The catastrophic and traumatic Humboldt Broncos truck-bus accident that gripped Canada in 2018 and still continues to resonate is a stark reminder of the terrifying consequences of truck driver error. In Canada, truck drivers are limited to carefully regulated driving hours and conditions to maintain safe drivers and roads.
When truckers drive beyond their allowable limits, they can suffer from fatigue, exhaustion, and sleep deprivation. This impairs their ability to focus and negatively and dangerously impacts their concentration and driving skills.
If you or someone you love was involved in a truck accident caused by truck driver fatigue and sustained injuries and property damage, you could be eligible for financial compensation.
When a truck accident law firm represents you, they can:
- Help you prove the negligence that led to your accident
- Assign a financial value to your truck accident case
- Negotiate a financial settlement with the insurance company representing the driver or their employer
Canada’s Allowable Hours of Service for Truck Drivers
Driving a large truck or rig through streets and highways requires focus, concentration, skill, and experience. Truck driver hours are carefully regulated to foster the best driving conditions and environment.
Most regulations dictate hours of service accrued over two cycles:
- Cycle One is a cumulative seven-day working period
- Cycle Two is a cumulative 14-day working period
These designations are used to ensure the truck driver’s physical and mental health and well-being, promote safety in the trucking industry, and make roadways as safe as possible for other drivers and pedestrians. Truck drivers and companies who misunderstand or ignore these regulations add to the risk of dangerous accidents.
Daily Driving and On-Duty Time
Because employers bear responsibility for their drivers, their actions and mandates are dictated along with the driver. To that end, no trucking company is allowed to request or knowingly permit a trucker to drive more than the regulated hours each day. In addition, no employer can request more than the regulated on-duty hours per day—nor is any driver allowed to do so.
The hours of service stipulations require honesty, tracking, and integrity from the driver and the employer. When one (or both) do not accurately report these hours, both hold liability for resulting accidents and their mental, physical and financial aftermath.
Mandatory Off-duty Time
Off-duty hours allow truck drivers to get adequate rest and sleep. It improves the trucker’s ability to concentrate, make decisions, and accurately interpret and anticipate the actions of other drivers.
Accordingly, off-duty regulations are in place to ensure:
- A driver is required to take a minimum of consecutive hours of off-duty time before returning to the road.
- A truck driver cannot return to driving if more than the regulated hours have passed since the mandatory off-duty stipulation.
Truck drivers are required to stick to these off-duty hours regulations. In addition, their employers are not allowed to knowingly request or permit changes to off-duty hours. Additional requirements apply to daily off-duty times that obligate drivers to take a certain minimum number of hours per day. Employers are also obligated to ensure their drivers’ compliance.
The Dangerous Effects of Truck Driver Exhaustion
Sleep deprivation can be caused by a lack of sleep or adequate sleep quality. The effects of sleep deprivation and fatigue on truck drivers can be similar to the impact of excessive alcohol consumption. According to Statistics Canada research, sleep deprivation can lead to depression and irritability.
It can also lead to:
- Difficulty concentrating on the vehicle or the road
- Slow driver reactions and reflexes
- Increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel
Fatigued driving can cause unusual driving behaviours including:
- Following too closely
- Overlooking or intentionally disregarding traffic signs and signals
Fatigued truckers are also at risk of a decreased ability to make necessary judgements. These dangerous results of fatigue are why truck drivers are required to meet certain on- and off-duty conditions.
Electronic Logging Devices Can Prevent Driver Fatigue
Truckers have long been required to track their on-the-road and off-duty hours. Traditional tracking methods include old-fashioned pen and paper logbooks. New methods of tracking driver hours include electronic logging devices.
According to Transport Canada, the use of an electronic logging device (ELD) can reduce:
- Driver fatigue
- Accidents, injuries, and fatalities
- Trucking industry administrative costs
Enforcement in all Canadian provinces and territories also leads to improved regulatory compliance. Certified ELD devices are rolling out for mandatory use over two years of implementation and enforcement. Paper logbooks may not alleviate driver fatigue because truckers can easily falsify or manipulate them.
Spotting the Signs and Symptoms of Driver Fatigue
In addition to accurate record-keeping, a primary method of combating trucker fatigue is symptom recognition. Employers should learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of fatigue in their drivers, and drivers should learn to recognize them in themselves.
The warning signs and symptoms of driver fatigue include:
- Lack of focus
- Repeated yawning
- Head bobbing
These symptoms are outwardly visible and might be noticed by others. Additionally, truck drivers might notice their own memory lapses, shallow breathing, and a burning sensation in the eyes. They might also notice their vehicle drifting into and out of their lane. Fatigued driving can cause unsafe and reckless driving behaviours.
Put a Personal Injury Law Firm to Work for You
Truck driver fatigue leads to dangerous conditions that cause accidents all over Canada. You or someone you love could have been injured in a truck accident caused by an overworked, overtired or inadequately or improperly driver. A legal team could help you seek financial compensation for the lasting impact of your physical and psychological injuries.
