Commercial vehicle drivers may cause accidents by driving while extremely fatigued, clocking in sometimes 12-15 hours a day on the road. This is against the law, but this happens given the incredibly tight schedules commercial vehicle drivers are under. Federal law and various industry regulations state that vehicle drivers are required to take periodic rest breaks and to log their time on and off. If an onerous firm policy or irresponsible schedule leads a trucker to skip their rest breaks and falsify their logs, the trucking firm may be responsible for this sort of gross carelessness. As some commercial vehicle drivers are faced with impossible deadlines or with compensation systems that value speed over proper safety precautions – this happens way too many times. Increasingly our firm may find this out by subpoenaing (demanding by court order) copies of their logs, receiving manifests, GPS tracking data, or even cell phone records which may contradict the trucker or trucking firm “official story.”
This is serious business and this happens way too many times as both our lawsuits and even network news operations have discovered. Furthermore, independent studies have found that commercial vehicle drivers who skip their breaks and spend more than eight hours at a time behind the wheel double their chances of being involved in wrecks. Both the National Transportation Safety Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have shown that driver fatigue is one of the number one causes of fatal and non-fatal truck accidents. Regardless of whether the trucker in your lawsuit was careless or fatigued, you may be able to name him as a defendant in your lawsuit if his actions led to your wreck. More on this website
This doesn’t stop there. Many times the vehicle driver is not the only party or business entity legally responsible for the accident. Trucking firms, contractors, employers, and insurance firms may be obligated to compensate you for your injuries. Third parties and manufacturers are also potentially responsible.
If an employment relationship is established between the vehicle driver and a trucking or shipping firm, that firm may be held legally responsible for the driver’s carelessness under a legal theory known as “respondeat superior.” Under this responsibility doctrine, among other things, your attorney will need to show that the firm exercised some degree of control over the driver and that the accident occurred while the driver was acting in the course of the employment relationship. Establishing the responsibility of a third-party firm may become problematic when a vehicle driver is an independent contractor of a larger firm. In such a situation, the key issue becomes the amount of supervising done by the firm. The potential responsibility of trucking firms, employers, and contractors is a key factor in assessing recovery through insurance coverage, as all these entities will likely carry separate policies that will apply to the accident.