If you were involved in a sleep-related truck accident in Tampa, you have legal remedies available to recover your losses. For example, truck drivers must follow strict Hours of Service regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Failing to follow these regulations can result in fines for drivers and trucking companies—but more importantly, a failure to follow these regulations could provide critical evidence in your compensation claim.
Dangers Of Drowsy Driving For Truck Drivers
While it is dangerous for anyone to drive while tired, it is especially so for truck drivers because of the size of their vehicles and the cargo they carry. Unfortunately, drowsiness can produce devastating results on the road.
Serious accidents can occur when a drowsy truck driver crashes into a smaller passenger vehicle, and the resulting injuries can be severe. Unfortunately, sleepy or fatigued drivers don’t have the same reaction time as they would if fully refreshed. As a result, they might veer into oncoming traffic, causing head-on collisions, or they might fail to brake or turn when necessary.
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), drowsy driving can affect drivers in many ways:
- Slower reaction times
- Slowed thought processes
- Affected vision
- Impaired judgment
- Dozing off at the wheel
What To Do If You Have Been Involved In A Truck Accident?
Your priority following a truck accident should be seeking immediate medical attention. Once a doctor has treated your injuries, consider seeking legal assistance so that you can obtain the compensation you deserve.
Who Is At Fault In A Sleep-Related Accident?
Multiple parties might be at fault if a truck driver causes a sleep-related accident. Obviously, the driver is the first person to be considered liable after an accident—and rightfully so. However, other potentially responsible parties include the following:
- Trucking companies
- Fleet mechanics
- Truck parts manufacturers
For example, if a supervisor forced the driver to forego federal law and operate the vehicle for more hours than regulations allow, you could hold the trucking company solely or partially responsible for your losses.
Your lawyer will review traffic camera footage, eyewitness testimonies, and the expertise of professionals to prove who was responsible for the accident.
Your attorney will do everything possible to secure maximum compensation for your damages. However, it is vital that you inform your lawyer of everything in your life that has changed since your accident. For example, you must tell them about physical and mental health problems that have affected your daily life.
While you may only consider compensation to cover your medical bills and lost income, you could also be entitled to awards for noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering and diminished quality of life.
Even if you are unsure if something is recoverable, mention it to your lawyer. They’ll determine whether you can include a loss in your claim. After all, the at-fault parties should have to pay for every loss you sustained in your truck accident in Tampa.
Adhere to the Statute of Limitations
You must adhere to Florida’s statute of limitations to recover your damages. Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a) allows you to bring a lawsuit against the liable parties up to two years from the accident date. Unfortunately, if you do meet this deadline, you might not receive any compensation. However, exceptions could apply to your case, so let your legal team determine how long you have to file.
How Could Hours of Service Violations Affect My Case?
Suppose the truck driver who crashed into you violated the federally mandated Hours of Service regulations. If so, you might have an easier time proving liability, as the court will take this violation into consideration. However, actually proving that they violated these regulations might be more challenging than you think.
Federal law prohibits commercial truck drivers from exceeding these time limits:
- Driving more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
- Driving 14 consecutive hours
- Driving more than eight hours without taking a 30-minute break
- Driving more than 60 or 70 hours over seven or eight consecutive days
Truck drivers must keep accurate log books to document their hours of service properly. If they do not keep a log book or falsify their numbers, they could face fines of over $13,000 per day.
Your lawyer will review log books and communications between the driver and the trucking company to determine whether an Hours of Service violation occurred before your accident.
Truck Accident Dangers
According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 5,000 people died in large truck crashes in 2020. Nationwide, nearly nine percent of all vehicles involved in fatal accidents were trucks. However, Florida was below the national average for truck accident fatalities, with 7.2 percent of all fatal accidents involving a truck.
Although Florida’s numbers were lower than the national average, the numbers are still alarming—344 fatalities in 2020. Thus, knowing the dangers of encountering an 18-wheeler or large commercial truck— especially late at night or on particularly difficult-to-navigate roads—can help you take extra precautions to keep yourself safe.
Contact a Lawyer Who Can Help
Were you involved in a sleep-related truck accident along I-275, I-4, the Veteran’s Expressway, or another Tampa-area roadway? A truck accident lawyer can fight for the compensation you deserve to maintain your family’s finances and cover the medical and repair bills that piled up while you couldn’t work.
The insurance companies might determine fault, but your attorney will work on your behalf to ensure they consider all aspects of the accident. Thus, you can recover from your injuries, assured that someone has your best interests in mind. So, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
We Can Help.