Commercial truck drivers are some of the most experienced and skilled motorists on the road, but no one is immune to the effects of fatigue. With long hours, tight deadlines, and endless stretches of highway, it’s not uncommon for truckers to become drowsy while behind the wheel, making them more prone to accidents.
To prevent drowsy driving crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces the Hours of Service (HoS) regulations, which prohibit truckers from driving for more than 11 hours after having spent at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty. When commercial drivers are transporting passengers, they have a 10-hour driving limit after having spent at least eight consecutive hours off-duty.
Unfortunately, just because these regulations are in place doesn’t mean everyone follows them. And when fatigued truckers cause accidents, the consequences are often devastating. Fortunately, victims and their families may be entitled to compensation for any medical bills, lost income, and other damages they incur as a result of the crash. Besides bringing a claim against the at-fault trucker, injured parties may also be able to hold his or her employer vicariously liable.
Before you can recover a single dollar, though, you must be able to prove that the trucker violated the Hours of Service regulations. This will require a thorough investigation, and it may be necessary to file subpoenas to obtain evidence, interview eyewitnesses, and bring in expert witnesses to provide testimony. A skilled truck accident lawyer can handle these tasks on your behalf, help you avoid critical mistakes, and make sure your case is as strong as possible when settlement negotiations begin.
How Do I Prove an Hours of Service Violation?
One of the most effective ways to prove fault for a fatigue-related truck accident is by gathering evidence that indicates the tractor-trailer was on the road for longer than is allowed by law. Such evidence might include:
- Data from the vehicle’s black box;
- Logbook entries tracking the trucker’s hours on the road;
- GPS data pinpointing the vehicle’s locations and speeds;
- Cellphone records including call and text logs;
- Social media posts regarding the trucker’s journey;
- Toll booth tickets;
- Weigh station receipts;
- Timestamped bills of lading;
- Timestamped receipts from gas stations, restaurants, and rest stops; and
- The truck’s maintenance records.
As previously mentioned, compiling all of this evidence takes time, and it’s not uncommon for valuable evidence to be withheld—especially if the defendant is in possession of that evidence. A truck accident lawyer can help you compile all available evidence and navigate every stage of the proceedings. Below are just a few ways a seasoned personal injury attorney can assist with your case:
- Conducting a thorough investigation to identify all potentially liable parties;
- Interviewing eyewitnesses;
- Consulting with accident reconstruction experts;
- Tracking your damages;
- Estimating a reasonable figure for non-economic damages;
- Handling all correspondence with the opposing party;
- Managing settlement negotiations; and
- Preparing the case for trial if necessary.
What Kinds of Damages Might Be Recoverable?
Due to their immense weight and size, trucks can deliver a powerful impact that’s capable of causing brain trauma, spinal cord damage, soft tissue damage, and a wide array of other injuries. The cost of medical care can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars, and some victims are unable to earn an income while they recover.
In the state of California, personal injury claimants have the right to seek compensation for both the economic and non-economic damages they incur, which may include:
- Past medical bills;
- Future medical bills;
- Property repairs;
- Lost income and benefits;
- Loss of future earnings;
- Home care;
- Child care;
- Domestic help;
- Reasonable home or vehicle modifications necessary to accommodate injuries;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Pain and suffering.
Additionally, the spouse or registered domestic partner of the injured party may be entitled to compensation for loss of consortium. This refers to the loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, protection, assistance, moral support, society, and intimacy.
Some personal injury victims are also entitled to a punitive award. In cases involving HoS violations, however, punitive damages are rarely warranted because violating these rules usually doesn’t constitute malice.
An attorney can help you determine the types of damages to pursue and estimate their value. If you try to take on the insurance company alone, you may end up overlooking certain kinds of damages or underestimating your medical costs, lost income, or other losses. Your lawyer can help you compile all available evidence of damages and make sure the insurance company doesn’t coerce you into accepting an unfair payout. In fact, simply having a seasoned trial attorney by your side will show the insurance company that you’re prepared to go to court if necessary. This might prevent them from taking a hardline during settlement negotiations in order to avoid litigation.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Truck Accident Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you or someone you love was hurt in an accident with a negligent truck driver, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks to discuss your case. Michael Waks is a top-rated trial lawyer who has extensive experience taking on large motor carriers and their insurance companies. Call (562) 206-1939 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free case evaluation with a truck accident lawyer in Long Beach.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency .PDF
When you’re involved in any kind of accident, it can be hard to remain calm at the scene and think clearly while you gather insurance information and other evidence. The shock and trauma of the wreck are enough to make anyone overlook important evidence or forget to take critical steps such as writing down the contact information of eyewitnesses. We created our Car Accident Emergency .PDF to help motorists gather the most pertinent details they’ll need to file an insurance claim. Click Here to download it for free, and be sure to store it in your glove compartment.
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