Headline-making truck accidents are all too common. In New Jersey, the infamous fatal truck accident between a Walmart driver and a vehicle carrying comedian Tracy Morgan on June 7, 2014 in Cranbury, made headlines then and continues to make headlines today. In that case, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined driver fatigue was the cause of the truck accident. One thing is certain, truck drivers involved in fatal accidents never expect an accident will happen to them. According to NTSB vice-chairman Bruce Landsberg, “In every one of the 4,630 fatal large truck and bus crashes in 2018, every single driver was positive that it was just going to be another routine trip.”
NTSB Senior Human Performance Investigator Dr. Jana Price has said that “more than one in 10 serious highway crashes are associated with driver fatigue.” If you’re involved in a truck accident, the most obvious source of liability is the truck driver himself or herself, but truck accident claims are complicated – and liability can take a variety of forms. In the case of truck driver fatigue, is the driver always negligent and liable for the accident?
Driver Fatigue: Driver Liability
Because truck driver fatigue can lead to serious injuries and fatalities, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) developed what are called Hours of Service Rules, which limit how much a trucker can drive without rest. For example, for property-carrying truck drivers, they cannot drive more than 11 hours at a time, after spending 10 hours off duty. The problem is that historically, truck drivers have been known to ignore these limits, thereby dramatically increasing the chances of a drowsy driving crash. Additionally, as in the truck accident involving Tracy Morgan, the truck driver may have spent many non-working hours driving immediately leading up to the crash.
Driver Fatigue: Trucking Company Liability
The trucking company is also required to maintain safety standards by maintaining safe rigs; hiring safe, reliable, and experienced truck drivers; hiring experienced truck mechanics and providing them with the quality tools and parts they need to keep the fleet running safely. Additionally, the trucking company should be implementing careful safety and maintenance protocols and not pushing their drivers beyond the bounds set by strict hours-of-service regulations. In some truck accidents involving driver fatigue, liability could lie with both the driver and the trucking company.
Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
Are you considering talking to an attorney about an injury you or a loved one sustained in a truck accident? At, Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we believe in compassion and empathy and want to help. Contact us today for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success, we can get you the justice you deserve.