A truck accident lawyer can represent injured clients in cases with long-lasting, possibly permanent, changes to their clients’ lives.
They can also focus on clients with:
- A short-term or long-term loss of income
- A dispute with a private, long-term disability insurance company
- Permanent physical injuries
Your personal injury lawyer can listen to your case and review your medical records and diagnostic reports to determine the extent of your injuries. They can also consult with your health care team and with medical experts, as needed, to prove the impact on your current life and future.
Get Compassionate, Responsive Legal Support
A personal injury lawyer is committed to building an effective evidence file on your behalf. They can read and review all relevant data, records, and reports and consult medical, financial, and trucking industry regulations.
They can also evaluate your case and:
- Manage all claim forms and legal filings
- Assign a fair and accurate value to your case
- Ensure your case is filed within the allotted time
- Handle all communication and correspondence
A truck accident lawyer understands the physical, financial, and emotional angst of waiting for your case to resolve. They can make sure you receive regular updates on the progress of your case. Their staff can also provide regular checks on your health and well-being. They want you to get the support and encouragement you need and deserve.
When a lawyer represents you, they look at more than your injury. Your injury lawyer also look at the impact it has on your life. If your injury is considered incapacitating or devastating, the law firm could help you seek compensation for the resulting pain and suffering and other damages.
Qualifying injuries include:
- Soft tissue and whiplash injuries that become chronic
- Brain injuries of varying degrees ranging from concussion to traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries that can result in temporary or permanent immobility
Depending on their nature, location, and severity, many soft tissue injuries can also lead to many of the same debilitating conditions and circumstances. In addition, a lawyer can help the surviving family members of truck accident fatalities.
Your legal team should provide empathic, compassionate service that allows your family to focus on its emotional health and changed circumstances. They can focus on your financial recovery while you focus on your family.
How a Lawyer Investigates Your Truck Accident Case
When a lawyer represents you, their staff can obtain a copy of your police report and use its many details to substantiate your case. They will often get the entire police investigation file by way of court order. They can also conduct their own investigation into the driver and the circumstances of the accident. This includes hiring engineers and sometimes, conducting reconstruction analysis of the accident.
The legal team can investigate the driver’s logbook and locate and interview witnesses, including passengers in both vehicles.
Their investigative tools include:
- Crash report
- Medical records
- Driver travel log
- Driver phone records
- Photos and videos
- Employer dispatch records
- Entire police file by court order
Where possible and available, the lawyer’s investigation can also look at the trucker’s driving record, driving history, history of disciplinary actions and citations, and training records. Their goal is to prove the at-fault driver’s fatigue and its cause. In some cases, the driver will bear responsibility for driving over the allotted hours or driving without adequate sleep.
In other cases, the trucking company will bear responsibility for its failure to:
- Monitor the driver
- Ensure his compliance with required on-duty and off-duty regulations
- Pressuring a truck driver to exceed the allotted working or driving hours
How a Lawyer Fights To Prove Driver Fatigue
Truck drivers who drive while fatigued and companies who pressure them to do so are negligent. A personal injury lawyer could hold these parties financially responsible for your losses.
To legally establish negligence, the legal team proves:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care.
- The at-fault party breached that duty.
- Their breach caused your injuries.
- Your injuries had financial consequences.
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, the legal team could:
- Investigate any related violations of Canada’s hours of service regulations
- Read and carefully scrutinize your police report and police investigation file
- Locate and interview witnesses
- Investigate travel times and the driver’s mental alertness to ensure your right to collect financial compensation
- Obtain engineering analysis
Compensation a Truck Accident Lawyer Could Pursue for You
The at-fault truck driver and/or their employer could be financially responsible for your damages.
These losses could include:
- Current loss of income
- Future loss of income and loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Physical disability
- Physical disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of housekeeping
- Cost of future care
You do not have to assess losses like these on your own or understand how to do so. A legal team will do this for you using your all evidence including treatment and medical records, written prognosis, expert reports, therapy records, and financial records.
Let a Lawyer Guide the Financial Compensation Process
On your own, dealing with the insurance company can be overwhelming and time-consuming. It can also be an exhaustive process of confusing legal and insurance language and an incredible array of paperwork. You can leave the insurance company and the myriad of case-related details to a lawyer.
When an experienced truck accident lawyer negotiates for you, they can make sure the at-fault party’s insurance company acts in good faith and treats your case with the integrity it merits. The law firm can also make sure you do not inadvertently agree to a settlement offer that is too low. They know insurers often look at their own bottom lines instead of your well-being.
Your law firm will be focused on you and on getting the fair financial compensation you are entitled to receive for the at-fault driver’s negligence. They will work hard to secure an accurate case valuation based on your injuries and the circumstances of your accident. The legal team also considers comparative negligence laws and time constraints.
Get a Review of Your Truck Driver Fatigue Case
If a truck accident injured you or someone you love, a truck accident lawyer could help you identify and pursue the at-fault party. Get your free claim consultation and find out how they build an effective case for financial compensation by calling a truck accident lawyer today.