From glancing down to choose a new radio station to spilling a drink, distracted driving is a common practice among drivers in the U.S. For truck drivers especially, the consequences can be deadly—particularly for passenger vehicle occupants. When a vehicle collides with a commercial truck, crashes can include:
- Head-on collisions
- Contamination and chemical reactions related to hazardous materials pollution
- Injuries and wrongful deaths
To combat preventable distracted driving-related accidents, the federal government requires that truck drivers obey strict laws pertaining to distracted driving. Drivers who do not follow these rules may face fines or be temporarily removed from service. A driver’s employment status may also be affected by violations. Additionally, distracted driving may place liability on the driver of his or her employer in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
Identifying Risky Driving Behavior for Truck Drivers
In the moments leading up to a wreck and in the days after, you may notice or recall details that seem unimportant to the untrained eye. Take note of any facts about what the driver was doing prior to the crash, as well as any details that were noticed by witnesses. Distracted driving may include:
- Utilizing mobile phones, navigation systems, music players, CB radios, and other electronics that require texting or manual input to function
- Drinking and eating
- Observing a map or reading
- Reaching for an object that requires the driver to lose sight of the road
- Smoking or lighting a cigarette
- Taking notes
- Participating in a heated conversation that draws focus from driving
A study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ranked the danger of certain distracted driving practices. Texting and driving takes the lead, making it 23.2 times more likely that a driver will experience a crash. This is followed by writing, dialing a telephone number, and reaching for electronic devices. While some of the practices above may be difficult to prove, victims should mention any potential instance of negligence to an attorney. Truck drivers may also be liable for an accident if they drive while drowsy, fail to adhere to the hours of service regulations, fail to inspect and maintain their vehicles, consume alcohol or other banned or regulated substances prior to driving, drive with excess weight in the cargo, or disobey traffic laws. Hands-free options such as Bluetooth headsets and voice-activated software are approved for use.
Other Post-Accident Tips
To maximize the amount of compensation you can get from your claim, these steps may also help:
- Seek medical attention immediately to show that you are taking steps to heal in an efficient manner.
- Take photos of the scene, injuries and any damaged property.
- Avoid using language that may indicate fault, such as apologizing.
- Gather contact information from eyewitnesses.
- Avoid discussing details of the crash with the other driver, his or her employer or the insurance company.
- Keep records of any bills or purchases made that may be related to the crash or your injuries.
- Record time taken from work.
- Ask your doctor for any documentation regarding your injuries, the time and medical attention it will require for you to fully heal (if at all) and any likely complications that may arise due to your injuries.
By actively seeking care and documenting the damages from the crash, you can improve your chances of building a strong case and obtaining an ideal settlement.
Seeking Compensation for Your Injuries
Following a truck accident, you may face a number of challenges such as recovering from your injuries or the untimely death of a loved one, estimating the worth of your claim, and learning to apply your legal rights to your specific case. While an experienced attorney may be able to save you time and maximize the value of your settlement, here is a list of factors that may influence your claim:
- Were you also at fault?
- What proof do you have to support your claim?
- Did you seek medical attention in a timely manner?
- Will your quality of life be affected by the accident in the long term?
An attorney can walk you through the process of building a lawsuit with efficiency—and working with the firm costs you nothing if a settlement isn’t awarded to you. To discuss your answers to these questions and more, contact the firm at 855.947.0707.