Driver Negligence in Truck Accident Cases

A truck driver may be held liable for negligence if he or she fails to act in a reasonable manner to prevent the risk of foreseeable harm to other motorists. Truck drivers have a legal responsibility to observe a minimum standard of care when loading, inspecting, and operating a commercial vehicle. Drivers who fail to exercise this care may be liable for negligence in causing a truck accident.
Drivers must be careful to properly secure the goods that they are transporting. Often, large trucks haul loads that are not transported in an enclosed trailer, but rather must be secured to a flatbed trailer. In these cases, it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that the load being hauled is properly secured to the trailer and will not shift or fall during transport. If injury or death results from an improperly secured load, the driver may be held liable for compensating the injured parties.
Although the trucking company is responsible for the proper maintenance of its trucks, the truck driver is responsible for regularly inspecting the condition of his or her truck. A driver should be proactive in discovering any items such as inoperative headlamps, taillights, or turn signals that may need repair or replacement and bringing those items to the attention of the trucking company’s mechanics. It is therefore necessary to conduct a thorough investigation of your truck accident in order to identify who is liable for your injuries.
A driver is also obligated to use extreme caution when operating large trucks because of the inherent hazards involved in commercial vehicle operation. Reckless driving may result in catastrophic injury, such as spinal cord damage or paralysis, traumatic brain injury, or severe, disfiguring burns or scars. A driver may be deemed negligent if he or she drives at excessive speeds, tailgates, or fails to yield the right of way, thereby causing injury or death to unsuspecting motorists.
Driver Fatigue
One of the primary causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Lack of sleep can seriously impair any driver’s ability to operate a vehicle, let alone a commercial vehicle. A fatigued driver runs a greater risk of reacting more slowly to road hazards, thereby causing crashes that injure and kill other motorists. Although there has been much government regulation intended to curb driver fatigue in recent years, commercial vehicle operators continue to drive while tired. When a motorist is injured or killed as a result of driver fatigue, the driver – and even his or her employer – may be liable for damages as a result of the crash.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) sets forth rules, which place specific limitations on the maximum number of consecutive hours a driver may operate a commercial vehicle, as well as the minimum number of hours of rest that are required before a driver can resume work. Federal law only allows commercial vehicle operators to drive up to eleven hours in one work shift, and prohibits driving after fourteen hours have passed since the beginning of the shift. The law also requires at least ten consecutive hours off duty before the beginning of a new shift. In addition, truck drivers are required to keep a log book, which records their driving hours for any 24-hour period. Unfortunately, drivers and trucking companies often bend or break these rules in order to meet deadlines and maximize profits. If you believe driver fatigue was a factor in causing your injuries, contact the truck accident lawyers at Our Law Firm today.
Driver Criminal Behavior
A truck accident may also be caused by a driver’s criminal behavior, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, truck drivers are often expected to adhere to unrealistic schedules for transporting goods long distances. This may lead a fatigued and overworked driver to use methamphetamines or other stimulants in an effort to stay awake during long hauls. Drug use not only impairs a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle, but also places other motorists in danger of serious injury or even death if an accident results.
A truck driver may also cause an accident while operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol, although the incidence of drunk driving among commercial vehicle drivers has declined in recent years. This is likely due to strict government regulations concerning drinking and driving for commercial vehicle operators. According to federal regulations, truck drivers are prohibited from operating any motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04% or more. This is well below the legal intoxication limit of .08% for other motorists. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only 5% of truck drivers who were killed in large truck crashes in 2006 had a BAC at or above .08%, down from 17% in 1982. Nevertheless, some truck drivers do still drive under the influence of alcohol, which impairs their ability to operate a large truck and places other motorists at risk of catastrophic injury.

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