Truck drivers have difficult jobs, and they work hard. However, there are far too many instances where truck driver fatigue has played a role in causing auto accidents, and too many injuries sustained in situations where they could have been avoided. If you have been in an auto accident involving a large truck, and you suspect that the driver was fatigued, it may be an important fact to help build a negligence case around.
Most of the time, auto accidents involving large trucks are brought under a theory of negligence, and establishing negligence requires four criteria to be shown. You must establish that a duty to exercise reasonable care exists on the part of the defendant (in Texas, this is often stipulated; each motorist on the road is presumed to have a duty of care toward every other motorist) and that the duty has been breached. More specifically, the defendant’s conduct (or lack thereof) must be shown to have been the direct cause of the breach – no other intervening cause can have played a role – and you must also be able to show that you have suffered actual harm.
Keep in mind that if you decide to bring suit over your injuries, you should be aware as to which defendant is the appropriate one. Most of the time, plaintiffs will bring suit against the culpable driver, but their employer may be liable as well. Texas honors a doctrine called vicarious liability, which holds that an employer is ‘vicariously’ liable for the torts committed by their employees while in the course and scope of their employment. In most cases, a truck driver on the road is acting within the “course and scope” of their employment, meaning that their employer might be a viable defendant as well.
Be Aware of Hours of Service Regulations
Because of the prevalence of auto accidents related to trucker fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted what are referred to as hours of service regulations, which ostensibly governs the number of hours that any one driver can put in per shift, or at a stretch. However, while most truck drivers do report in good faith, studies have shown that people are not good at estimating their own limitations. It is sadly common for drivers to believe that they can handle more driving than they perhaps should, which can lead to danger for themselves and others.
If a truck driver can be shown to have disobeyed the hours of service regulations, it is not necessarily proof of liability, but it can be used as a piece of evidence to establish negligence on the part of the driver. Since negligence partly rests on whether or not the defendant’s conduct breached the duty of care, it can be argued in many cases that disobeying regulations is definitively not in keeping with a duty of care. However, because these are regulations, and not specifically laws, it may not be enough to establish negligence per se. Each case can be different.
Contact a New Braunfels Truck Crash Lawyer Today
Truck accidents are very serious, and if you have been injured, you deserve a chance to recover for your medical expenses and lost wages. The skilled New Braunfels truck accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are ready to put our experience in this area of law to work for you and give you and your family the best possible chance to get your life back on track. Call our offices today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.