A truck driver behind the wheel while fatigued is just as dangerous as a truck driver operating under the influence. If you or a loved one has been hit by a fatigued driver, you know firsthand just how serious of an issue this is. Understanding your rights and what needs to be proven are key to getting the compensation you need and deserve.
There are guidelines that determine how many hours a driver can operate, known as hours-of-service rules. This guideline restricts operation to a maximum of 11 hours, but only after 10 consecutive hours of rest. Even with this rest period, the driver can only operate within a 14-hour window after coming on duty.
If the driver takes a break, even if they haven't driven 11 hours, but they've been on the clock more than 14 hours – they can't legally get behind the wheel. The main reason for these guidelines is to prevent drive fatigue.
If the fatigued driver was operating outside the hours-of-service window, proof of their negligence may be found in their driver logs. Driver logs are a detailed record that each driver must update each time the truck is stopped and started.
Whether the driver is dropping off a load, taking a rest for the night or simply stopping to fuel up, these entries must be logged in the record to keep a clear record of their driving time. An experienced attorney will be able to collect and review this log to highlight any inaccuracies that may have attributed to your accident.
Getting your hands on the log is only the first start. Even if the log shows clear negligence on the part of the driver, in terms of not following driving guidelines, getting to the why is the next question. In some cases, the fatigue is clearly the result of a driver who has decided to overlook the law and continue driving.
In other cases, it's pressure from their employer demanding that the driver bypass these guidelines and continue to drive and finally, there are other instances when the driver is deciding to act negligently and the employer is aware of this, but does nothing about it. With the latter two scenarios, not only is the driver negligent, their employer may also be implicated as a negligent party.
The goal of a truck accident attorney is to get you the compensation you need. From reviewing driver logs to tracking negligence, an attorney will work hard on your behalf.