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Can truck drivers sue their employers for fatigue-related incidents? Dive into the details and learn all about your legal options.

Can Truck Drivers Sue Their Companies for Fatigue-Related Accidents?

With a law degree under his belt, Mark Scott understood very early that law communication was a relatively neglected area. He decided to help people by “translating” the language and offering information and advice in a clear, useful, and actionable manner. For this reason, instead of finding him in court, you will most likely find his name online, where he is very active and thriving as a legal columnist. His part of making the world a better place is to make the law a less convoluted maze. He aims to make it easier for people to understand when and how to seek legal counsel, how to proceed in a significant number of legal matters, and to find the proper resources so they can stand up for their rights.

Can Truck Drivers Sue Their Companies for Fatigue-Related Accidents?

Truck drivers can actually sue their companies for compensation if they can prove that the companies broke the law. Many companies ignore regulations that limit the hours that truck drivers can work. Company logs can confirm that a company violated the law and likely caused fatigue with work pressure. 

However, it’s important to confirm the violation as quickly as possible. Trucking companies only have to keep logbook records for six months. Many companies routinely purge records as soon as the six months have elapsed. In fact, trucking companies with little regard for regulations might purge any records that show violations before the six months pass.

This is one of the reasons to speak with a Greenville truck accident lawyer immediately after being involved in an accident. An experienced lawyer knows how to put you in the best position by demanding certain evidence be preserved. If companies destroy the evidence anyway, it can be taken as proof of malfeasance during the trial.

Negligent Hiring and Supervising Activities

Trucking companies that are negligent in their hiring, supervising, or managing of truck drivers open themselves up to liability. Truck drivers are insured, but coverage limits might be insufficient to cover catastrophic accidents. 

These happen quite often during truck crashes because commercial trucks can weigh 30 times as much as standard passenger vehicles. Stopping times are longer, and trucks carry extreme momentum into a crash.

Trucking companies can be held liable for damages in cases where it can be proved the company was negligent. Proof of negligence might not be necessary for accidents caused by fatigued drivers. The truck driver’s employer can be held responsible under doctrines of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. If the plaintiff can prove that the driver falsified logbook records, they can sue under the doctrine of negligent supervision.

Negligent supervision can also be used by truck drivers as a cause of action. That enables truck drivers to sue their employers for personal damages caused during an accident. The catastrophic nature of most truck accidents often causes accidental injuries that exceed insurance coverage limits.

The Role of Fatigue in Accidents

According to the National Institutes of Health, a recent survey found that almost half of all truck drivers admitted to nodding off while driving. 2017 became the most lethal year for tractor-trailer drivers. Of the 5,147 fatal work injuries in the United States that year, transportation accidents accounted for 47% of that number.

The impact of fatigue includes responsibility for 82,000 crashes, 886 deaths, and 37,000 injuries in 2014. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that drowsy driving causes 16.5% of fatal crashes and 7% of all crashes.

Ensuring Adequate Truck Driver Supervision

Employers of truck drivers can make a difference in fatal accident rates by embracing their supervisory responsibilities. First, companies should not ignore regulations that guarantee rest breaks for stressed and overworked drivers. Those really serious about supervisory duties can offer employee screening of sleep disorders like sleep apnea. 

Monitoring technology can identify when drivers need a break to overcome fatigue more accurately than standardized breaks based on elapsed work time. Companies can also work hard to implement fatigue prevention efforts and educate employees about the dangers of fatigue.

Employers of transportation workers have a unique opportunity and responsibility to optimize working conditions and hazard controls to prevent fatigue-related transportation accidents. They can accomplish this through a combination of sleep disorder screening and monitoring measures, engineering controls, fatigue prevention/management policies, and education.

Talking to a Greensville Lawyer

It is critical that you hire an experienced truck accident lawyer to make sense of accidental injuries that involve trucker employer negligence. Negligence can be used as the basis for additional injury compensation. It might be possible to sue your employer to make up shortfalls in coverage and even receive non-economic damages for pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages for your employer’s negligence.

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