News & Resources

November 9, 2015. Category: Car Accidents

Trucking Accidents: Drowsy Drivers Endanger Public Safety

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that tens of thousands of trucking accident deaths and injuries occur annually in the United States. A significant portion of these casualties are caused by drowsy truck drivers working overtime to satisfy their employers or maximize their profits. When a drowsy truck driver negligently causes an accident, Florida personal injury and wrongful death laws provide the basis for compensating victims.

Trucking Regulations

At the federal level, the trucking industry is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT regulations require truckers to:

  • Take 10 consecutive hours off duty before beginning any shift.
  • Limit shifts to 14 consecutive hours, after which time they must take another 10-hour break before beginning another shift.
  • Drive no more than 11 hours during any 14-hour shift.
  • Drive no more than 8 hours without a rest break of at least 30 minutes.
  • Take a 34-hour break after any on-duty period of 70 hours during any 8-day period.

The foregoing regulations represent only a sample of a complex regulatory structure that is designed to keep drivers alert while on the road. The specific content of these regulations is of great significance in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Once the plaintiff proves that the driver violated a safety regulation, it normally becomes much easier to prove that he was negligent (careless). If a truck driver’s negligence caused the car accident, the plaintiff is entitled to compensation for his or her losses.

Gathering Evidence

To win a lawsuit or a settlement in a trucking accident case, a plaintiff must submit solid evidence proving that the truck driver was negligent. Gathering admissible evidence is often the most challenging aspect of asserting a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Since the DOT requires truckers and trucking companies to keep extensive records of working hours and distances traveled, one way of assembling documentary evidence is to demand that the trucking company produce these records.

These records might clearly demonstrate that the truck driver has exceeded his working hour limits at the time of the accident. Even if the driver deliberately falsified these records in order to work longer hours, an experienced attorney can review them for inconsistencies or omissions that may prove that the driver has something to hide.

Many sources of evidence are available to prove a trucking accident claim. Among these, the content of the truck’s “black box” (on-board data recorder) and footage from traffic cameras are among the most commonly used.

Filing a Lawsuit

A Tampa personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is governed by Florida state law. Two of the most important features of Florida personal injury law are the statute of limitations and the comparative fault rule.

The statute of limitations generally requires the plaintiff to file a personal injury lawsuit within four years of the date of the accident. If someone died in the accident, the surviving spouse and/or dependent children are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit within four years of the victim’s death.

If the plaintiff was partly to blame for the accident, the comparative fault rule allows the court to deduct an amount from his damages that is proportional to his degree of fault. A plaintiff can recover some of his damages, even if he was mostly at fault.

Fighting Back

If a Tampa trucking accident death or injury has devastated you or your family, you are entitled to obtain full compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering and other tangible and intangible losses. Under such trying circumstances, it is imperative that you retain the services of an experienced and dedicated attorney to make it all happen for you.

The Tampa car wreck attorneys at Alley, Clark & Greiwe stand confidently on their long track record of success in these types of cases. Contact us online or call us at 813-222-0977 for your free initial consultation.

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