Fatigued Truck Driver Accident Lawyers
At Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. our fatigued truck driver accident lawyers are committed to holding negligent and reckless truck drivers and the firms that hire them accountable for the harm they cause, particularly when they ignore regulations. We understand the financial, physical and emotional injury that victims of commercial truck crash suffer. We want to help them obtain the compensation they need to rebuild and carry on with their lives.
We can put our skills, experience, and resources to work for you if you or a loved one has been harmed in an accident caused by a fatigued truck driver. Call us today at 205-933-1500 or use our online form for a free consultation about your legal rights and options.
Long-haul truckers tend to work many hours to cover the distances they must travel. Unfortunately, this causes too many commercial truck drivers to suffer from sleep deprivation, disruption of normal sleep/rest cycles and fatigue. Fatigued truck drivers get into accidents that cause injuries and deaths.
In 2004, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) first established hours-of-service regulations to limit time behind the wheel and address fatigue among truck drivers. Following court action, final rules were issued in December 2011 to take effect in 2013. Truck drivers, in the meantime, have spent more and more uninterrupted hours behind the wheel. There have been frequent reports of truckers falling asleep while driving.
Truck Driver Fatigue Causes Alabama Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says in a report titled “Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes” that fatigued driving impairs a driver’s reaction time, vigilance, attention, and ability to process information. The same holds true for fatigued drivers manning 18-wheelers and other big-rig trucks. Commercial truck drivers who are fatigued pose a substantially increased risk of causing wrecks that result in death or serious injuries.
The amount of time interstate truck drivers spend on the road is governed by FMCSA rules that were adopted in 2004 and modified in 2005. Following several court challenges, the FMSCA issued a final ruling in December 2011 that becomes effective July 1, 2013.
The new rules say, in part:
- Interstate commercial truck drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours or drive after 14 hours since starting a shift until they have taken a 10-hour break.
- Drivers who use sleeper berths in their trucks can divide the required minimum 10-hour daily break between at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth and at least 2 hours in the sleeper berth or off duty.
- Drivers cannot drive after accruing 60 work hours during a 7-day period or 70 work hours during an 8-day period, but under the “restart” provision, truckers may resume driving after 34 hours off duty.
- Under the rules effective in 2013, drivers are allowed only one restart every seven days, or 168 hours. Under the prior rules, two restarts are allowed.
Unfortunately, FMCSA rules have not reduced the incidence of drowsy driving among truck drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that its surveys of long-distance truck drivers show that drivers are actually spending more hours behind the wheel since the work rules changed in January 2004. The drivers themselves also report more instances of falling asleep at the wheel.
In January 2012, the IIHS reported that truck drivers are allowed to complete paper logs of their hours behind the wheel and cited multiple studies that “found that work rules commonly are violated.” Truck drivers “admitted to often or sometimes omitting hours from their log books” in IIHS surveys.
Time is money, as the saying goes. No one should be surprised by the suggestion that profits motivate truckers to drive farther for longer hours. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Quarterly Services Survey says the combined for-hire, general freight, and specialized freight trucking industry generated $429.95 billion in revenue during 2011, an increase of 10.5 percent from 2010.
There may be other reasons behind truck driver fatigue. Like anyone, a trucker may be anxious to make it home for the weekend or to “push through” a metropolitan area to beat rush-hour traffic. Trucking firms sometimes offer their drivers bonuses for making extra stops or penalize them for missing deadlines. A tractor-trailer driver may stay on the road too long because he needs to make up for delays caused by bad weather or traffic.
Holding Fatigued Truck Drivers Accountable
The fatigued truck driving accident lawyers of Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. believe that when someone is injured or killed in a tractor-trailer wreck caused by truck driver fatigue, the responsible party or parties must be held accountable. The truck driver, the trucking company that employs the driver, or any other person or entity that contributed to the trucker’s condition may be liable for injuries in an 18-wheeler / commercial truck accident caused by driver fatigue.
Once our Alabama truck accident lawyers take your case, we will thoroughly investigate a truck accident. We will work with experts in accident reconstruction, mechanical design and engineering to develop evidence that supports your legal claim. We will obtain and examine drivers’ logs, electronic on-board recorders, cell phone records and other records to determine where and when the truck traveled prior to the accident. We will also consult doctors and health care planners to help us determine the full extent of your injuries and the likely costs you face as you work to recover.
Commercial truck accidents are not the same as other motor vehicle accidents. Truck accidents are complex. The FMCSA regulations that govern how often and when tractor-trailer drivers may get behind the wheel are voluminous and complicated. Large trucking companies and their insurers have teams of lawyers ready to shift blame and minimize payments that they should make to deserving injury victims.
Our fatigued truck driver accident lawyers are aggressive advocates with extensive experience battling trucking companies in Alabama and elsewhere in the Southeast. We know how to negotiate with insurance companies. We also know how to prepare and present cases in court.
Keith T. Belt, Jr., the law firm’s founder, has been named a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the American Trial Lawyers Association, and he is also listed as an Alabama Super Lawyer. Combined, our fatigued truck driver accident lawyers have more than 65 years of trial experience in state and federal courts.
We’ll work hard to make sure you get the compensation you and your family deserve.
Contact Our Alabama Fatigued Truck Driver Accident Lawyers Today
If you or a family member has suffered property loss, physical injuries or emotional pain because of an accident involving a fatigued driver in a commercial truck (18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, big rig, semi, tanker, dump truck, etc.), contact the Alabama fatigued truck driver accident attorneys of Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. We have a strong record of securing maximum settlements and verdicts for truck accident victims.
Under Alabama law, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit generally must be filed within two years after the injury or death occurred. Fatigued truck driver accident cases can take time to develop, so it’s important to take immediate action.
Call our fatigued truck driver accident lawyers today at 205-933-1500 or use our online form. We can provide you with a free case evaluation and get you started on the path to legal relief. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our truck accident attorneys can help you at a location nearest you.