Truck driver fatigue is a much larger threat than most people realize, and it is responsible for a high number of serious and fatal truck accidents each year. As a result, it’s critically important to determine whether fatigued driving may have contributed to your accident. When a truck driver is operating a vehicle while drowsy, chances are that the driver’s employer is also to blame for that behavior.
Truckers Violating Hours of Service Rules
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency responsible for regulating the interstate trucking industry. In an effort to improve driver alertness and prevent drowsy driving crashes, the FMCSA worked long and hard to develop hours of service rules that limit when and for how long commercial drivers may legally be behind the wheel without stopping to rest for a specific period of time.
The rules are common sense and based on scientific research, but the trucking industry has pushed back at every attempt to implement them, claiming they are inefficient and bad for business. This has led to inconsistent enforcement of the rules and many legal challenges. Thankfully, for now, the rules remain in place.
Unfortunately, many drivers look for ways to violate hours of service rules in order to stay on the road longer without adequate rest. Similarly, trucking companies seeking to protect their bottom line push drivers, even those who are ordinarily conscientious, to drive while fatigued. The result is an unacceptably high rate of fatigued driving crashes. WIth that said, it isn’t always easy to know whether fatigue played a role in any specific crash until that collision is investigated by an attorney for the victim(s). Our experienced Tri-Cities, WA personal injury lawyer team is honored to serve in this capacity for our clients.
Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea
One of the significant contributing factors to truck driver fatigue is a medical condition known as sleep apnea. Apnea occurs when the tongue and soft tissue in the throat collapses during sleep, blocking the airways and causing the person to stop breathing for short periods many times per night. Even if the sufferer doesn’t wake up from the disrupted breathing, the quality of sleep they receive is terrible and will leave them feeling fatigued.
This condition is often related to weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle, which is highly probable as a truck driver. Moreover, commercial truck drivers seem to suffer from sleep apnea at higher rates than the general public. The estimated prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea among adult men in general is about 3 to 7 percent. One study of commercial truck drivers found that up to 28 percent of drivers suffered from sleep apnea.
Many may not know they suffer from it, but the danger is nonetheless very real. Research shows that drivers with sleep apnea are five times more likely than the average person to be involved in a crash.
Understanding Insurance Companies
If you have been the victim of a truck accident, you might know that the claims' process can be considerably complicated. To ease some of these challenges, you should retain a personal injury lawyer Tri-Cities, WA has to offer. Once you do so you can feel peace of mind in knowing that your rights and interests will be better protected.
How Insurance Companies Work
Once a truck accident happens, the insurance companies will get involved. The one related to the truck driver or company will assign an adjuster (s) to the case. It will be up to him or her to investigate what happened and make a fast settlement offer. It is their goal to offer you the least amount possible, and with the hopes that you will accept it. As you are reading this you might even recall an offer made to you, that you felt, was way too low. At the time this was offered, you might have been told things like:
- You don't need a lawyer.
- This is the only time we will make this offer.
- If you don't accept it, you could lose your case.
- We believe you are partially at fault.
- We are doing our best.
- There is nothing more we can offer you.
You might feel upset and overwhelmed about statements like these, and even more concerned about the amount. Please know these are very common tactics used against victims of accidents. Regardless of what they are saying you are not obligated to take their word. In fact, you should always speak with a personal injury lawyer in Tri-Cities, WA for advice and guidance.
What You Should Remember
The insurance adjuster will not tell you that they don't want to go to court, and this is where you have the upper hand. Things to remember include:
- Insurance adjusters will likely try to discredit you.
- They may call upon your medical records, police report, and witness statements.
- Your personal background may be investigated.
- Your social media could be used against you.
With their investigation, they may apply a strategic set of rules to calculate an amount they think is fair. Sometimes, their offer will be made prior to the completion of your treatment! In general, if the adjustor believes your case is strong, and a trial is likely, the amount may be much larger. Whereas, less compelling cases may be much less than what you need.
By retaining a Tri-Cities, Washington personal injury lawyer, your rights and interests will be protected. A lawyer can:
- Investigate your case
- Ensure you get medical treatment
- Communicate with the insurance company
- Negotiate with the insurance company
- Navigate the laws, strategies, and tactics used by all parties
- Recover maximum damages
Truck accidents can be catastrophic. The associated losses can be into the tens of thousands of dollars. If negligence was a factor, please call our firm as soon as possible.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Case for Free
As the victim of a trucking accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and to reduce the likelihood that others will have to suffer the same injuries you did. To discuss your case with an experienced Tri-Cities, WA personal injury lawyer, contact Telare Law office today.