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When cars collide with tractor trailers, the people involved can suffer long-term injuries. Between physical injuries, dealing with insurance companies, and uncertainty from lost wages, the aftermath of a truck accident can be a confusing and stressful time. The Nashville truck accident attorneys of Matt Hardin Law help injured people get their lives back in order. If you have been injured in a truck accident involving truck driver fatigue or another cause, we can help you seek compensation for your injuries.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) is the federal agency that regulates truck drivers and trucking companies. According to the FMCSA, truck drivers cannot legally drive more than 11 consecutive hours in a single day or in excess of 60 hours over a span of seven consecutive days. A truck driver may also incur liability if he drives when tired, regardless of the number of hours he has driven.
When a trucker negligently drives when she shouldn’t, the people she injures can file a lawsuit. To prevail in such a lawsuit the plaintiff must prove three essential elements.
The plaintiff must prove that the truck driver owed a duty of reasonable care. This is a straightforward proposition in most truck accident cases. Truck drivers owe a duty of reasonable care — that is, to act as a reasonable person would in similar circumstances — to everyone else on the road. This means that when you are a driver or passenger in a car, a motorcyclist, pedestrian, or bicyclist, truck drivers owe you the duty of reasonable care.
Next, the plaintiff is required to prove that the truck driver breached the duty. In truck driver fatigue cases, this is almost always done by presenting evidence that the trucker was either too tired to drive or over the FMCA hours limit. Driving when fatigued is not reasonable behavior and serves as evidence of the breach of duty.
Finally, the plaintiff proves that the trucker’s actions proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries. If the trucker caused an accident because she lost control of her truck, was late to brake, or drifted into another lane due to fatigue, this constitutes causation. Almost any situation wherein a truck driver breached her duty and causes an injury accident will be sufficient to establish causation.
In a truck driver fatigue case, the trucker’s driver logs will be vital evidence that could make proving the plaintiff’s case much easier. If the driver was fatigued, it is very likely that she has violated one of the driving time rules. If this is true, it would allow the plaintiff to prove not that the truck driver was simply tired, but that she violated a safety rule, making the issue one of numbers, rather than the mental acuity of the driver.
Because driver logs are now widely kept as electronic files, it is easy for them to be deleted or destroyed in the normal course of business recordkeeping. Thus, people involved in a truck accident should contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident to increase the chances of important evidence being preserved.
Truck drivers who drive when unreasonably tired put other people’s lives at risk. If you were injured in a truck accident, look for attorneys who understand how to litigate these complex cases and deal with insurance companies. The Nashville injury attorneys of Matt Hardin Law have significant experience helping injured Tennesseans recover compensation for serious injuries sustained in truck accidents. Call (615) 200-1111 or email us to schedule a free case evaluation.