Truck Driver Falls Asleep at Wheel
State and federal regulations have been put in place to prevent drivers from exhausting themselves while on duty. Nonetheless, driver fatigue remains one of the biggest risks for causing truck accidents. Sadly, the truck accident lawyers at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. are far too familiar with the serious consequences of fatigued driving. We represented a client whose vehicle was struck head-on by a truck driver with a history of medical issues who was overly fatigued and crossed the center line. We were able to recover $9 million on her behalf to help provide the care she will need for the rest of her life after this tragic accident.
Why Truck Drivers Fall Asleep at the Wheel
Truck drivers often spend long hours each day on duty and on the road. Regulations limit the amount of hours truck drivers may spend on duty or behind the wheel driving. Generally, semi-truck drivers may not drive past 14 consecutive hours on duty or more than 11 total hours in a day. Drivers must also take breaks after spending several hours driving. Truck drivers are also limited in the number of hours they can spend on duty in a seven- or eight-day period.
Unfortunately, some semi-truck drivers intentionally or inadvertently exceed these limits. Truck drivers must often meet strict delivery schedules for customers, putting themselves at risk for fatigue. Even when drivers observe the limitations, truck driving requires long hours and can wear out drivers.
When drivers spend days at a time out on the road, they may not get the quality sleep they need each night to stay alert and awake the following day. That also puts them in a position to become drowsy or fatigued towards the end of a long day.
Possible Damages Involved in Drowsy Driving Claims
If a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel and crashes into your vehicle, you may be entitled to pursue financial compensation for losses arising from your injuries, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages or income
- Lost earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced enjoyment or quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Vehicle or other property damage
Under certain circumstances, you may also be entitled to an award of punitive damages if the truck driver and trucking companies engaged in reckless, outrageous, or shocking behavior that caused the accident, such as intentionally disregarding hours-of-service limits or continuing to drive after knowingly having fallen asleep at the wheel earlier in the day or night.
What to Do If You Are Injured by a Truck Driver Who Was Fatigued or Fell Asleep at the Wheel
If you are injured in a truck crash caused by a truck driver sleeping at the wheel, you should remember to:
- Get the name, license information, and employer contact information from the truck driver.
- Seek medical attention to diagnose any injuries you sustained from the accident.
- Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and attend all follow-up appointments to show you’re doing everything you can to recover.
- Gather all documentation related to the truck accident and your injuries, such as medical records, medical receipts, pay stubs, bank statements, and vehicle repair estimates.
- Avoid posting any updates on social media, which could potentially be taken out of context by the other side and used against you.
- Contact a truck driving accident attorney to begin the process of investigating the accident and pursuing your claim for compensation.
How an Attorney Can Help
After you’ve been involved in a truck accident where you suspect the truck driver may have been drowsy or fatigued prior to the crash, a skilled attorney can help by:
- Starting an accident investigation, including filing requests with the trucking company to preserve critical evidence, such as driver logs, dispatch reports, or in-cab camera footage that shows the driver’s behavior
- Working with experts to determine the true cause of the accident and identify the party or parties liable for your injuries and losses
- Filing your claims for compensation with the trucking companies and their insurers
- Aggressively pursuing fair and full compensation in settlement negotiations or, if necessary, at trial
If you have been injured in a drowsy or fatigued driving truck accident, contact the experienced trial attorneys of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. When you’re facing life’s toughest trials, we’re here to help. We offer free consultations for you to discuss your legal rights and options with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.