Drowsy drivers are one of the most significant dangers motorists face when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. According to a 2018 study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, driver fatigue plays a role in more than 9 percent of all accidents and nearly 11 percent of higher-severity crashes. Research has shown that drowsy driving is surprisingly similar to drunk driving—both slow reaction times, make drivers less able to pay attention to the road and negatively affect judgment.
While any drowsy driving crash can lead to property damage, injuries and even fatalities, these types of crashes tend to be downright catastrophic when the fatigued driver is a commercial trucker behind the wheel of an up to 80,000-pound semi-truck or big-rig. Unfortunately, the potential for drowsy truck drivers to cause accidents is greater than most people realize. For example, in a recent study conducted by the Sleep Medicine Division of the Harvard School of Medicine, nearly half of the commercial truck drivers who participated admitted to having dozed off while driving.
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by a drowsy commercial trucker, you may be entitled to compensation. Here's what you need to know.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
The injuries sustained in a truck accident caused by a drowsy driver can be extremely serious and may require long-term treatment, the costs of which can add up quickly. Common truck accident injuries include:
- Broken or crushed bones
- Head injuries, such as concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries, which may result in temporary or permanent partial or total paralysis
- Back injuries
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- Limb loss or amputation
Truck Crash Liability
After being hurt in a truck accident caused by a drowsy truck driver, victims are often eager to determine who might be liable for their injuries and other losses. The answer can vary, depending on the circumstances of the case. In most cases, the accident victim will be able to file a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit against the drowsy driver. In some cases, the victim may even have grounds to file a claim against the trucking company the trucker drove for if:
- The company was negligent in their hiring
- The company provided insufficient training
- The company encouraged the driver to skirt federal safety rules or falsify log books
- The company pushed an unrealistic, demanding schedule that couldn't have been accomplished without violating federal safety regulations
Potential Damages in Truck Accident Cases
In Delaware, victims injured in truck accidents caused by fatigued drivers can seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Examples of potentially available economic damages include:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses for accident-related injuries
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
Available non-economic damages may include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Reduced quality of life
- Scarring or disfigurement
FMCSA Hours-of-Service Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented hours-of-service regulations to help keep dangerously drowsy truck drivers off the road. The regulations specify just how long property-carrying and passenger-carrying commercial truck drivers can work during a shift, and also mandates breaks and rest periods. Sadly, not all commercial drivers take these federal safety regulations seriously.
Were You Injured in a Truck Accident?
Being injured in a truck accident caused by a drowsy commercial driver can be devastating. After such an accident, protecting your right to recovery is of paramount importance. The skilled attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you understand your rights and options so that you can make informed decisions about your truck accident case. Contact the Morris James Personal Injury Group today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation initial review of your truck accident case.