When drivers do not get enough rest, their reaction times are often delayed. Many accidents result from sleepy or fatigued drivers falling asleep at the wheel and losing control of their vehicles. Sadly, this inattentiveness sometimes leads to devastating collisions.

Driving while tired is negligent behavior, but the stakes are far higher when the driver is operating a large commercial vehicle. If you suffered injuries in a fatigued truck driving accident in Houston, contact an injury attorney at Roberts Markland LLP as soon as possible. A skilled legal professional could help you prove the driver negligent and force them to pay for your injuries.

Truck Drivers Must Obey Strict Working Hours Limits

Driving a truck is difficult and requires attentiveness and skill. Trucks’ steering and brakes respond sluggishly, stopping and accelerating are slow, and large blind spots on each side prevent drivers from seeing other vehicles ahead, behind, or in adjacent lanes. A tired trucker unaware of their surroundings could easily cause an accident in Houston.

Recognizing the inherent danger truck traffic poses to occupants of other vehicles sharing the highway, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issues strict working hours rules that apply to truck drivers, including:

  • Taking a 30-minute break every eight hours of cumulative driving time
  • Not driving more than 11 hours in a day
  • Refraining from operating more than 14 hours after being off-duty for at least 10 hours
  • Not driving after 60 hours on duty in seven days or 70 hours on duty in eight days

Truck drivers must keep a log showing their breaks and driving time. When a truck accident causes an injury, drivers may be required to provide their logbook and the trucking company’s delivery schedule. This information could be evidence of negligence if the driver did not comply with driving time laws, or the trucking company was forcing the driver to meet an unreasonable schedule.

How Can an Injured Party That a Fatigued Trucker Caused a Collision?

Texas uses a fault-based system for settling vehicle accident claims, meaning the responsible driver’s insurance company must pay the damages of anyone injured in a crash up to the policy limits. An at-fault driver is personally liable if they have no insurance or their policy is insufficient to cover an injured person’s damages.

In most vehicle accident cases, negligence is a failure to take reasonable care to protect others from foreseeable risks. However, it is easier to prove negligence against a commercial trucking company or its driver. Because trucks are common carriers under federal law, they must take the utmost care to protect others on the road.

Any evidence that the truck driver or trucking company did not ensure the driver was rested and alert could prove negligence. For example, failure to adhere to work hours rules could be evidence of negligence. However, a trucker could be fatigued even if they observed the driving hours limits. Truck drivers must pull off the road when they feel they cannot drive safely. A skilled attorney in Houston could help prove that a fatigued driver caused a truck collision by not exercising the proper care.

Damages in Truck Accident Cases

If an injured person proves negligence caused a truck accident, the responsible party owes the injured person compensation. These payments include economic damages for out-of-pocket losses like lost income, property damage, medical expenses, and any other costs the individual incurred due to the accident. Non-economic damages provide a sum to compensate an accident victim for their pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life.

Economic and non-economic damages are compensatory damages. However, the law also allows victims to seek exemplary or punitive damages. Exemplary damages do not compensate an injured person for their losses. Instead, they provide extra money to an injured person to punish them for egregious conduct.

Exemplary damages are not available in every case. According to Texas Civil Practice Law and Rules § 41.003, an injured person may seek them only if they can prove the responsible party acted with fraud, malice, or gross negligence. A lawyer in Houston could evaluate whether a trucker or trucking company’s conduct merits seeking punitive damages in a specific case.

Consult an Attorney in Houston to Claim Damages After a Fatigued Truck Driving Accident

If you suffered injuries in a fatigued truck driving accident in Houston, do not wait to act. A local attorney could ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible for your claim.

Truckers know better than to drive when they are not at their best. If their lack of care caused you an injury, they owe you compensation. Call today to discuss your case with a knowledgeable lawyer.