Truck Driver Fatigue
A common cause of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Truck drivers are supposed to follow hours of service rules, but unfortunately they often violate these rules, and sometimes they are encouraged to do so by their employers. A driver who must spend long hours behind the wheel may fall asleep while driving or become more easily distracted. If you are struck by a careless trucker and suspect that driver fatigue is to blame, consult the Detroit, Traverse City, and Grand Rapids truck accident lawyers at Neumann Law Group. Each year for the last several years, our principal, award-winning trial lawyer Kelly Neumann, has secured more than $3 million in personal injury cases.Establishing Liability for Truck Accidents Caused by Driver Fatigue
Michigan truck drivers and their employers are expected to follow the hours of service regulations set forth at 49 CFR 395.3 and 395.8 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). For example, these regulations spell out that a driver carrying property cannot drive without first taking 10 hours off duty in a row. They also specify that with certain exceptions, driving is not permitted if fewer than eight hours have passed since the end of the driver's last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes.
Truck drivers are expected to keep a daily logbook of their hours. The trucking companies that employ them are supposed to check these books and make sure that drivers are complying with the FMCSA regulations and keeping accurate records. When a truck driver gets into an accident, the victim's attorney will want to look at the log book to see whether truck driver fatigue could be the cause of the accident.
If a truck driver's fatigue is the cause of an accident, and he has violated the hours of service rules, it is likely he will be found negligent. To establish the driver's negligence, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the truck driver owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, the driver breached the duty, causation linked the fatigue to the accident, and the plaintiff incurred damages. If the truck driver is found negligent in the course and scope of employment, his employer may be found vicariously liable for the damages. This means the trucking company is indirectly liable.
However, the trucking company may also be directly liable if it failed to require the truck driver to keep a daily log book or encouraged the truck driver to falsify records of hours worked so that a greater profit could be turned. The trucking company may be directly liable under a theory of negligent hiring, negligent training, or negligent supervision.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will compare the driver's testimony and records against the information gleaned from the truck's black box or electronic control module. In many cases, the black box can provide information about hours driven, movements made, heavy braking, fuel consumption, and other data that will allow the plaintiff's attorney to determine whether a truck driver and his employer are being honest about what happened before an accident.Explore Your Options with a Truck Accident Lawyer in Traverse City, Grand Rapids, or Detroit
Commercial vehicles are an important part of the economy in Michigan and elsewhere. However, it is crucial for drivers and their employers to follow rules for the safety of everyone on the road. If you suffer injuries in a truck accident and suspect that truck driver fatigue was the cause, our firm may be able to help you recover the no-fault benefits to which you may be entitled and pursue the truck driver or trucking company for noneconomic damages related to more serious and permanent injuries. The Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City truck accident attorneys at Neumann Law Group represent victims in Petoskey, Warren, Holland, Midland, Muskegon, Saginaw, Wyoming, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Flint, Ann Arbor, and communities throughout the Upper Peninsula, as well as in California and Massachusetts. Contact us at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form for a free consultation with a motor vehicle collision attorney.