The headlines pop up with alarming frequency. “Semi-truck driver falls asleep at wheel, crashes causing serious injury to passenger.” “Highway 99 lane closed after truck crash, fuel spill near Merced.” “Trucker pleads guilty to California crash that killed 13.” A semi-truck driver operating his vehicle in a fatigued state is one of the biggest dangers on the road. Crashes involving semi-trucks often inflict major injuries and massive harm to those involved… and to their families. If you or a loved one was hurt in an accident due to the negligence of a commercial truck driver, you may be entitled to receive substantial compensation from the driver, the trucking company and others. An experienced San Mateo truck accident attorney can provide invaluable help to you as you take on these companies and pursue the recovery you need.
In the three California crashes mentioned above, they all had one thing in common: a truck driver who was asleep (or claimed to be asleep) at the wheel at the time of the accident. The most recent one, which just happened earlier this month, involved only the big rig and occurred in San Luis Obispo County. Once the driver fell asleep, the truck went off the road and landed on its side. The passenger inside the truck’s cab suffered major injuries. The “cause of the crash is believed to be driver fatigue,” according to a KSBY report.
Last month, the scene was the San Joaquin Valley. Authorities were forced to close part of Highway 99 after the driver of a northbound fuel tanker fell asleep and jackknifed. The driver said he fell asleep and neither drugs nor alcohol were believed by CHP to have been factors, according to the Merced Sun-Star. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in that crash.
The same tragically could not be said for a Southern California crash from 2016. In that accident, a trucker stopped when utility work halted traffic, then fell asleep while waiting for the repair work to be completed. He remained asleep as the rest of the vehicles resumed driving at freeway speeds. A loaded tour bus hit the stopped semi at a speed of 76 mph, killing 13 people on board. Officials concluded that the trucker “had driven well over the permitted maximum number of hours” and had “tried to hide the violations by falsifying his daily log,” ABC News reported.
How federal regulations may impact a lawsuit against a drowsy trucker
Federal authorities have established specific requirements (called “hours-of-service” regulations) that limit the amount of time a trucker can spend behind the wheel. Those regulations are why obtaining a trucker’s logbook showing the hours he drove is so important (and is one of the key areas of pre-trial discovery in which your experienced attorney can help greatly.) If you have documented proof that the trucker who hit you exceeded his regulatory maximums, then you may be entitled to a judgment in your favor based on a special kind of negligence called “negligence per se” (or “negligence as a matter of law.”)
Of course, just getting a judgment isn’t everything. You also need to get an award of damages that fully compensates for the harm you suffered. To get that done, it is often helpful to go after more than just the trucker. Your accident attorney can help you get the proof you need to pursue the trucking company that employed the driver, as well as anyone else who contributed to the trucker’s driving beyond regulatory limits or otherwise in an excessively fatigued state.
Whatever the severity of the injuries you suffered, you very likely have questions after you’ve been hurt in a commercial truck crash. To get the reliable answers you need, turn to the skilled San Mateo truck accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our team has spent decades helping injured people and their families get positive results through the use of the legal system. To set up a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys and find out how we can help, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.