If there is a Main Street USA, it may be Interstate 35. It’s one of the major shipping lanes for goods in North America. The large trucks that use this road weigh over 80,000 pounds, carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel, and due to the ongoing truck driver shortage, often have inexperienced drivers. This combination often leads to vehicle collisions and serious injuries.
Brainerd injury lawyers can often obtain substantial compensation in these cases. That includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. These damages are often even higher if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) caused catastrophic injuries, such as wrongful death, and one of the five types of driving impairment substantially caused the crash. Generally, impaired truck drivers know they should not be driving, but they do so anyway and place other people at risk.
This substance causes more truck crashes than you may think. Very few truck drivers are legally intoxicated, but a large number may be legally impaired. People are intoxicated after three or four drinks, but impairment begins with the first drink. That could be a burger and a beer at a truck stop. Alcohol slows reflexes, impairs judgment, and makes multitasking (such as looking at the road and speedometer at the same time) almost impossible.
To establish liability in these cases, victim/plaintiffs may use either direct or circumstantial evidence. Generally, direct evidence is available in the form of a DUI charge.
Most shipping companies pay drivers by the load. So, they have a financial incentive to stay on the road for as long as possible. Additionally, many truck drivers are behind the wheel early in the morning or late at night. Most people are naturally drowsy at these times no matter how much sleep they had the night before. The stakes are high, because alcohol and fatigue have the same effect on the human brain. In fact, driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC.
All large trucks have Electronic Logging Devices which automatically track hours of service. The trucking industry fought the ELD mandate for years. They know these gadgets make it easier for Brainerd injury lawyers to prove liability in fatigued driving cases.
Most truck drivers stay away from heroin, cocaine, and other street drugs, at least while they are on duty. But prescription painkillers, like Oxycontin and Fentanyl, are a different story. In many cases, these drugs are even more powerful than heroin. Because truck drivers sit for long periods of time, it’s hard to operate a large truck with a bad back or another physical malady. Therefore, they often take painkillers right before they get behind the wheel, and they are under the influence of these drugs as the drive down the road.
Similar to alcohol-involved cases, Brainerd injury lawyers may use direct or circumstantial evidence to establish drug impairment. Circumstantial evidence includes glassy eyes, open pill bottles in the rig, and current painkiller prescriptions.
Sleep apnea is a significant problem among truck drivers. People with sleep apnea never fall into a deep, recuperative sleep. They basically doze for seven or eight hours at night, and they wake up frequently. As a result, they are not as well-rested as they should be. During long trips, there’s a good chance that these drivers may fall asleep. Nodding off for just a moment or two is enough to cause a tragic accident.
Federal regulators have urged the trucking industry to adopt tougher sleep apnea screening methods, but the industry has so far refused to do so. If the tortfeasor’s medical records indicate any sleep apnea issues, there’s a good chance that this condition may have substantially caused the crash.
Driver inattention has long been a leading cause of vehicle collisions. These crashes are even more common in the smartphone era. These devices combine all three types of distracted driving, which are:
- Cognitive (taking one’s mind off driving),
- Manual (taking one’s hand off the wheel), and
- Visual (taking one’s eyes off the road).
Other sources of distracted driving include eating, talking to passengers, drinking, and adjusting the air conditioner. Using a hands-free cell phone is also distracting both visually and cognitively.
Some trucks have dash cameras. These cameras provide near-absolute proof of distracted driving. Brainerd injury attorneys must act quickly to preserve dash cameras, ELDs, and other physical truck crash evidence. Insurance companies often “accidentally” destroy such evidence after a vehicle collision.
Rely on Experienced Lawyers
Large truck crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.