Motorists who collide with large commercial trucks in Louisiana could suffer serious and sometimes fatal injuries. A new report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has recorded a 10% increase in accidents with large trucks that involved injuries or deaths from 2016 to 2017. In 2017, 4,237 fatal truck crashes occurred, and another 344,000 accidents injured people. Despite this data, the Department of Transportation is reportedly taking steps to ease restrictions on hours of service rules, which could worsen the problem of truck driver fatigue.
Truck driver fatigue contributes to a portion of these wrecks. The National Transportation Safety Board considers it a major problem. Among fatal truck crashes, 83% happened between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Current federal regulations state that long-haul drivers must take a 30-minute break within an eight-hour period behind the wheel. They also cannot exceed 11 hours on the road within a 14-hour on-duty period. Before starting another work day, they must have at least 10 consecutive hours of downtime. A representative for the American Trucking Association has expressed hope that the federal government will loosen these standards.
Just as the trucking industry seeks to weaken safety rules, its insurers strive to limit their liability after accidents. Someone suffering in the aftermath of a truck accident might be vulnerable to attempts to avoid paying damages. An attorney could aid an individual who wants to pursue compensation for medical expenses and lost income. Legal representation might counteract attempts by an insurance company to settle the case quickly for an amount that does not sufficiently reflect the person's actual financial damages. An attorney could look for evidence of truck driver fatigue by speaking with witnesses or checking work logs. This information could strengthen accusations of negligence in an insurance claim or lawsuit.