Being involved in a collision with a large truck can be extremely costly, both to your health and to your property. If your vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer, it likely sustained major damage as you were injured in the process. You may wonder what your next options are.
After your Birmingham tractor-trailer crash, it’s important to seek legal help. A Birmingham personal injury lawyer can help you determine the cause of your crash and seek compensation for your injuries and property loss from the trucking company and more. You deserve justice, and you may be able to receive financial help for your medical bills, therapy costs, the value of your car, and other damages.
In order to have a high chance of securing compensation in your Birmingham truck crash case, all factors involved in your accident must be investigated. One common factor in commercial vehicle collisions is driver fatigue. If you were injured in an accident with a fatigued truck driver, you don’t have to face the consequences alone! At Norris Injury Lawyers, we are available 24/7 – call now at (800) 477-7510.
What Causes Truck Drivers to Suffer Fatigue
Most of us are familiar with fatigue: we start to yawn; it feels difficult to keep our eyes open. These natural bodily functions are nudging us to get some much-needed shut-eye. However, when fatigue occurs while a person is operating large machinery like a tractor-trailer, such sleepy tendencies can be dangerous or even fatal.
Driver fatigue can be caused by simply not getting enough sleep or by being awake for too many consecutive hours. Additionally, our body’s internal clock and sleep/wake cycle can cause us to be sleepy at a set time. This is especially true in the early morning hours when the biological urge to sleep is the strongest.
Another cause of driver fatigue has to do with engaging in long periods of inactivity or monotonous tasks – driving on a tranquil highway, for example. Eventually, as the fatigue grows stronger, the white lines and constant traffic sounds can lull the driver into a less-than-alert mental state, or cause that person to doze for short periods of time. This is extremely dangerous, as even a slight veer from the vehicle’s lane can have disastrous consequences for that driver and other people on the road.
What Fatigue Can Do to a Driver
Concerning fatigue, the CDC reports that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day. Fatigue impairs driving just like alcohol. After 17 consecutive hours awake, impairment is the same as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05. After 24 hours awake, impairment is equivalent to a BAC of .10. It also reported that as many as 1 in 5 fatal crashes involve driver fatigue.
Trucking companies are meant to follow the federal regulations for the maximum hours a driver is allowed to operate his or her vehicle. Nevertheless, this is not always the case. In addition, these regulations don’t allow for individual differences in sleep needs and health. Trucking companies are pushed against deadlines and sometimes overextend their drivers in order to meet them.
How Birmingham Truck Accidents Differ From Regular Car Accidents
While many Birmingham residents may have been involved in a car accident previously, a commercial vehicle crash may dwell in a different realm of personal injury law. How so? Well, for one thing, most tractor-trailer collisions involve more than one defendant.
Possible defendants in trucking accidents include:
- The truck drivers
- The trucking company that employs the driver
- The company that maintained the vehicle
- The owner of the truck
Any or all of these parties may be held liable for the injuries incurred in a tractor-trailer collision. It all depends on the specific circumstances of the case at hand.
The truck drivers
If your Birmingham large vehicle crash was caused by driver fatigue and negligence, he or she can be held liable for your injuries and losses.
The trucking company
The driver’s employer, the trucking company, may be held liable, applying the principle by law that the employer can be liable for the negligence of its employees. Additionally, if the trucking company in your case contributed to the Birmingham truck driver’s fatigue by pushing him or her to meet deadlines, that person could be found culpable for your injuries.
The maintenance company
If the accident was caused by faulty parts, such as brakes that weren’t installed properly, or lack of care after wear and tear, the maintenance company may be found partially responsible for the injuries incurred in the accident as well. A fatigued driver may already have a delayed reaction time, and when the parts in the commercial vehicle aren’t functioning as they should, even more disastrous consequences could be expected.
If the vehicle is owned by someone else other than the truck drivers or the employer, compensation may also be sought from the owner of the tractor-trailer.
Another way in which commercial collisions differ from your run-of-the-mill car accident is how they are subject to unique federal regulations. Truckers are subject to specific regulations that may not affect other drivers. These regulations, as detailed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, include rules on the truck’s maintenance, pre-drive checks, and how long a trucker can drive until he or she must rest.
If these regulations were not followed to the letter, resulting in driver fatigue and error, you may have a solid case. The best way to know is to contact a lawyer who is intimately familiar with Alabama driver fatigue case law. Call Norris’ accident attorneys in Birmingham, AL, for your free case consultation.
What You Need to Prove
In Alabama, the laws governing personal injury claims that involve large vehicles require that the victim be cleared of contributory negligence. This means that you must have been obeying the traffic laws completely when your collision with the large vehicle occurred. If you were going over the speed limit, driving under the influence, or doing something else that pins some of the blame on you, you will be unable to collect any compensation for your injuries, no matter how much the large truck driver was at fault.
After proving yourself free of any contributory negligence, you must prove that the other driver was acting negligently when he or she collided with you. Proving driver fatigue may be challenging, as the concept of negligence is complicated. It’s always best to seek help from a skilled Birmingham accident lawyer before trying to seek compensation for yourself.
In addition to investigating and proving your case, our competent accident attorneys will help you prove that the other driver breached his or her duty of care by breaking a traffic law or by driving fatigued, which caused your accident and the subsequent damages to you. While this may seem straightforward enough, driver fatigue cases are notoriously hard to prove. The sooner you get started on your Birmingham case, the better.
Beware of These Insurance Tactics
After your accident, the trucking company’s insurer will have its own plan of attack to get you to settle for the lowest amount possible. In order to avoid these traps, you should beware of the following behaviors of unscrupulous insurance companies:
- Calling immediately after your accident
- Asking to see all your medical records
- Offering you a quick settlement
- Having you sign a lot of “boilerplate” paperwork
All of these behaviors on the part of insurance companies can lead to a reduction in the settlement amount you may receive. It’s therefore vital that, before you speak with anyone at the truck’s insurance company or sign any document, you speak with a personal injury lawyer who knows Alabama trucking laws.
Don’t jeopardize your future by relying on yourself, talk to an accident lawyer who cares. Norris Injury Lawyers are available 24/7 to discuss your case in a free consultation.
Your Next Step
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tries to keep us safe on the roads, sadly, we are often presented with dangerous situations due to driver negligence. One of the most common forms is that of driver fatigue. We know all too well that a fatigued driver can cause severe harm to themselves and other drivers on the road.
If you or your loved ones were injured in a Birmingham truck accident due to driver fatigue, you deserve justice for your suffering. You are likely facing mounting medical bills, serious property loss, emotional turmoil, and more. You need assistance and support.
Look to Norris Injury Lawyers for compassionate and personalized help when you need it. Each Norris lawyer is dedicated to providing quality legal representation and fighting diligently on behalf of each and every client so that you can focus on what’s really important – your recovery.
To take the next step in your journey towards recovery, fill out an online case evaluation form or contact us now at (800) 477-7510 for a free case evaluation. Don’t wait until it’s too late – we’re standing by to stand up for you.