Columbus Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Lawyer
Trucks are everywhere, at every time of day, on every road in America. Trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and, for the most part, skilled drivers do a pretty good job of driving safely under every condition.
However, there are powerful incentives for drivers to push the envelope and drive longer hours than is prudent. Sometimes weather conditions impede delivery, and drivers will push on into the night to get the load in on time. Sometimes there is an early delivery bonus. Sometimes they make a calculation that a few more hours on the road today could mean spending time at home with their families tomorrow. It is human for an experienced driver to think they can handle the pressure, the vehicle, and the schedule. So, they drive for longer hours and eventually get tired behind the wheel. They then cause accidents that involve an 80,000-pound vehicle slamming into other vehicles at highway speeds.
Why Do I Need a Truck Driver Fatigue Lawyer?
The basic physics of a loaded truck colliding with a car make it very dangerous for the occupants of the car. There can be catastrophic injuries and huge damage to the vehicle. What’s more, insurance carriers for the trucking industry are experienced at litigating truck accident lawsuits, since that is what they do. They know the ins and outs of laws and regulations governing driving time and other practices in every jurisdiction, including Ohio. They will do whatever is necessary to keep the damage payout from a truck accident as low as they can.
For all of these reasons, it is essential that you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your case. At Rinehardt Law Firm, we have lawyers well-versed in these cases who know how to protect you from the insurance carrier while getting you the highest reasonable damage award to cover your medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering caused by a collision with an 18-wheeler or another kind of truck.
Why Choose Rinehardt Law Firm?
Just like the truck driver who drove a few hours longer than he should have, the reason you should work with Rinehardt Law Firm gets back to incentives. For the insurance carrier, it is essential to keep the lawsuit payouts as low as possible, and they are willing to play hardball if necessary. They don’t care how badly you are injured, or that you can’t sleep at night because you keep remembering the accident. They are focused on the needs of their business.
But the one thing they do not want is to end up in court litigating a case in which a drowsy driver slammed into a passenger vehicle and seriously injured one or more people. That is definitely not good for business. Rinehardt Law Firm’s lawyers are skilled litigators, and the insurance carriers do not want to find themselves in court with our lawyers at the other table. We have a well-known reputation for winning personal injury lawsuits that go to court.
Just as important is the fact that we never lose sight of our clients’ needs. A major vehicle accident disrupts just about everything in your life: your ability to work, the well-being of your family, and your physical comfort. You are not just a case to us. You are a human being, and we will take the time to discuss the details of your accident and how we will proceed with your lawsuit. We will keep communicating with you throughout the entire process.
Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Cases We Handle
We are experienced in handling the following types of truck accidents cases:
- Rollover accidents
- Accidents with severe injuries
- Accidents with a car getting pushed into oncoming traffic
- Accidents with car totaled by truck
- And accidents with fatalities
What is Truck Driver Fatigue?
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that for each hour of sleep a driver doesn’t get, accident risks increase. Drivers who sleep eight hours in a row are half as likely to get into an accident as drivers who sleep six or seven hours. Drivers who’ve slept only four or five continual hours are 15 times more likely to veer off the road than those who’ve slept eight. That is a huge increase in risk for all the other drivers sharing the road with that truck.
How Do These Accidents Happen?
Truck driver fatigue leads to specific behaviors harmful to other vehicles. Truck drivers may swerve noticeably on the road and find it difficult to maintain their lane. They may find it difficult to pay attention to the road or find their judgment impaired by fatigue. This could mean missing an important sign, or thinking they have more room to make a turn than they do. Studies have shown that everyone has slower reaction time when tired, and truck drivers, no matter how many years they have been driving the big rigs, are no exception. They may even fall asleep at the wheel, possibly causing a fatal crash if they hit another vehicle going at full speed.
A study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that nearly two-thirds of truck drivers report that they feel drowsy while driving “often or sometimes” and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.
Despite these statistics, in 2003, federal regulators actually increased the amount of time drivers can legally drive in a 14-hour work window from 10 to 11 consecutive hours. That one-hour increase in time spent driving can increase the risk of an accident.
What type of injuries could victims suffer?
Most car-on-car accidents result in relatively minor injuries unless the cars were traveling at high speeds or there was a rollover. That is often not the case with truck-on-car accidents. The difference in size and weight of the vehicles, the length of time it takes for a truck to stop and the fact that most 18-wheelers are driving on the highway at highway speeds can result in major injuries for the occupants of the vehicles they hit.
Injuries passengers are at risk for include:
- Major head injuries and/or traumatic brain injuries
- Debilitating back and neck injuries
- Multiple broken bones, including legs, hips, and arms
- And lacerations to the face or other areas
Negligence Statutes in the State
Ohio is a comparative negligence state, which means a critical part of the lawsuit negotiation or trial will be the assessment of relative fault on the part of the two drivers (of the truck and the other vehicle). Once the damage award is determined, the percentage of negligence on the part of the plaintiff will be deducted from the damage award to the plaintiff. If the negligence is 51 percent or greater, the plaintiff will not receive damages.
How to Prove Negligence
The truck driver can be found negligent if found to be impaired by fatigue. Other important factors include the “proximate cause” of the accident, or which parties’ actions lead directly to the crash and if the defendant’s actions did cause the injuries.
What Type of Compensation Could I Be Eligible For?
It is difficult to predict with certainty what you may be awarded in damages for a truck driver fatigue accident. Damages fall into three main categories: economic damages, including medical and rehabilitative expenses, property damage, and lost work time. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering and stress caused by the accident.
What do I do after a collision with a truck?
Get medical attention immediately if you or anyone else in the vehicle is injured. That is your priority. If you are able to, provide the authorities with your information and explain to the police what happened if asked.
The trucking company’s insurance adjuster called me. Should I talk to them?
It is extremely important that you do not talk directly to the opposing insurance company. Their only interest is to minimize the damage award. The best thing to do is hire a good lawyer, like the attorneys at Rinehardt Law Firm, and let them handle the other insurance company. The adjuster will probably say you can get the damage award faster by talking to them. Do not do it, as it will lower the damage award.
A collision with a tractor-trailer or other large truck can be incredibly damaging to you and your loved ones. It really changes your whole life, and we want to work with you to be sure you get justice and the resources you need to put your life on the right road again. Rinehardt Law Firm has handled many personal injury cases involving trucks, and we have a proven record of success. We know the tactics the insurance companies deploy to keep the damage award low, and we always keep in mind our responsibility to clients’ health and peace of mind. Call us today at (419) 529-2020 for a consult and we can start fighting for you.