligent acts performed in the course and scope of their employment. The negligence of a driver who drives while fatigued and causes an accident while delivering goods for an employer, for example, may subject an employer to vicarious liability.
Trucking companies are supposed to supervise and keep track of drivers’ hours and their logbooks detailing maintenance and hours of service. Some trucking companies, however, encourage truck drivers to defy the hours of service rules or try to remove their own accountability by hiring drivers as independent contractors and disclaiming responsibility for them. When a trucking company fails to make sure that drivers are keeping accurate, honest, and compliant logbooks, they may be liable for negligent supervision or retention.
Enlist an Experienced Folsom Truck Accident Lawyer
Too often, fatigued truck drivers fail to notice that they are drifting into another lane or that they need to brake quickly as a result of an emergency on the road. The California personal injury lawyers at The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC has experience handling truck driver fatigue cases on behalf of accident victims. For a free consultation with a Folsom personal injury lawyer, call The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC at (916) 634-0729 or contact us online.