Fatigued 18-Wheeler Driver Case
A young Tyler couple who were soon to be new parents were sitting at a traffic light near the interstate in East Texas when an 18-wheeler approached from their right and turned left. The fatigued truck driver misjudged the path of the 18-wheeler trailer and literally drove it across the car both flattening the front half of the car and hooking the car and dragging it.
The initial review of the truck driver's log book showed that he was fully rested and had been on the road only a few hours. However, an experienced 18-wheeler accident attorney would always look behind the log book entries in order to verify their accuracy. Many of today's truck drivers get paid by the mile and thus are not making money while they are off duty resting in an out-of-the-way truck stop. The temptation is to continue to drive during the time that their log book shows that they are off duty waiting until they can legally drive. Modern technology has provided many ways that these truck driver's log book entries can be double checked. While cellular phone conversations and texting have no doubt caused many accidents they also have provided several good sources of information. Cellular phone company records can be used to establish the location of a driver at a particular time. Furthermore, the persons receiving the calls from the truck driver become witnesses as to whether at the time of the call the driver was driving, resting, in a restaurant, or otherwise on or off duty. Many trucks are equipped with GPS systems. While trucking companies will resist producing GPS information it is nonetheless discoverable and will show the location and in some instances the speed of the truck at particular times. Credit card details and receipts can be used to determine the exact time and location of purchases. Many trucking companies provide their drivers with fuel cards which can be used to determine the exact time and location of the 18-wheeler during refueling stops. I have had several 18-wheeler accident cases in which we requested all of this information and when it became apparent that the trucking company was going to have to produce this information their response was that we should talk about settling the case.
It is critical that 18-wheeler drivers be rested and alert at all times. Fatigue affects the perception, judgment and reaction time necessary to the safe operation of an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer rig on the public roadways not to mention the catastrophes that occur when fatigued 18-wheeler drivers actually fall asleep at the wheel.
In our case an extensive analysis of the truck driver's actual departure times, arrival times, route, delivery tickets, fuel tickets, and cellular phone records together with witness interviews showed that the truck driver had been driving almost continuously for 26 hours and was delirious from lack of required sleep. Furthermore, the analysis of the dispatch times and distances covered coupled with the specified delivery times showed that the shippers were not only aware but were actually encouraging the driver's DOT violations. A substantial confidential settlement was reached in this case.
After more than thirty-four years and thousands of personal injury cases there is virtually nothing that we haven't seen and successfully handled. There is no substitute for experience. If you want the assistance of an experienced Board Certified Personal Injury Attorney in the Tyler / Longview / East Texas area contact us today.