Liability for a Truck Accident Due to Falling Asleep at the Wheel

Posted on behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak

on November 24, 2020

. Updated on March 23, 2022


truck driver in front seat yawningThousands of accidents caused by drowsy motorists happen each year. Truck drivers are especially high-risk for causing a motor vehicle crash due to fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel because of the long hours they drive without a break. When truck accidents happen, the size and weight of a commercial big rig, semi-truck or 18-wheeler often causes injuries that are serious or fatal.

Learn more about accidents caused by truck drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel and the evidence attorneys may use to prove liability.

Our qualified attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak are ready to provide legal help if you were injured in an accident involving a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel. We have decades of experience and a proven track record of recovering millions in compensation for our clients. Call to learn more about how we may be able to help with no obligation or risk to you.

Risks and Reasons Truck Drivers May Fall Asleep While Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), commercial vehicle drivers are more likely to doze off at the wheel than an ordinary motorist. In part, this is because of the long hours they drive – much of which is at night. In fact, NHTSA statistics reveal that fatigue is a contributing factor in as many as 30 to 40 percent of truck crashes.

Common reasons that truck drivers may fall asleep while driving include:

Sleep Apnea

Driving a truck involves long hours sitting. Unfortunately, this sedentary lifestyle is inherent to the job, and it often leads to weight gain and other dangerous medical conditions, such as sleep apnea. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), studies revealed than nearly one-third (28 percent) of commercial truck drivers suffer from mild to severe sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. Unfortunately, many sleep disorders are often undiagnosed, untreated – or worse, simply ignored.

Sleep apnea, a common, but serious sleep disorder, involves the upper respiratory airways. When the individual falls asleep, his or her airways are intermittently blocked, causing breathing to stop temporarily. This intermittent pause in breathing may happen multiple times each night, causing the individual to suffer from a lack of oxygen and reduced quality of sleep. This vicious cycle can lead to dangerous levels of fatigue, causing people to fall asleep at the wheel or at other times during the day.

Taking Prescriptions

Some drivers may have other medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, anxiety, depression or pain that is treated with prescription medications. However, drugs that have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness should not be taken before getting behind the wheel of any motor vehicle.

Driving Long Hours

Truckers were already at a higher risk for fatigue from driving long hours. Since the FMCSA implemented relaxed trucking hours of service amid the pandemic, drivers are now permitted to work even longer without taking a break.

Overnight Driving

Studies show more drowsy driving accidents, including when people fall asleep at the wheel, are likely to occur between midnight and 6 a.m.

Proving Liability for Drowsy Driving Truck Accidents

It can be challenging to prove that a drowsy truck driver caused you to be injured in an accident. What evidence can you use unless the driver actually admits to the police, to you or to a witness that he or she fell asleep at the wheel?

Even if there is no verbal admission of falling asleep, there are other types of evidence that could strengthen a potential claim. If an attorney is handling your claim, he or she will work to establish negligence by proving the driver failed to uphold his or her duty of care to others on the road, and that this failure not only caused the accident, but also your injuries and damages.

Evidence could include:

  • Witnesses who saw the vehicle swerving
  • Traffic or dash cameras that captured the truck going through traffic signals or stop signs
  • No skid marks at the scene, which may show the driver did not try to stop – common when someone falls asleep at the wheel
  • The truck driver’s logbook, which may establish whether the driver was working beyond the allowed hours of service
  • Evidence of prescriptions the driver was taking at the time
  • Medical records to look for conditions, such as sleep apnea, that could impact a trucker’s ability to drive safely

Why Seeking Legal Help May Benefit Your Claim

At Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak, our South Bend truck accident lawyers have extensive experience handling truck accident claims, including those caused by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. We know how to handle the powerhouse attorneys hired by trucking companies and insurance providers, and we are adept at gathering evidence that builds a robust claim.

If you suffered injuries in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver, we are prepared to discuss your potential legal options in a free consultation with one of our qualified attorneys. This meeting carries no obligation or risk to you. If we represent you, there are no costs up front or attorney fees to pay unless we recover compensation for you.

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak. Experienced Lawyers. No Upfront Costs. (844) 678-1800

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak

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