You may be traveling along a California road when you see a large truck or SUV coming from the other direction. There may be nothing separating you from that 18-wheeler or box truck but a double-yellow line. You often have to trust in that truck driver’s ability to keep his big rig in the correct lane. But what if that driver were nodding off or even asleep at the wheel?
It’s a dangerous situation that the lifestyle of a truck driver can make more likely with each long mile they travel. And careful drivers have no idea a driver ahead or behind them has fallen asleep. They’ll have very little chance of steering clear of such a sudden threat that offers so little advance warning.
Drowsy Big Rig Driver Dangers in California
Big rig drivers can travel from the west coast to the east coast and back in a single trip. They’ve gotten very good and staying alert over those many miles, but the eye strain and lack of sleep can get to anyone.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) tries to prevent accidents caused by a sleepy driver by limiting the hours a truck driver can be on the road. Big Rig drivers are only allowed to be behind the wheel for 11 hours after a 10-hour break. They also must take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 hours straight and must take at least 34 hours between trips.
Factor in that drivers can turn to legal and illegal drugs to keep themselves awake despite the frequent drug tests that most drivers are given. Those substances can create more danger for other drivers and passengers on the highway. These rules are meant to keep everyone safer, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see an unfocused or even fully asleep driver perched at the wheel of a large truck.
Who Can Be Asked for Support if I’m Injured By a Drowsy Truck Driver?
Truck collision injury cases can involve a one-man business (the trucker) or a trucking company that maintains a fleet of vehicles and drivers. There are many options when injured victims start to list those who should share in the liability over their injury.
If you have a personal injury lawyer, the sorting out of every party that should be held accountable is much easier. A truck driver may work for himself and carry commercial truck accident insurance. A trucking or agricultural company may employ the driver and provide accident liability insurance. A truck’s manufacturer could share in the responsibility if a defect in the truck design or flaw in a truck part caused your crash.
When a sleeping truck driver caused a crash, the employer of that driver can face some serious questions that can make it more likely they’ll agree to provide help to you. Questions over the safety policies of the company and how well federal guidelines are enforced will get asked by your personal injury attorney. The driver’s own safety record can also be powerful evidence that shows fault on the part of the trucking company.
Big Rig Driving Accident Deadlines and Compensation
Victims injured in a crash involving a truck driver are allowed up to two years to file an accident claim in California. This seems like an abundance of time, but victims should speak with an attorney to get their case moving as soon as possible. The sooner you allow a personal injury lawyer to investigate your case, the easier it will be for your attorney to find evidence and locate witnesses.
When your California personal injury attorney has you prepared to file your accident claim, he or she will make sure every hardship you’ve experienced gets included on your claim. This could include some difficulties you’ve been put through that you wouldn’t have considered. These damages can all add into a big rig accident settlement check.
These are just a few of the factors that can be included when you demand what’s fair from an insurance company for an at-fault big rig driver or business:
- Hospital and rehabilitation expenses.
- Earnings you’ve lost while missing work.
- Costs associated with a permanent physical disability such as a limp, brain damage, loss of a limb, or paralysis.
- Emotional anguish. An accident can cause you the loss of enjoyment of life. You can also experience anxiety or depression as a result of your accident experience.
- Damage or destruction of property.
- Travel costs. You can be reimbursed for every drive you’ve taken or Uber or Lyft ride you’ve made to a doctor’s appointment. You may have to travel out of city or out of state to see specialists and those travel expenses should be covered.
Contact a California Truck Driving Accident Lawyer
When you or a loved one have been the victim of a truck accident, please consult with a local truck accident attorney before speaking with insurance representatives. Insurance adjusters will be calling you to talk, but you should never give a recorded statement. Adjusters can ask confusing questions in the hopes of using your answers to discredit your case later. Let your attorney handle these frustrating calls.
Attorney Martin Gasparian offers a free case evaluation to big rig truck accident victims and their families. Mr. Gasparian works to make sure clients are allowed to rebuild their health and their lives without worry over hospital bills and lost paychecks.