Santa Ana Truck Accident Attorneys
More than 35,000 people live and work in Santa Ana. There is a high volume of commercial truck traffic on the I-5 and throughout Santa Ana and this city's fatalities from truck accidents is higher than the California average.
Driver fatigue is often a common cause of devastating commercial truck accidents. There are a number of studies that have found that commercial drivers, especially truck drivers, who travel long distances often under pressure to deliver their freight under deadline, are sleep-deprived.
There are federal regulations that require drivers of commercial trucks to get sufficient rest before getting back on the road. These regulations are there for a reason. A sleepy truck driver behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle can cause significant damage. If you or a loved one has been injured by a fatigued or negligent truck driver, please contact an experienced Santa Ana truck accident lawyer to obtain more information about your legal rights and options.
Hours-of-Service Laws Explained
In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which monitors trucking companies, revised the hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers. The new HOS rule basically reduced by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period.
In addition, truck drivers will not be allowed under this new rule to drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. The rule also requires truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights' rest when their 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most - from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. This is part of the rule's "34-hour restart" provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
How the Law is Enforced
Trucking companies and drivers are required to keep logs showing how many hours the driver has worked and how many hours of rest or how many breaks were taken and when they were taken. Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by three or four hours could face up to $11,000 in fines per offense. The drivers could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 per offense. Trucking companies and their employees will be required to comply with this HOS rule by July 1, 2013.
Driver Fatigue is Dangerous
Truck drivers who are sleepy or fatigued are more likely to cause a crash, according to studies conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Their research found that truck drivers who are behind the wheel for more than eight hours have a twofold increase in crash risk. IIHS also found that truck drivers reporting hours-of-service violations are more likely to report having fallen asleep behind the wheel during the past month.
Why Truckers Break the Law
The most common reason why drivers may falsify HOS logs or violate HOS laws is when they are given unrealistic deadlines for delivery. Trucking companies may turn a blind eye to these violations because they are focused on their profits. The quicker the delivery and the more deliveries made, the more money they make. Profits are not usually the only motive. Sometimes, truck drivers "push through" fatigue to avoid rush-hour traffic or bad weather. They may drive during the early morning hours when their bodies may have given up and need to rest the most. This could cause devastating truck accidents.
Protecting Victims' Rights
When a person is injured or killed as a result of a truck accident caused by driver fatigue, both the driver and his or her employer can be held liable for the injuries or wrongful death. It is often the occupants of the smaller vehicle who get significantly injured in large truck accidents.
The experienced Santa Ana truck accident lawyers at Bisnar Chase help injured victims or families of deceased victims pursue personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits to recover compensation for their losses.
We can help review the trucking company’s logs to determine if driver fatigue caused the accident. We will take the steps necessary to ensure that key evidence such as driver logs and vehicle maintenance logs are preserved in the aftermath of a truck accident. Our attorneys will fight for your rights and help ensure that your legal rights are protected.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a large truck and you believe you have a personal injury claim, please Call 949-203-3814
for a Free Consultation or fill out and submit the online form.