There are good reasons behind laws that limit the number of hours that a truck driver may drive on Arizona’s roads before they need to take a break. Still, truck driver fatigue is responsible for many accidents in Arizona—sometimes causing serious injuries to their victims.
Truck accidents are unfortunately common, and Arizona is no stranger to them. In fact, the Arizona Department of Transportation reports that over 14,200 crashes involved trucks and buses in the state in 2021, over 3,300 of which led to personal injuries, with 119 fatalities reported that year.
Truck accidents can happen as a result of many different factors. The truck driver’s negligence, failure to stop in time, speeding, and other issues with reckless driving are some causes of truck accidents. Other crashes involving commercial vehicles result from the negligence of the trucking company, particularly if the company has failed to maintain its fleet properly, or failed to train or supervise its driver.
Other causes of accidents include distracted driving, drunk or impaired driving, and, unfortunately, accidents that are caused by the truck driver’s fatigue.
There are many common types of trucking accidents, including:
A trucking accident can leave its victim with severe, sometimes catastrophic injuries, including head and traumatic brain injuries, bone fractures, internal bleeding, and back, neck, and spinal injuries. If your accident was the result of the truck driver’s fatigued state, you may be able to recover compensation for the financial losses connected to your personal injuries.
There are both federal and state laws in place that limit the hours that a truck driver may drive in Arizona—and for good reason. Truck drivers often work long hours, under strenuous conditions, and a fatigued driver is much more likely to have reduced reaction times, impaired judgment, and an increased likelihood of making mistakes. In fact, the National Safety Council notes that the effects of driving fatigue can be as bad as the effects of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, causing the fatigued driver to be three times as likely to be in an accident.
In Arizona, a truck driver may not drive more than 11 hours straight, and they need to be off duty for a period of 10 consecutive hours before getting back behind the wheel. However, not all drivers—or even trucking companies—obey the law when it comes to time spent behind the wheel. Whether it’s due to wanting to put in additional hours or getting back home to their families, some drivers will go over their allotted hours or even falsify driving logs. That can put innocent people on the road in great danger, as the driver may be more likely to cause an accident.
In addition to the above laws, Arizona negligence laws are also in place to assist victims of accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers. To recover compensation against a driver or trucking company, you will need to prove the elements of a negligence claim: that the truck driver owed you a duty of reasonable care, breached that duty when driving fatigued and causing the accident, and that as a direct result of the accident, you’ve suffered injuries and financial damages.
If you’ve been involved in an Arizona accident with a truck or commercial vehicle, it is very important that you seek out medical care and treatment. Some injuries can take days or weeks to manifest, so even if at first blush you feel fine, you should be checked out by a medical professional or emergency medical technician. Truck accidents commonly cause very serious injuries, such as traumatic brain or head injuries, back or spinal injuries, and severe breaks or fractures. They may lead to catastrophic injuries like paralysis, or even wrongful death.
It is also important that you preserve relevant evidence, which will strengthen your case during negotiations and at trial. At the scene, if possible, get contact information for the truck driver and trucking company, any other parties involved, and any potential witnesses. If you can, ask the witnesses to record or write down their accounts of what they observed and take pictures of the scene, the damage to vehicles or other personal property, and your personal injuries. As soon as possible, write or record your own statement of what happened, providing as much detail as you can.
Just as important is preserving your legal rights by consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable Arizona truck accident injury attorney. They will be able to discuss your legal rights and options with you, and accurately assess the full extent of your damages as a result of the accident caused by a fatigued truck driver.
They will also negotiate on your behalf with the driver, the trucking company, and the insurance companies involved—this is important, as negotiations with insurers can be very complex and lengthy without legal assistance. If a fair and reasonable settlement is not possible, an experienced truck injury attorney will present a case on your behalf at trial.
When you’re involved in a trucking accident, there are many different variables that can affect your resulting claim. You need an attorney by your side who has the knowledge and experience necessary to investigate the facts of your claim thoroughly, preserve important evidence, negotiate with the other party and their insurance provider, and present a strong case on your behalf.
At Torgenson Law, we understand the significant impact of a serious injury on a person and their family. If you find yourself in a trucking accident due to a fatigued truck driver’s negligence, contact Torgenson Law. We are conveniently located in Downtown Phoenix, near the Phoenix Japanese Friendship Gardens. Give us a call today at 602-726-0747 or reach out online for a free case evaluation.