Truck Driver Fatigue
Large trucks play an important role in transporting cargo across the country, but they can create a dangerous environment on our nation’s highways. Due to their large size, they pose a greater risk than smaller vehicles. Unfortunately, that risk is increased when truckers push themselves too hard and drive while fatigued. Drivers and the companies that employ them should be held accountable when they violate safety regulations regarding hours of service. The motor vehicle collision attorneys at Briggs & Wholey have nearly 30 years of experience representing accident victims in Maine. If you have been injured as the result of a crash caused by truck driver fatigue, let us help you seek the compensation you deserve.Federal Regulations Governing Tractor-Trailers
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), in 2012 nearly 4,000 people lost their lives in accidents involving large trucks, defined as those weighing more than 10,000 pounds. An additional 104,000 individuals were hurt in these collisions.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) is charged with regulating motor carriers. The FMCSA regulations provide detailed requirements for the time a commercial driver may be on the road. These complex rules limit the total number of hours driven per week and also require break and rest periods. Under most circumstances, the driver of a vehicle carrying cargo may only drive after having 10 consecutive hours off duty and may only drive during a period of 14 consecutive hours. During those 14 hours, the driver may only drive a total of 11 hours. A trucker is not allowed to stay behind the wheel for more than eight hours without taking at least a 30-minute break.
Companies that do not operate seven days per week must have their drivers on a six-day cycle during which no driver can be on duty for more than 60 hours. Companies that do operate vehicles every day of the week must use an an eight-day cycle during which no driver can be on duty more than 70 hours. A cycle may end with an off-duty period of at least 34 consecutive hours that includes two periods between 1 A.M. and 5 A.M. Drivers are required to keep detailed records of their time.
There are some exceptions, and the rules for drivers of vehicles carrying passengers are slightly different than those for truckers. An experienced attorney can evaluate the facts to determine what regulations apply to the driver in your case.File a Negligence Claim to Assert Your Right to Compensation
Lawsuits arising from an accident caused by truck driver fatigue will usually be based on negligence. To prove this type of claim, the victim must show that the driver breached the duty to operate the vehicle with reasonable care and that the breach was the proximate cause of the victim’s injuries and damages. A violation of the regulations could show that the trucker should have known that it was not safe for him or her to be on the road after a certain number of hours. This may satisfy the breach element of a negligence claim. It is also important to note that a fatigued driver may be negligent by driving while overly tired even if he or she complied with the regulations.
If an injured person was 50% or more at fault, he or she unfortunately will not be able to recover any damages. If the victim had less than half of the responsibility for the accident, by contrast, any compensation award will be reduced by the amount the jury determines is equitable and just.
A person hurt in a collision caused by a fatigued driver may be entitled to recover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. The personal representative of a person killed in a truck accident may bring a wrongful death claim and recover compensation for pecuniary injuries, medical expenses, funeral expenses, the loss of comfort, society and companionship of the deceased, and the conscious suffering of the deceased before he or she passed. Generally, a negligence claim must be brought within six years in Maine, while a wrongful death lawsuit must be brought within two years.Explore Your Options After a Truck Accident with a Maine Attorney
The regulations that apply to commercial drivers are complex, but an experienced truck accident lawyer can interpret the rules and evaluate the evidence after a crash on a Maine highway. The attorneys at Briggs & Wholey are ready to conduct a thorough investigation of your case. Call (888) 596-1099 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We have assisted injured individuals in Portland, Bangor, and throughout the state.