Trucker Fatigue & Liability In Florida
Driving on Florida’s congested freeways can be a handful sometimes, and it can be made worse when other drivers are not at their best. Truck drivers in particular work long hours, and sometimes it can play a major role in the many accidents that involve large trucks. In certain scenarios, a trucker’s difficult working hours and the resulting fatigue can put them on the proverbial hook for injuries caused by their negligence.
A Profit Motive
The job of a truck driver is a difficult and often boring one – staring at similarly-designed roads for hours on end, with little other external stimulus besides other vehicles. Between lack of sleep, deadline pressure, and highway hypnosis, truckers can and do fall asleep at the wheel. Statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimate that as many as 13 percent of commercial vehicle drivers who have been involved in an accident in the past admit to being fatigued at the time. The FMCSA has guidelines that restrict the number of hours a person can drive (between 11 and 14 hours in a day, depending on the specific situation).
There are many reasons why the FMCSA’s guidelines are ignored by both employer and employee, though most of them come back to profit. For example, drivers are very often rewarded for completing deliveries in a shorter time than usual, so they may push themselves. In addition, employers routinely try to push the envelope, so to speak, by requiring their drivers to drive for longer periods or giving them unrealistic deadlines, which in turn causes drivers to go without sleep more often than they should.
Who Is Liable?
In accidents involving driver fatigue, it is important to keep in mind that fault very often goes both ways. If there is an accident and you are involved, any negligence on either side of the equation will be looked at in a lawsuit. In general, every motorist on Florida roads has a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the other motorists on the road, and if they fail to do so, they may face serious legal consequences. A breach of duty constitutes negligence, and negligence is what has to be established for an injured plaintiff to have a chance to collect.
Be advised that in Florida, a plaintiff partially responsible for their own injuries may still be able to recover damages. Any award that the plaintiff receives will be lowered by their’s percentage of fault, but recovery is still definitely possible. For example, if you are deemed to have been 30 percent at fault for your own injuries in an auto accident, it is still possible for the jury to hold that the defendant should be liable for the remaining 70 percent. While these outcomes are not optimal (that is, the plaintiff does not get the full amount requested) – it is almost always better than the uncertainty that might reign under other states’ law.
Contact A Tampa Trucking Accident Attorney
An accident involving a truck can be one of the most serious events in a person’s life. If you or a loved one have been in a truck accident, calling a dedicated Tampa truck accident lawyer is a great first step toward getting your life back to normal. The Rinaldo Law Group is ready and willing to assist you. Contact us today for a free consultation.