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Colorado Injury Firm

Fatigued Truck Drivers in Colorado Springs Accidents

Wrecks involving large tractor-trailers often result in severe injuries to the occupants of smaller vehicles. Truck collisions cause a disproportionate number of highway fatalities. Unfortunately, many people are hurt or killed in preventable 18-wheeler crashes, but they have the right to demand financial restoration with help from a skilled truck accident attorney.

Safe trucking requires an alert and skilled person at the wheel; fatigued truck drivers in Colorado Springs accidents are all too common. When driver fatigue is an issue in a crash that causes harm to others, the driver and their employer might be responsible for paying compensation.

Fatigue Is Often a Factor in Semi-Truck Accidents

Trucks are challenging to drive under the best of circumstances. The steering is stiff, brakes are slow to respond, and a large tractor-trailer has blind spots on all four sides, some running the length of the vehicle. Although modern truck cabs are equipped with cameras and mirrors to help drivers keep track of other nearby vehicles, a safe driver should not rely solely on these tools but maintain a mental awareness of their position.

When a driver is tired, their response time lengthens. Slow responses are especially dangerous for a trucker because the vehicles take a long time to come to a stop. Avoiding an unexpected obstacle in the road also requires skillful steering and a tired driver might over-correct. Fatigue also impairs judgment, and a driver might assess a dangerous situation differently when tired than they would when well-rested and alert.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been studying and combatting driver fatigue for decades. As recently as 2020, the agency designated eliminating operator fatigue as one of its top priorities. Truck driver fatigue continues to be a significant threat to highway safety in Colorado Springs and nationwide.

Negligence Can Lead to Truck Driver Fatigue

Because truck crashes can be so dangerous, the government strictly regulates the trucking industry. Truck drivers are subject to rules that limit the length of their shifts, the time between shifts, and the total number of hours they can drive per week. Truckers must log their hours, meal breaks, and sleep breaks.

However, trucking companies often impose unreasonable delivery schedules that require drivers to disobey these regulations. When a company or driver violates the work hours rules—they are negligent—which triggers a legal obligation to compensate anyone injured because of their misconduct.

Violating work hours rules is not the only negligent cause of fatigue in truck drivers. A driver might take medication that causes drowsiness but continue operating their vehicle despite this side effect. Sometimes, an illness or health condition reduces a driver’s energy level or alertness. A Colorado Springs drowsy driving truck crash attorney could subpoena a truck driver’s log, medical records, the truck’s electronic data recorder, its in-cab video, and other evidence to compile proof of negligent conduct leading to an injury or death.

Pursuing Damages After a Drowsy Driving Truck Wreck

When an injured person (plaintiff) proves another party (defendant) is negligent, they can hold the defendant liable for their losses or damages. A plaintiff who proves negligence is always eligible for compensatory damages and sometimes could claim exemplary damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages include reimbursement for the cost of medical treatment, necessary ancillary services, and income lost due to the injury. Future expenses could be included in compensatory damages if the plaintiff cannot return to their former employment or requires ongoing medical support.

Compensatory damages include money awarded to acknowledge the plaintiff’s diminished quality of life. The plaintiff can seek damages for their:

  • Scarring
  • Disability
  • Humiliation
  • Physical pain
  • Inconvenience
  • Emotional trauma
  • Injury’s impact on their close personal relationships

The value of these losses is impossible to estimate. Still, it is calculated based on factors like the plaintiff’s age, whether the injuries healed or are permanent, and the specific effect the injuries had on the plaintiff’s lifestyle and future.

Exemplary Damages

As the name indicates, exemplary damages are meant to serve as an example to deter wrongful behavior. According to Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-21-102, a jury may award exemplary damages only if the defendant’s conduct was fraudulent, malicious, or wanton and willful—which means the defendant knowingly engaged in dangerous conduct despite the risk it posed to others. Some fatigued truck driver accident cases in Colorado Springs could meet the criteria for awarding exemplary damages.

In most cases, the law caps exemplary damages awards. A plaintiff can collect exemplary damages equal to their compensatory damages. A proactive lawyer could investigate the circumstances of a specific accident and seek exemplary damages if appropriate.

Pursue Damages After a Fatigued Trucker Accident With a Colorado Springs Attorney

Trucking companies have significant resources they devote to defending themselves against negligence claims. If you want appropriate compensation after an accident involving a fatigued truck driver in Colorado Springs, enlist the help of an experienced attorney. Make an appointment with a knowledgeable local injury lawyer today.

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