The trucking industry can prove challenging nowadays, with driver shortages and more pressure on existing drivers to deliver goods. As this stress builds, it brings on more truck driver fatigue as truckers struggle to get things delivered on time.
As much as Las Vegas and the rest of the country need trucks to deliver products to our stores, rushing drivers or proposing unrealistic timelines also presents a serious danger to other motorists across the country. A fatigued truck driver could end up changing your life in a moment if he or she hits you or your car.
What should you do if you find yourself seriously injured by a fatigued truck driver? You should seek guidance from an attorney regarding your legal rights and options. Let’s look at some of the legal steps involved in these types of claims.
Reasons for Truck Driver Fatigue
A trucker may experience fatigue due to a simple lack of sleep from driving long hours. While a good argument exists here to promote more autonomous trucks on our roads, it’s still no excuse for human drivers to go without sleep.
Besides, with national estimates showing truck driving accidents increasing over the last ten years, it’s clear that truck drivers need more sleep before getting behind the wheel. Considering the strong impact involved in a truck accident can prove fatal, or cause severe, permanent injuries, trucker fatigue constitutes an important problem across the country.
Unfortunately due to the pandemic, the need to get things delivered on time has only increased truck driver fatigue and resulting accidents. Trucker fatigue doesn’t always result from inadequate sleep, though. Some of the most common reasons for truck driver fatigue include:
Sometimes, toxicology reports that come in about the negligent truck driver after the accident indicate that a medication caused the driver’s drowsiness. A situation like this also pins blame on the trucking company for overlooking the possibility that one of its drivers could end up impaired from medications.
Consuming cannabis can also contribute to an accident, even though Nevada has legalized medical marijuana, operating a moving vehicle under the influence of marijuana is still illegal.
When a truck driver gets behind the wheel after consuming alcohol it poses a serious risk. Drivers may do this after stopping at a restaurant to eat dinner when on the road. Such a blatant action could turn disastrous.
Perhaps the injuries you now suffer from resulted directly from a truck driver who consumed alcohol before continuing his route on a highway or freeway. If so, you should contact an experienced truck accident attorney to discuss your legal options.
Natural Medical Conditions
Sometimes, natural medical issues, like depression or general stress, may cause truck driver fatigue. Natural medical conditions that cause fatigue don’t involve the same level of negligence as consuming drugs or alcohol before driving, but drivers should still exercise good judgment when determining whether they should drive.
In this case, the trucking company may bear some of the blame for not conducting driver assessments before allowing its drivers to drive long distances.
Your First Step After a Truck Accident
No doubt you’re wondering about the future now after facing serious injuries following your truck accident. How will you pay for your medical bills and possible rehabilitation going forward?
If you sustain severe injuries, you may never live the same life you had before the accident. In this situation, you should seriously consider taking legal action against the truck driver that hit you, the company responsible, or both.
To get started, you should retain an experienced personal injury attorney to investigate your case. Your attorney will likely recommend that you focus on recovering from your injuries. You don’t want to deal with additional stress while trying to restore your health, and how quickly you recover from your injuries will determine how much compensation you should pursue.
In the meantime, your attorney will go to work immediately in researching your case. In investigating your case, your attorney will go to the scene of the accident to determine what happened and to gather any evidence that may prove helpful down the road.
What pieces of evidence can you use to prove the fatigued truck driver hit you? It usually starts by interviewing witnesses who saw the events unfold. Witness memories don’t always prove reliable, though, so your attorney typically seeks video footage and police reports as corroborating evidence.
Thanks to mobile devices that can take video and photos in seconds, some witnesses may have photographed or videoed the accident as it happened. This type of footage can prove very valuable as evidence to avoid conflict on whether the truck driver or you caused the accident.
Traffic cameras may also play a role in your claim. Since Las Vegas has many traffic cameras, your attorney will seek out any available video at the scene of the accident. Your attorney may even use private security camera footage as evidence in your case, although this type of evidence may require a subpoena to acquire.
Your attorney will also take photos of any physical remnants left behind at the accident scene that may help indicate what the truck did to your car. Due to the large size of trucks and the force involved in truck collisions, your accident probably came close to totaling your car, if not completely.
Next, we look at your injuries plus what kind of medical bills you have now and may deal with in the future.
What Type of Injuries Did the Truck Accident Cause?
No one will walk away from a truck accident feeling perfectly normal. The fatigued truck driver possibly hit you at high impact, either from behind, from the side, or head-on.
Any of these scenarios can create horrific injuries both on the outside of your body and internally. Never walk away from an accident without getting a medical evaluation, even if you feel no instant pain. You may have severe internal injuries and not realize it yet.
Some typical injuries that may happen as the result of being hit by a truck include:
A traumatic brain injury can result if you hit your head hard against the windshield, the dashboard, or the side window. Never let anyone tell you a traumatic brain injury can heal itself easily. Sometimes, it does, but oftentimes, it results in permanent brain damage.
You may have suffered a severe brain injury, meaning you can’t function now how you did before the accident. This type of injury will likely affect your ability to work, leading to further financial worries.
Make sure you or your attorney gathers all of the medical records related to your brain injury. You should keep all of this information in a safe place when submitting your injury claim to the defendant’s insurance company.
If you wind up taking your truck accident case to trial, you will want to have substantial medical evidence that proves the severity of your injuries.
