Collisions involving big rigs often result in serious injury or even death. One of the chief contributing factors to these accidents is commercial driver fatigue. If you have been injured or a family member has been killed in a collision near Queens, you should not hesitate to contact the truck crash attorneys at The Cassisi Law Firm for a free consultation to find out how we can help you pursue damages. For nearly three decades, John Cassisi has represented individuals throughout Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, as well as in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
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Every year, there are roughly half a million accidents involving large trucks in the United States. Big rigs can be 20 to 30 times the weight of other vehicles, and they can mow over anything in their path. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has concluded that driver fatigue is a significant factor in a large number of truck accidents, based on surveys of commercial drivers who have reported falling asleep at the wheel.
The unfortunate reality is that truckers and trucking companies are under a great deal of pressure to meet time and delivery schedules. This has become increasingly true as more companies have put a premium on meeting overnight, two-day, or other shortened delivery targets. In addition, truck drivers are often paid by the mile, which creates an incentive for them to drive as long as they can in order to maximize their income.
The risk of danger inherent in this situation is one of the concerns of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the federal agency tasked with regulating interstate trucking. Under the FMCSA’s current “hours of service” regulations, for example, commercial drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours in one shift. If it has been 14 hours since they started a shift, they must take a 10-hour break. Truckers must take at least 30 minutes off duty after eight hours of driving, and they cannot drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day period, or 70 hours in an eight-day period.
A violation of these regulations or another rule governing this industry likely can give rise to a successful negligence claim by someone who is hurt as a result. To seek compensation, a victim usually will try to establish four key elements: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
It is generally established that truck drivers, like anyone else on the road, owe a duty to others around them to act at least as carefully as a reasonable person would act in similar circumstances. A breach can consist of any careless action, such as violating the regulations governing hours of service or getting behind the wheel in a condition too exhausted to operate these large vehicles. However, simply breaking one of the rules governing the trucking industry does not automatically lead to liability. A victim also must prove that this negligent conduct led directly to the crash in which he or she was hurt, and that he or she sustained quantifiable damages as a result. These can include both objective and subjective forms of harm, such as missed wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, or property damage to a vehicle.
Some tractor-trailer accidents can give rise to a claim against the trucking company as well as the individual driver. Even if the company did not act carelessly itself, the theory of vicarious liability can allow a victim to hold an employer responsible for the negligent actions of an employee who was acting in the scope and course of his or her employment.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a crash caused by a driver suffering from fatigue, contact one of the experienced truck accident lawyers at the Cassisi Law Firm. We can help you seek compensation from trucking companies and insurers, even if they are based in other states.
Call us at 718-441-5050, or use the online form to set up your free consultation.