Panama City Fatigued Driving Accident Lawyers
All drivers have a responsibility to be alert while behind the wheel. Commercial truck drivers who are expected to operate large vehicles carrying tens of thousands of pounds of cargo, in particular, must make sure that they are alert, focused, and able to make quick decisions while driving. If a truck driver is drowsy or fatigued behind the wheel, they could cause a severe or fatal injury accident. If you’ve been hurt in an 18-wheeler crash caused by a fatigued truck driver, contact the Panama City truck accident lawyers of The Bruner Law Firm right away for qualified, knowledgeable legal help.
Our attorneys have more than 25 years of experience helping victims of fatigued driving truck accidents. Multiple parties could be responsible for your crash, including the truck driver, the trucking company, and other entities. We’ll help determine who is at fault and what types of compensation they owe you for your injuries, damage to your vehicle, and other financial losses.
At The Bruner Law Firm, we are committed to helping our clients get back on their feet after a serious injury accident. We represent clients on a contingency-fee-basis. That means you won’t have to pay us upfront to represent you. We don’t collect any legal fees or costs unless we win a monetary award. If we lose your case, you won’t owe us any money. Call us today at (850) 769-9292 to schedule your free consultation with a member of our team today.
Regulations for Drivers in the Trucking Industry
There are regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for the number of hours truck drivers can be on the road during a single shift. There are maximum limits they must adhere to, putting aside time for breaks and sleep.
The hours of service regulations mandate that all drivers:
- Spend no more than 11 consecutive hours driving after 10 hours off duty
- Prohibited from driving more than 14 consecutive hours on duty after spending 10 hours off duty
- Take at least a 30-minute break after spending eight cumulative hours driving
- Cannot drive longer than 60 hours during a seven-day period or 70 hours during an eight-day period
- The sleeper birth provision requires 10 hours off duty that can be split into at least seven consecutive hours of sleep and at least two hours off duty
- If there are adverse weather conditions during the driving shift, the maximum limit can increase by up to two hours
Other federal laws also require drivers to comply with the following regulations:
- Maintain driver logs
- Follow routine maintenance and repair schedules
- Stop at weigh stations to weigh the truck
- Carry the minimum liability insurance coverage associated with the vehicle weight and type of cargo
- Report all accidents to the trucking company for an independent investigation
- Hold a valid commercial driver’s license
- Speak, read, and write English at a level adequate for following traffic signs, communicating with others, and writing logs
- Refrain from consuming alcohol or drugs before and during driving shifts
- Load cargo using proper securement systems and without exceeding weight or size limits
How Fatigue Can Impact a Truck Driver’s Abilities
Most people, not just truck drivers, feel tired during their commute. Many are overworked or lack adequate sleep, and it affects their ability to drive safely. When you collide with a fatigued driver in a commercial vehicle, the aftermath is typically much more severe than if you get into an accident with another passenger car.
Commercial trucks are heavy, long, and sometimes carry toxic materials. This type of vehicle can cause devastating damage to other drivers and passengers. The force of an impact is enough to crush a small car and severely hurt or kill the occupants. Driving fatigue is much like driving drunk in that it can cause similar symptoms that prevent safe operation, such as:
- Slower reaction time
- Trouble focusing
- Reduced motor skills
- Altered sensory perception
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty noticing hazards
- Inability to follow traffic laws
When someone feels tired and decides to get behind the wheel, they could exhibit various dangerous behaviors that lead to an accident, such as:
- Failure to yield the right-of-way
- Running a stop light or red light
- Failure to check blind spots before merging or changing lanes
- Drifting into the shoulder or across the centerline
- Difficulty keeping eyes open
If any of the behaviors above, along with fatigued driving, led to your car crash, your Panama City fatigued driving accident lawyer will ensure the trucker faces the consequences of their actions. We will fight to hold them financially liable and recover the maximum compensation you deserve for your losses.
Florida Car Insurance Laws
When it comes to liability after a motor vehicle accident, Florida follows a no-fault system. Regardless of who was at fault, you must file a claim with your own insurance company first to seek compensation for your losses. Personal injury protection (PIP) is a form of required coverage all drivers must purchase. There’s a limit of $10,000 that can pay for medical expenses and lost wages.
When you file a claim, your doctors will send all your bills directly to the insurance company for an upfront payment of the costs up to the limit on your policy. If you’re unable to work due to your injury, you could also apply for compensation for your lost wages. Insurance will pay out this coverage until you reach the full limit.
In some situations, you might be entitled to a settlement from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company. There are specific requirements your injury must meet to qualify for this coverage. You can file a liability claim as long as your injury causes at least one of the following:
- Bone fracture
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ or member
- Significant disfigurement
- Full disability for at least 90 days
- Significant limitation of a bodily system or function
Whether you file a PIP claim, liability claim, or both, you can seek compensation for your total damages. Damages are the losses associated with an accident. Your Panama City fatigued driving accident lawyer will review your case’s elements to determine an appropriate value. We will ensure the insurance company pays the full amount they owe you so you can cover all the damages you incurred.
Damages You Can Pursue After a Truck Accident in Panama City
When a fatigued driver causes your car accident, you will probably suffer various damages. They fall under two main categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to actual expenses, while non-economic damages include all intangible losses that are difficult to monetize.
The damages available in an insurance claim include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages and future earnings
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Lost enjoyment of life
Unfortunately, non-economic damages don’t come with a billing statement or invoice. To calculate an appropriate settlement amount, the insurance adjuster might refer to some of the factors below:
- Type of injury sustained and its severity
- How long it takes to recover
- Whether there’s a permanent impairment or disability
- Impact of the injury on daily routine
- Total hours and lost wages from the inability to return to work
- Psychological injuries resulting from the crash, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety
- Total cost of car repairs
- Insurance coverage listed on the at-fault truck driver’s liability policy
- Total value of economic damages
While economic and non-economic damages are available in insurance claims and lawsuits, there’s a third type you can only pursue in a lawsuit. Punitive damages punish the liable party for their actions rather than compensating the victim for their losses. If you want to seek punitive damages, you must provide reasonable evidence that the at-fault party exhibited acts of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
The Effect of Negligence on Truck Accident Cases
Negligence is the legal theory that one party’s failure to exercise a reasonable degree of care caused another person harm. Proving negligence is necessary in any fatigued driving truck accident case. You will need to show that the following elements existed at the time of the car crash:
- Duty – The truck driver owed you a reasonable duty of care to prevent you from harm
- Breach of duty – They breached their duty
- Cause in fact – If it wasn’t for their breach, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt
- Proximate cause – The truck driver’s actions directly led to your injuries
- Damages – You incurred damages as a result
Another negligence law in Florida that could diminish your damages is known as pure comparative negligence. Under this rule, your total damages reduce by the percentage of blame you share for the accident. As an example, let’s say you incurred $100,000 in damages. You could pursue a total of $100,000 in compensation under normal circumstances. However, if it’s discovered that you share 20% fault, you would only be entitled to a maximum of $80,000.
Schedule Your Free Consultation with The Bruner Law Firm
Since 1992, our Panama City fatigued driving accident lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. We have the experience, knowledge, and resources to handle insurance claims and take cases to court. When you hire us, we will review your case to determine the best option to pursue. We will develop a strategic plan that reaches your legal goals so you can move forward with your life.
At The Bruner Law Firm, our team is available 24/7, so you can reach us when you need us the most. We know how important it is to keep in constant contact with your Panama City fatigued driving accident lawyer, so you will always know your case’s status. We strive to provide customer service you can depend on and trust. Call us today at (850) 769-9292 if you were the victim of a fatigued truck driver.