Spinal injuries can prove just as bad or worse than brain injuries. Suffering complete or partial paralyzation can change the quality of your life in unfathomable ways.
Ongoing medical needs will prove inevitable, making it imperative to establish the severity of your injuries. Once again, gathering evidence of all your x-rays, scans, and other medical procedures to help prove that you suffered spinal damage in the accident constitutes an important step in your case.
Sometimes broken bones can heal over time, though not always. After sustaining broken bones in a truck accident, you may suffer from physical disabilities for the rest of your life.
If you cannot walk well again or do the job that you had before your accident, you face a tough road ahead. When a fatigued truck driver bears responsibility for your accident, you should contact an attorney about pursuing justice and compensation for your injuries.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies
Once you have all of the evidence you need to prove your case, your truck accident lawyer will go to work presenting that evidence to the defendant’s insurance company. The real legal process begins when your lawyer turns in a personal injury claim to the insurance company.
During this procedure, an insurance adjuster looks at the evidence you’ve made available. The adjuster will ultimately determine what to pay you to cover your damages.
Unfortunately, insurance companies often initially try to either give you an overly low settlement or argue that you sustained less severe injuries than you claim. The insurance company may call you and attempt to get you to accept an early settlement offer. Don’t take it without first consulting an attorney, because you will likely need more to cover the full cost of your injuries.
Also, you should avoid talking to the insurance company directly about your physical or mental condition. An adjuster might call you and ask how you’re feeling. Even just telling the adjuster that you feel fine may lead to the adjuster twisting your words later if you go to trial.
One other modern day precaution is to stay off social media regarding the accident or your health during the claim’s process; too many cases have been sabotaged by the careless posting of comments that may be used against them in the settlement or trial process. The best policy is to stay dark on social media during this time.
Let your attorney handle all negotiations for you. Experienced attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to fight against the insurance company’s defensive tactics.
How might the negotiation process involve obtaining a settlement?
All insurance companies will stand up for their clients and shareholders. This means they’ll try to defend the truck driver and avoid paying out significant compensation.
Comparative fault constitutes another legal maneuver often used here in Las Vegas by insurance companies. The legal team of the truck driver may use this defense and try to establish your comparative fault at over Nevada’s allotted 51 percent, which would theoretically eliminate all chances of you winning a settlement.
Your lawyer will work to prove otherwise, and it all comes down to the persuasiveness of your evidence and legal arguments. Most insurance companies want to settle eventually, as settlements cost significantly less than trials in most cases.
Your attorney will communicate every settlement offer from the insurance company to you. Your lawyer will never accept a settlement offer without your approval. Even an experienced attorney can’t predict exactly how much the insurance company will offer, as that will depend on a wide variety of factors.
You should avoid expecting a specific amount, since the final figure will depend on the evidence presented. Even if your attorney has a case results page listing past successful truck accident settlements, this should not be construed as the amount you will receive in your case.
You may wind up accepting more or less than someone who sustained similar injuries in a similar accident. Regardless, your attorney will fight hard to recover maximum compensation on your behalf.
Suing for Punitive Damages
After winning a settlement, you may feel the need to set an example of the fatigued truck driver that caused your accident. You may want to sue for punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, which courts award to punish particularly egregious conduct and to discourage similar behavior in the future.
Using this legal move, you may sue the truck driver or the trucking company directly for additional damages. Evidence might indicate that the truck driver engaged in especially egregious behavior. For instance, the driver was possibly drunk or deliberately crashed into your car due to road rage.
Any of those situations warrant a civil lawsuit. Keep in mind that if you sue the at-fault party directly, any compensation that you receive will come directly from that party. How much you realistically receive will depend on the financial condition of the driver.
Suing the trucking company directly might mean a larger settlement, as generally these companies have an inter/national presence and significant assets.
Areas in Las Vegas Where Truck Accident Often Happen
Truck accidents can happen anywhere in Las Vegas. Most of these accidents occur on the city’s freeways, although they can happen just as often on smaller roads right in the middle of the city.
Delivering goods constitutes an ongoing issue, and not just semi-trucks delivering food or other store products. Sometimes, large trucks belonging to performers along the Vegas Strip constitute the biggest risk.
Many of these trucks have to drive along Las Vegas Boulevard to unload set designs or other apparatuses for live shows at casinos. These trucks can easily hit someone in an intersection when you consider how many people walk the streets daily along the Strip.
According to statistics, West Sahara Avenue and South Decatur Boulevard constitute the most dangerous intersection in all of Las Vegas. Trucks frequently cross through there, with the potential for a fatigued driver to injure more than one person in the vicinity.
Get Legal Help Today!
Contact an experienced attorney immediately if you’ve suffered an injury in a truck accident. We’ve handled hundreds of personal injury cases in Las Vegas involving fatigued truck drivers, reaching numerous settlements with drivers and companies.
As much as we respect truck drivers for what they go through to bring us the groceries we put on the table, we also acknowledge that negligence can still happen. Every trucking company needs to take more care in checking or vetting their drivers before they head out on the highway.
Sleep deprivation goes on, but it shouldn’t continue to change lives like yours forever. Reach out to an attorney to pursue justice and compensation following a Las Vegas truck accident to ensure evidence is not lost or witnesses unidentified after the incident.