In recent years, a hot-topic issue of awareness is driving while fatigued and the danger sleepy drivers pose to everyone on the road. Drowsy driving is hazardous for any motorist, especially when the tired operator in question is behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound large commercial truck capable of annihilating smaller vehicles in its path.
Driver fatigue plays a role in up to 100,000 accidents reported each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is likely a conservative estimate, considering that many motorists who caused an accident while drowsy may be reluctant to admit it.
While anyone who operates a vehicle without adequate rest can be a drowsy driver, commercial truck drivers appear to be particularly susceptible to this behavior. It could be due to the many hours they spend on the road. If you were injured in a crash caused by a commercial driver who you believe was drowsy or dozing off at the time of the accident, contact our Indianapolis truck accident lawyer today.
What is Highway Hypnosis?
Also known as white line fever, highway hypnosis is a phenomenon that’s common among truck drivers and other people who spend a lot of time on the road. Watching the road for long periods of time can put truckers in a dazed, trance-like state where the body still performs all the functions of driving, but the mind is elsewhere. In this condition, the driver is technically awake, but his brain activity more closely resembles that of someone who is asleep.
Some truckers may wonder: if their bodies are still capable of driving why it matters if they’re a little “zoned out?” The answer is simple. The mind works much slower in this trance-like state, which can cause reduced reaction times. The weight of large commercial vehicles means operators require greater stopping distance and other special handling, so it’s important for them to be able to react to traffic issues, road hazards, or adverse weather conditions as quickly as possible.
Additionally, highway hypnosis can cause an already tired trucker to become even sleepier, which greatly increases his chances of falling asleep while driving.
The Problem of Driver Fatigue
Despite all the research available on the dangers of drowsy driving, some commercial truck operators and other motorists still refuse to take it seriously. They just don’t see driving while being a little sleepy as being that bad.
According to research from the National Sleep Foundation, driving while sleepy can be every bit as impairing as driving under the influence of alcohol. For example, after being awake for 18 hours straight, a driver has the reaction capabilities of someone with a blood-alcohol level of .05 — and .08 is considered legally intoxicated. A trucker who’s been awake for a full 24 hours has the reaction capabilities of someone with a blood-alcohol level of .10.
FMCSA Hours-of-Service Rules
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates interstate trucking in the United States. In 2013, it implemented hours-of-service rules in an attempt to combat drowsy driving and related accidents. The rules limit the length of a driver’s road shift, and mandate breaks and other rest periods.
While these regulations should go a long way toward reducing the number of drowsy commercial drivers on the road, the FMCSA rules aren’t well-received by some people in the trucking industry. In fact, to meet certain demands, many truckers continue to work beyond the specified hours of service and simply falsify their daily service logs to feign compliance.
For a free legal consultation with a drowsy truck driver accidents lawyer serving Indianapolis, call 317-636-7777
Our Truck Accident Lawyer Can Access the Trucker’s Logbook
If you decide to represent yourself in an insurance claim or lawsuit after a drowsy trucker accident, you might find it difficult to gain access to the trucker’s logbook. Unlike discount law firms, personal injury law is all we do. That means we know how to access the driver’s logbook and other valuable information, including:
- The trucker’s driving record and history
- The truck’s service and maintenance records
- The employer’s demands on the trucker
- Data from the truck’s onboard computer
Your fight for compensation will depend on the assessment of the evidence presented in your case. To bolster and support your fight for financial recovery, we also collect the following supportive evidence:
- Witness statements
- The truck accident report
- Photos and videos
Our goal is to build a robust case file that drives negotiations. We gather and organize your evidence before submitting it to the at-fault party and their insurance company. We also identify the appropriate at-fault party to pursue since it could be either the driver or the company he drives for.
Indianapolis Drowsy Truck Driver Accident Lawyer Near Me 317-636-7777
Common Truck Accident Damages
The financial impact of a truck accident starts immediately. At the accident scene, you may require a tow truck to remove your vehicle and an ambulance to transport you and any other injured parties to the closest emergency room.
The compensation we can help you request include:
- Immediate and long-term medical bills. These awards can include hospital, in-home care, and long-term physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages from all income streams. This award can include full and part-time employment, business losses, and freelance and gig economy income.
- Pain and suffering. You might have physical and emotional trauma from the injuries you sustained and from the recovery process.
- Property damage for your vehicle. This damage can include repair costs and your vehicle’s replacement value if your vehicle is declared a total loss. It can also include compensation for your vehicle’s diminished value.
- Lasting physical disabilities and disfigurements. This category can include scarring and other deformities.
If your family lost one of its members in a truck accident, you could also recover wrongful death damages. These awards can include funeral costs, burial expenses, and loss of consortium and companionship.
Do Not Wait to Pursue the Other Party
The personal injury statute of limitations in Indiana is generally two years, according to IC § 34-11-2-4. The statute of limitations is a complicated legal issue that can change based on several extenuating factors. The best way to understand it — and to ensure compliance — is to review it with a member of our team.
Failing to comply with the statute of limitations could mean:
- You cannot file your lawsuit at all.
- Your lawsuit will be dismissed without being heard.
- You will have no legal avenue left to recover damages.
With sufficient notice, our personal injury team will ensure compliance with the statute of limitations. We also make sure you avoid the negative consequences of non-compliance and avoid losing your right to seek compensation.
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Do You Need a Truck Accident Attorney?
Were you injured in a serious truck accident caused by a fatigued commercial driver? If so, you may be eligible for compensation for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and more. Contact Sevenish Law Firm, P.C., at