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Why Does Truck Driver Fatigue Happen?

Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents in New Mexico. Since truck drivers are faced with strict deadlines, some choose to stay on the road for extended hours, ignoring state and federal regulations regarding rest breaks and other requirements. When a fatigued truck driver causes a collision, victims often suffer catastrophic injuries.

Attorney Paul Dominguez helps victims injured by negligent truck drivers and the companies employing them. Our firm offers knowledgeable legal guidance to truck accident victims and their families, making sure that the necessary evidence is collected and responsible parties are held liable for the harm that they have caused.

What Regulations Are In Place To Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue?

Trucks are difficult to operate in general, requiring drivers to possess specialized skills and licenses in order to make sure that these massive vehicles are controlled properly. When a truck driver is fatigued after hours or even days on the road, their response time is delayed, and their judgment may be impaired. The interstate trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which sets out requirements regarding drivers in order to prevent fatigue.

Under FMCSA regulations, truck drivers may not drive past 11 hours, and they must take a rest of 10 consecutive hours between shifts. Drivers must also maintain proper logbooks regarding their hours traveled, rest and meal breaks. In 2014, truck safety inspectors issued over 250,000 citations for violations of hours of service (HOS) regulations. Tired drivers have slower reaction times, impaired judgment and lower awareness levels, all of which can lead to significant collisions. The FMCSA released a study indicating that 13 percent of commercial drivers involved in truck accidents were determined to be fatigued when the crash occurred.

Seeking Compensation For Injuries Caused By Fatigued Truck Drivers

When a truck driver makes the decision to remain behind the wheel for more than the number of hours allowable or skips necessary breaks, they should be held accountable for any collisions and injuries that result. Failing to adhere to state or federal trucking regulations, leading to fatigue, can be a sign of the negligence necessary to prevail in a personal injury lawsuit. Victims injured by a tired driver must prove that the driver breached the duty to act as a reasonable and prudent person would act given the circumstances, that breach caused the victim’s injuries, and damages were incurred as a result.

For instance, if a truck driver falls asleep behind the wheel after driving for 20 hours, and they strike another vehicle, the driver could be found to have acted unreasonably and therefore negligently. Additionally, a trucking company can also be held vicariously liable for its employee’s negligence. If the driver was acting within the scope of their employment at the time of a collision, such as when a driver continues to drive in order to make a delivery on time, the employer-trucking company can also be held responsible.

Once negligence is shown, a victim may receive damages to pay for any past or future medical expenses, loss of income or diminished earning capacity, as well as compensation for pain and suffering. In the devastating event that truck driver fatigue leads to a fatality, family members may pursue a wrongful death claim in order to receive compensation for burial or funeral costs, as well as loss of consortium damages. In New Mexico, both personal injury and wrongful death actions must be filed within three years from the date of a victim’s injury or death.

Discuss Your Trucking Accident Case With A Lawyer

To determine whether a truck accident was caused by a fatigued driver, detailed evidence must be gathered and examined, including past driving history, logbooks and other documentation regarding the circumstances surrounding a collision. We can make sure that the proper steps are followed so that victims may receive the compensation they need to recover from serious injuries.

For a free consultation, call us today at 505-850-5854 or email us to find out more about what our experienced Albuquerque truck accident lawyer can do for you.

We serve Los Ranchos and the Albuquerque area, as well as all of New Mexico.