Drowsy Driving Truck Accidents
Experienced Charlotte Drowsy Driving Truck Accident Lawyers
Representing those hurt in truck accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers throughout North Carolina since 1992
When a professional truck driver takes the wheel behind a massive 18-wheeler, that driver must be alert and constantly vigilant about changing traffic conditions around the truck. That is why it is so dangerous for a truck driver to be drowsy or fall asleep at the wheel. If a driver makes one minor mistake while driving fatigued, it can have major consequences for everyone around the truck.
If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a trucking accident, contact Warren & Kallianos, PLLC today. With 58 years of combined legal experience, our attorneys know how to handle complex trucking accident cases. We will identify whether drowsy driving or other factors contributed to your crash. We will also pursue all options for compensation for you and your family.
The Dangers of Drowsy Commercial Truck Drivers
Often a trucker’s negligence begins by skipping breaks and failing to get much-needed sleep. By doing this, the driver makes a conscious decision that he or she knows can easily lead to serious injuries or death. Make no mistake, it is negligent for a truck driver to operate a semi-truck without adequate rest.
The National Sleep Foundation compares fatigued (or “drowsy”) driving to drunk driving. If a person is awake for 18 straight hours, that person suffers the same effect as he or she would if legally drunk. In other words, it is as if the person had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08. If a person goes a full 24 hours without sleep, it has the same effect as if the driver had a 0.10 BAC. Indeed, drowsy driving:
- Slows reaction time
- Decreases awareness
- Impairs judgment
- And greatly increases the risk of causing an accident.
Many factors contribute to drowsy driving – alone or in combination. They include:
- Lack of sleep
- Extended work hours
- Strenuous work
- Boring, long drives
- Alcohol or drug use
- Distractions (cell phones, in-cab displays and devices, etc.).
Trucking companies often encourage bad behavior in truck drivers. They set unrealistic expectations and pressure drivers to operate outside of work hour restrictions or to operate unsafely for conditions. Drivers get paid more for the miles they drive. So, they have a strong financial incentive to cut corners and get there faster, which includes driving while drowsy. Their poor decisions carry devastating consequences.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that the number of large trucks involved in deadly crashes went up from 4,074 in 2015 to 4,213 in 2016. Big trucks accounted for as many as 160 deaths in North Carolina alone, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. Thousands of more people suffered serious injuries in collisions with commercial trucks. In many of these accidents, the driver left his or her lane or failed to stay alert. FMCSA data shows that, from year to year, driver fatigue accounts for roughly 2 percent of all big rig accidents – a higher percentage than accidents related to drug or alcohol use.
Truck Drivers Frequently Violate Hours-of-Service Regulations
The FMCSA has strict regulations with detailed descriptions of how much rest or sleep a trucker must get between work shifts. Here’s a summary of how these federal regulations work. Every state, including North Carolina, can force truckers to follow additional rules. The following are the FMCSA rules for cargo-hauling drivers. Similar rules apply for passenger vehicles such as charter buses.
- 14-hour rule – A driver can only work for 14 hours after coming on duty. So, if a driver begins the day by performing a mandatory pre-trip inspection at 8 a.m., the driver must end work no later than 10 p.m. that day.
- 11-hour rule – A driver must not drive for more than 11 hours without taking at least a 10-hour rest. In other words, there can be no more than 11 hours of total driving without taking a break for consecutive sleep time.
- Breaks – Drivers cannot drive more than eight consecutive hours without having at least 30 minutes of rest.
- 34-hour reset – Drivers are capped at driving no more than 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. Drivers can get a “reset” by taking 34 consecutive hours off duty.
Additional rules should keep drivers in check. To ensure compliance, the U.D. Department of Transportation has mandated Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), to replace hand-written log books which were subject to “fudging” the numbers if a truck driver wanted to pull an extra-long shift. ELDs connect to the truck’s engine to log precisely when the driver was driving and when the truck was stopped. Your Charlotte truck accident attorney can request access to the truck’s ELD data along with the truck’s “black box” data in the investigation of your truck accident injury.
How Our Lawyers Can Help You After a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident
Our experienced truck accident lawyers at Warren & Kallianos can pursue compensation from the trucker or the trucking company. Trucking companies and their insurers know what is at stake. So, they will rarely admit fault. They may even try to conceal evidence, hide maintenance records, or repair the damaged truck within hours of the crash to hide proof of negligence. You need a lawyer who will immediately and aggressively investigate and litigate your case.
At Warren & Kallianos, our team will:
- Take immediate action. Often, a swift and rapid response will help to preserve key evidence such as logbooks and the truck’s black box.
- Inspect and document the scene. Our team will perform our own investigation to document the facts and circumstances surrounding the crash, such as the skid marks, property damage, and other factors that may help prove the facts of your crash.
- Talk with witnesses. The sooner we can talk to witnesses, the better. They may forget important details as time passes.
- Research the driver and company. Many drivers and companies that cause serious crashes are repeat offenders with a terrible record of violations.
- Determine whether a driver’s medical condition or medication use contributed to drowsy driving. While this can be very difficult to find out, a skilled attorney may be able to find evidence of a driver’s intoxication or impairment. Breath, blood, or urine test results, for instance, may indicate alcohol or drug use. Also, investigation of the driver’s medical history and medical condition can lead to critical evidence.
- Consult with experts in accident reconstruction who can help to determine factors that caused the crash. Often skilled and experienced experts, engineers and industry leaders can assist in building your case.
- Calculate your damages. Our attorneys have many years of experience. We know how to carefully explore all options and pursue justice on behalf of injury victims. We will carefully determine the full extent of your damages.
Whether it’s through skillful negotiations or by pursuing your case to trial, our Charlotte truck accident attorneys will relentlessly pursue compensation for your injuries.
Don’t talk to the insurance company without first talking to Warren & Kallianos right away. Insurers are skilled at resolving claims. They will stop at nothing to cheat you out of the full compensation you deserve. Let us handle the negotiations and discussions with the insurance company. So, you can get back to your recovery.
The attorneys of Warren & Kallianos will put our experience to work for you right away to determine if fatigue or some other form of negligence caused the accident that hurt you or your loved one. We will never take a fee unless we collect compensation on your behalf. You will never be asked to pay large fees or pay upfront for the expensive costs of pursuing justice. If we can’t collect on your behalf, you will owe us nothing.
Get Help from Our Charlotte Truck Accident Attorneys Today
Don’t delay. Time is limited to pursue your trucking accident case. The longer you wait, the harder it may become to seek compensation for your injuries. Call 704-377-7777 or contact Warren & Kallianos today for a free consultation.