The Danger of Trucker Fatigue
Truckers have a difficult job, made harder by the demands placed on them by their employers. Despite this, truckers sometimes take chances that can increase the rate of accidents, especially on busy roads like I-35. If you are in an accident with a truck, it is generally a good idea to ascertain whether fatigue played a role in the crash.
Statistics Show Rising Instances
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began to measure statistics related to driver fatigue in 2015, after modification to truckers’ hours-of-service regulations. The statistics after the initial study are somewhat concerning, showing a significant link between fatigue and an increase in accidents. For example, as many as 13 percent of all truck-related accidents were partially or totally caused by driver fatigue in the most recent reported data. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics suggest as many as 30 percent of accidents may have a fatigue component.
Perhaps the most alarming is the amount of drivers who presented as fatigued while at the same time being found with falsified log books or fudged hours of service. In 2014, as many as 280,000 checks of active drivers yielded log books that were inaccurate - or, arguably worse, they yielded more hours than should be driven, which points to further sleep deprivation. These truckers are making a conscious choice to drive dangerously.
The Problem for Plaintiffs
The most difficult aspect of trying to bring fatigue into a negligence case is that it is incredibly difficult to prove without an admission, as everyone’s fatigue level is subjective. Accident reconstruction or analysis of other issues may help, but it requires time and money in many cases to make certain the relevant work gets done. Negligence has four parts that must be proven: the duty and breach of the duty of care, harm done, and a showing that the harm done to the plaintiff occurred solely due to the defendant’s conduct. Driving while fatigued tends to argue toward a breach of the duty of care which is owed to every motorist on the road - while the existence of the duty is not negotiable, whether or not there was a breach very often is.
It is also important to understand that even if you are able to show that fatigue was a factor in your accident, you may not be able to show that it was the controlling factor. Texas does have comparative fault laws, meaning that if you are unable to show that the defendant was more than 51 percent at fault for the accident, you may be barred from recovery altogether. It may be best in many situations to argue that fatigue was merely one factor in your accident.
Contact A Knowledgeable Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck accidents on Texas roads have steadily risen in recent years, and because of the sheer tonnage involved, they are more likely to be deadly. The skilled New Braunfels truck accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm are well versed in how to handle most truck accidents, and will sit down with you to see if we can assist you with yours.