Studies have shown time and time again that fatigue is a significant cause of trucking accidents. It has been shown that drowsiness causes up to 40% of trucking accidents. Significantly, the risks of an accident increase 400% from the 8th hour of driving to the 11th. Naturally Congress sees fit to maintain and perpetuate excessive trucker driving hours.
Congressional Response to Dangers of Excessive Trucker Driving Hours
Public safety groups have for many years sought restrictions of trucker driving hours. What they have met instead is trucking industry resistance and lobbying.
The trucking industry is a $726 billion/year industry. One might expect lawmakers to jump through hoops to please an industry of this size. That is exactly what they have always done and continue to do. Congress has once again put industry and money before the safety of citizens. In this case, they have helped perpetuate the dangers to all drivers, truckers included, from fatigued driving.
AAA Study Show Drowsy Driving Comparable to Drunk Driving
The recent actions by Congress are all the more appalling in light of the very newsroom.aaa.com showing that sleep hours below the recommended 7 to 8 hours per night drastically increase the likelihood of driving accidents. In fact, it has been shown that drowsy driving is comparable to drunk driving in terms of risks of accidents.
Legal Claims in Case of Drowsy Truck Accident
The risks of drowsy driving caused by excessive hours and consequent drowsy truckers is beyond dispute. The numbers speak for themselves. Yet trucking companies continue to encourage and often demand excessive hours from their drivers. The consequences are by sheer physics typically catastrophic or deadly to innocent folks and their loved ones on the roads.
As a result, anyone harmed as a result drowsy truck driving has very strong legal claims for both compensatory damages and punitive damages. These are part of a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
Personal Injury Claims for Truck Accidents
In the event that the innocent victims are lucky enough to survive a trucking accident, the harm can be unimaginable to both the injured and the family. The injuries are typically catastrophic and permanent. With injuries of this magnitude, there is often a lifetime of lost income, medical treatment, rehabilitation, therapy, psychological and brain function issues, both physical and emotional pain to name just some of the harm resulting from the typical truck accident.
Money cannot possibly compensate the victim and family for these losses, but it is really the only recourse. And in these cases, money compensation is absolutely necessary. All of the harms and losses mentioned above are financially crippling in the absence of compensation. This compensation comes only with a personal injury claim and frequently prolonged litigation.
Wrongful Death Claims for Truck Accidents
Unfortunately, death is far too often the result of a truck accident. Death is the greatest loss that anyone can suffer. The only thing comparable is the death of a loved one. In the case of a wrongful death caused by a drowsy truck accident, the two go hand in hand.
Many of the harms and losses mentioned above are unique to the victim. However, many of them are still suffered by the surviving family. In addition, both the spouse and the children, will suffer the emotional loss of a loved one which is referred to as loss of consortium.
Punitive Damages for Drowsy Truck Accident
Punitive damages are used to punish and deter. They punish the individual or company who has engaged in reckless conduct. They deter other individuals and companies in engaging in that same conduct.
In cases involving excessive hours, fatigue and resulting drowsy driving, punitive damages are both appropriate and essential. The dangers of this conduct are beyond dispute. Those ignoring these dangers do so at their peril (and ours).
Seek Legal Guidance
Trucking companies and often individual truckers notoriously difficult to deal with in these cases. They simply will not accept responsibility for the harm they have caused. In fact, they often obstruct any investigation in a variety of ways to prevent liability for their negligence.
It is critical to seek the guidance of an experienced trucking accident attorney right away to protect your rights against this obstruction. The Albuquerque personal injury and wrongful death law firm of Collins & Collins, P.C. is here to help. We can be reached online or by phone at (505) 242-5958.
GOP, industry defeat safety rules that would have kept tired truckers off road | PBS NewsHour
GOP, industry defeat safety rules that would have kept tired truckers off road | PBS NewsHour HAGERSTOWN, Md. — The trucking industry scored a victory this week when Republican lawmakers effectively blocked Obama administration safety rules aimed at keeping tired truckers off the highway. But there’s more coming down the road.
The American Trucking Associations is pledging to come back next month, when Republicans will control the White House and Congress, and try to block state laws that require additional rest breaks for truckers beyond what federal rules require. The group says there should be one uniform national rule on work hours for interstate truckers.
Another regulation that prevents truckers from working 75 hours, followed by a 35-hour break, and then resume driving again in the same week was also suspended.
Congress again ready to block rules on sleepy truckers | NJ.com
Congress again ready to block rules on sleepy truckers | NJ.com WASHINGTON — Legislation to fund the government through the end of April would continue to block federal efforts to regulate truckers’ rest hours even as the National Transportation Safety Board called driver fatigue one of its top concerns.
The spending bill would continue to block a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rule setting rest requirements for truck drivers. It comes as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics showed the number of individuals killed in crashes involving large trucks rose last year to 4,067 — the highest level since 2008 — from 3,908 in 2014.