Fatigue has always been a serious problem among truck drivers. Most of these owner-operators have very small profit margins. So, they must stay behind the wheel as long as possible, so they can deliver their loads as soon as possible. Recently, citing the coronavirus outbreak, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration relaxed some key HOS (Hours of Service) safety rules. So, this problem might become even more acute.
Florida truck driver crash victims are entitled to compensation for their injuries, if an Orlando truck accident lawyer establishes negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. So, all successful claims are built on solid evidence.
To measure HOS compliance, or lack thereof, attorneys typically look to the large truck’s Electronic Logging Device. Trucking industry lawyers fought the ELD requirement all the way to the Supreme Court. They know that electronic information which conclusively shows HOS compliance is incredibly compelling in court.
Most large trucks are required to have ELDs. These gadgets are connected to the vehicle’s drive train. So, when the truck is in motion, the HOS clock is ticking.
Electronic evidence like ELD information is very compelling in court. Tech-savvy Orange County jurors usually respond very well to such presentations. And, as long as the gadget was working normally, insurance company lawyers usually cannot successfully challenge this evidence in court.
There are some hurdles to overcome. For example, Florida has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. Typically, attorneys need judicial permission before they can access and download large truck EDRs.
If the drowsy truck driver violated federal or state HOS laws and that violation substantially caused the wreck, the truck driver could be liable for damages as a matter of law.
Indirect proof is also admissible on this point. This proof must establish a lack of care. And, since they are professional drivers, commercial operators in Florida have a very high duty of care.
The time of day or night, statements the tortfeasor made about fatigue, and an underlying medical condition are the most common kinds of circumstantial proof.
Most people are naturally drowsy early in the morning or late at night. The amount of rest they had the previous night is irrelevant. Moreover, drowsy drivers often admit to first responders or other witnesses that they were fatigued. These statements are usually admissible. Finally, since they sit for extended periods, many truckers struggle with sleep apnea. This condition robes individuals of deep, restorative sleep.
Truck drivers are legally responsible for damages in these situations. The shipping or other company which owned the truck or cargo is typically financially responsible.
Drowsy truck drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Orlando, contact Moe DeWitt. JustCallMoe does not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.