Falling asleep at the wheel can have devastating effects on injured victims and their families. The damages from serious trucking accidents caused by driver fatigue are comparable to that of a drunk driving crash.
Injury victims are often left with costly medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages from missing work, loss of consortium, and property damage. To pursue compensation for your damages you will need to prove the other driver was drowsy and caused the crash which led to your damages. Hiring an experienced attorney may be essential to build a strong case in your favor.
The distinguished attorneys at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers have handled more than 6,000 cases and recovered more than $100,000,000 combined in successful verdicts and settlements on behalf of our past clientele. We handle injury cases of all kinds, including claims that involve trucking accidents. We offer free consultations to injury victims and there is no obligation to hire our firm for legal representation if you decide not to move forward.
Below, we discuss what is needed to prove a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and how you can seek compensation for your injuries and vehicle damage. Taking action immediately on some of these steps could help increase your chances of having a successful outcome for your claim.
What Are the Rules for Truck Drivers in Florida?
Exhausted commercial truck drivers pose a serious threat for everyone on the road. Many of them are carrying dangerous and/or hazardous materials across several states, including Florida. Most truckers work long hours and are expected to meet certain delivery dates, which may cause them to skip sleep so that they can meet those deadlines. Some drivers are also paid by the mile, which may give them more of an incentive to avoid rest and remain behind the wheel.
However, all truck drivers and trucking companies in Florida are required to follow certain regulations mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. One of these precautions is referred to as Hours of Service (HOS), which limits the number of consecutive hours a truck driver is allowed to remain behind the wheel.
The HOS has different rules for drivers who are carrying passengers versus drivers who are carrying property. For example, truck drivers who are carrying property can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after being off-duty for 10 consecutive hours. Drivers who are carrying passengers are only allowed a maximum of 10 consecutive hours after having eight consecutive hours off-duty.
Furthermore, drivers carrying cargo are required to take a 30-minute break if they have been driving for eight consecutive hours without interruption. The 60/70-Hour Limit, which applies to both property haulers and passenger drivers, states that a driver cannot drive after being on-duty for 60/70 hours in 7/8 consecutive days.
There are several other rules and regulations regarding the numbers of hours truck drivers may be limited to – which your lawyer can explain in more depth. Truck drivers are responsible for keeping track of their own hours in a driver log. The trucking company or truck owner must review the log to ensure the driver is complying with the law. A skilled lawyer will ask for the log to be investigated and submitted as evidence in a trucking accident case that may have been caused by a tired driver.
Proving Your Truck Accident Claim
In order to prove your injury or damages claim, you and your lawyer will need to provide evidence and prove the accident was the result of negligence by the truck driver or trucking company. To hold an individual or company liable for damages, you and your attorney must establish the following four elements of negligence existed at the time of the crash:
- The truck driver owed you a duty of care.
- The trucker failed to uphold his or her duty of care.
- The breach of duty of care led to your injuries and damages.
- Quantifiable damages were created, such as medical expenses and/or other financial losses.
Once these four elements are established, you and your lawyer can submit evidence to support your claim. Some common forms of evidence may include:
The drivers log – As mentioned above, drivers are responsible for keeping track of their HOS in a log to help avoid driver fatigue.
Photos – If you were injured in a truck crash, it is crucial to take photos of your injuries and the accident scene. This can be used as valuable evidence to prove your trucking accident claim.
Video footage – Sometimes traffic or surveillance cameras can capture the crash in real-time, as it occurred, which can be used as evidence to determine fault for the accident. Your lawyer may be able to obtain a copy of the footage, if needed.
Witness statements – If someone was in the area at the time of the crash, they may be considered as a possible witness. Be sure to record witness contact information, as they may be able to provide a non-biased statement that may strengthen your claim. You can also ask permission to record a video with your phone to obtain a witness statement.
Traffic citations – If the police gave the truck driver a speeding ticket or any other citations such as distracted driving, driving recklessly, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this could be used against the at-fault driver to back your claim.
Maintenance checks – Sometimes serious truck accidents are the result of lack of proper maintenance or defective parts. Tire blowouts, faulty brakes, and illegal cargo loads can all lead to serious tractor-trailer crashes. If it is found the accident was caused by poor maintenance or defective parts, the trucking company, manufacturer, and/or truck owner could be held liable.
Social media posts – Sometimes truck drivers may post something on social media that could end up hurting their defense. For example, if a trucker posts something along the lines of, “I’ve been on the road for nearly 24 hours straight with no breaks!” That would clearly be a violation and hurt his or her defense.
Hire an Attorney With an Excellent Track Record
If you or someone you care about was injured in a trucking accident, it is important to learn your legal options from an attorney with an excellent track record. Most injury victims who hire legal representation tend to garner more adequate compensation for them to fully recover, compared to those who decide to represent themselves alone.
The dedicated attorneys at the law office of Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers are prepared to discuss the details of your truck accident claim in a no-cost, initial consultation. Our firm has recovered more than $100 million combined in successful verdicts and settlements on behalf of our past clients, while receiving more than 600 five-star reviews.
We aim to protect the rights of injury victims in the Pompano Beach area and throughout the state of Florida (by appointment only). Call our firm any-time 24/7, with any legal questions you may have about your trucking accident. We are here to help guide you through the complexities of the legal process.
Call Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers today at (561) 800-8000 or fill out a free online form.