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IL accident lawyerOne of the leading causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. A tired driver can be just as dangerous as a drunk driver. When a person becomes sleep-deprived and exhausted, they become prone to making mistakes that they would not normally make. Fatigued drivers may miss important road signs, forget to check their blind spots, or even drive more aggressively than usual due to irritability. Unfortunately, there is no roadside tiredness test. A drunk driver may not be able to walk a straight line, but a tired driver may be wide awake right after the crash. Of course, drug or alcohol use can contribute to a driver’s tiredness as well. If you suspect that driver fatigue was a factor in your truck accident, your attorney can try to seek out evidence of the driver’s tiredness.

What Evidence Can Be Used to Show Driver Fatigue?

While it can be very difficult to tell whether a truck driver was overly tired before a crash, certain types of evidence can be used to suggest that driver fatigue was a factor. Helpful evidence may include:

  • Hours of service logs - There are strict federal and state regulations that govern how long a commercial truck driver can keep going without a break, and how long that break must be. Drivers should be keeping a log, which should be corroborated automatically by software installed on the truck. If they broke federal or state law and have not been taking proper rest breaks, this can show that the driver was probably fatigued at the time of the crash.
  • Drug tests - After causing an accident, a truck driver should be tested for drugs and alcohol promptly. The presence of “downers” like alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opiates, can suggest that the driver may have been very sleepy when he caused the crash.
  • Witness testimony - If you were on a populated road, another driver or bystander may have seen signs that the driver was falling asleep. If the driver made a recent stop, someone may have observed them appearing fatigued. They may have purchased coffee or an energy drink, suggesting that they were struggling to stay alert.
  • Type of accident - When a driver falls asleep at the wheel, they often drift out of their lane. Sideswipe accidents or head-on collisions are common results.

Tired truck drivers cause far too many accidents. If you were injured by a fatigued driver, there may be evidence available showing that their fatigue contributed to or caused the crash.

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IL accident lawyerAlmost everyone has had the experience of feeling drowsy while driving, especially given our busy lifestyles and tendencies to stay up late or forgo the sleep we need to stay fully rested. While drowsy driving may seem fairly innocent, it can have very serious consequences. This is especially true for drivers of commercial semi-trucks, who can easily lose control of their vehicle and cause an accident if they start to drift off to sleep even for a few seconds. If you have been injured in a truck accident, drowsy driving may have been a contributing factor, and you could be entitled to compensation from multiple liable parties.

What Causes Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving, otherwise known as driver fatigue, can happen for many different reasons. Lack of sleep is one of the most common, including in cases in which the driver generally does not get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each day, as well as cases in which the driver is on the road late into the night. Drowsiness is also a common side effect of many medications, and it can start to take hold when a driver has consumed alcohol or certain other drugs.

Among commercial truck drivers, however, one of the most prevalent causes of drowsy driving is the pressure to work long hours, most of them behind the wheel, in order to meet delivery schedules. In order to curb this problem, there are federal regulations in place that limit a driver’s hours of service.

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IL accident lawyerIt is an unfortunate reality that many people choose to drive under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, putting themselves and others at risk of serious injury or death. While this problem is more prevalent among drivers of passenger vehicles on their personal time, some commercial truck drivers also operate under the influence while they are on the job. Accidents involving drunk truck drivers can have especially dire consequences, as their large vehicles are capable of causing extensive damage. If you or a loved one was injured by an intoxicated truck driver, it is important to ensure that you are compensated fairly.

Gathering Evidence of a Truck Driver’s Negligence

Truck driver intoxication can happen due to alcohol consumption, the use of illegal drugs, or the abuse of prescription medication. In many cases, it is possible for accident victims to access evidence establishing these various forms of intoxication in order to bolster their claim for compensation. However, it is important to act quickly.

You should call the police immediately after a crash so that they can create an accident report. If law enforcement suspects that the truck driver is intoxicated, they may also ask the driver to submit to a preliminary breath test at the scene of the accident, which can detect the presence of alcohol in their bloodstream. An officer may also arrest a truck driver on DUI charges, after which the driver is required to submit to chemical testing which can detect other controlled substances. An experienced attorney can help you work with law enforcement to access police reports and test results to use as evidence to demonstrate negligence in your personal injury case.

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IL injury lawyerTruckers have a job that requires them to drive for long periods of time and cope with unpredictable sleep schedules. Trucking companies are under intense pressure to get truck shipments transported as quickly as possible. The combination of these factors can sometimes be disastrous. Truck drivers who are sleepy may make dangerous mistakes behind the wheel or even fall asleep while driving. If you or a loved one were hurt in a truck accident and you suspect that a fatigued truck driver may have been to blame, it is important to know your rights.

Truck Drivers Are Required to Follow Rules Regarding Drive Time and Rest Breaks

Sleepiness may seem like no big deal. However, when you are operating a massive vehicle like a semi-truck, being sleepy can lead to catastrophe. When a driver is sleep-deprived, he or she takes longer to respond to a sudden emergency such as a stalled vehicle or other object in the road. Sleepy drivers may also make mistakes like forgetting to check their blind spots before changing lanes.

For these reasons, federal law places limits on the number of hours that a truck driver can drive the vehicle without stopping for a break. For property-carrying trucks, there is an 11-hour driving limit after 10 hours off duty. Drivers must not drive more than 14 consecutive hours after 10 hours off duty. Drivers are expected to keep track of the number of hours that they have driven in an electronic logbook. However, some drivers lie on their logbooks and drive beyond the limitations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. There have even been instances of trucking companies coercing drivers to violate drive time and rest break rules by threatening to fire them for taking the legally-required breaks. This issue has been so widespread that the FMCSA now explicitly prohibits coercion and has instituted reporting procedures for drivers who have been forced to drive longer than they are supposed to.

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Who Is Legally Liable for a Truck Accident?

Posted on in Truck Accidents

IL truck accident lawyerIf you or a loved one were involved in a truck accident, a personal injury claim may allow you to recover financial compensation for your vehicle damage, medical bills, disability, pain and suffering, and other losses. However, it is not always easy to identify the party who is “liable” or legally responsible for a truck accident. Many people assume that the truck driver is automatically at-fault for a serious truck accident, however, the trucking company, a manufacturing company, or even a government entity such as a state may be liable for a truck accident.

Truck Accidents Caused By Truck Driver Negligence

A large percentage of truck accidents are caused by negligent driving. Distracted driving is a particular concern. Because of their massive size, commercial trucks take a long time to stop. If a truck driver is looking down at his or her radio, GPS, or cellphone when a stopped vehicle or other obstacle appears in front of him or her, the results can be catastrophic. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is another issue that may lead to horrific truck accidents. Truck driver fatigue and violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) rules regarding rest breaks and drive time may also be the cause of a major truck accident.

Trucking Company Liability for Truck Accidents

In many truck accident cases, the fault for the accident lies with the trucking company. Some truck companies cut corners and hire drivers who are under-qualified to drive a commercial big rig. Other trucking companies fail to keep their trucks adequately maintained. Mistakes in the loading and securement of truck cargo may also be caused by trucking company negligence.

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