The State of Ohio is one of the most important transportation hubs used by trucking companies. Four of the largest interstate highways cross our state and up to 80% of all truck traffic passes through them. Unfortunately, this also means that there are a lot of truck accidents. Truck driver fatigue is one of the main culprits in a commercial vehicle accident. Unfortunately, these types of motor vehicle accidents can have catastrophic consequences for other car drivers, their passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
Claims for accidents involving commercial trucks are particularly difficult to settle or win in court because the liable party is not only the careless truck driver, but also the truck company. These big companies are working with even bigger insurance companies, whose adjusters will do everything to limit the amount of damages you can recover or even deny your claim. This is why many people choose to work with a personal injury lawyer to investigate their case, collect the necessary evidence, and negotiate the claim amount.
If you or a loved one were a victim of a trucking accident, consider reaching out to an experienced Columbus truck accident attorney at Babin Law, LLC. We can go over the details of your case and see if we are able to assist you.
What Are the Chances of Getting into a Truck Accident in Ohio?
As we mentioned above, a very high percentage of large commercial vehicles pass through our state to deliver merchandise all over the United States. And this means that semi-truck accidents are all too frequent on Ohio highways. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, in 2022 there were already 2,942 accidents involving a commercial vehicle.
The causes for these truck crashes are many, the most frequent being:
- distracted driving
- truck driver fatigue
- exceeding the speed limit
- driving under influence of alcohol or illegal substances
- vehicle malfunction
- poor road conditions
One of the specific causes of accidents involving commercial drivers is truck driver fatigue. What exactly does this mean and how serious is this issue?
Drowsy Drivers Behind the Wheel - What You Need to Know
The trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This federal government body has set specific rules for the exact period of time when a truck driver can be behind the wheel and when they are supposed to take a break and rest. These hours of service rules are compulsory for all truck drivers and trucking companies. Thus, truck drivers must take mandatory breaks - a 30-minute break after every 8 hours of service.
However, the percentage of truck drivers who break these rules is high. It is not by choice, of course. Truck accident attorneys know that they are on very tight delivery deadlines and there is a lot of pressure on them to meet these deadlines.
But how dangerous are sleepy drivers behind the wheel? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatigued drivers are just as prone to cause accidents as distracted drivers, because they:
- are less attentive than they should be
- have delayed reactions
- are not fully in control of their vehicle
Moreover, the CDC compares fatigued driving with drunk driving, because:
- staying awake for more than 18 hours is equal to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%
- staying awake for more than 24 hours equal to having a BAC of 0.10%, which exceeds the legal limit in Ohio of 0.08%
Moreover, lack of sleep increases the negative effect of alcohol, even if it is consumed in low quantities.
Who Is Liable for a Highway Accident Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue?
For accident victims, the first and most obvious responsible party is the negligent truck driver. In reality, the trucking company shares their employee's responsibility for these types of truck accidents. In many cases, these companies force commercial truck drivers to skip the compulsory rest break. Sometimes, they even attempt to alter driver logs to hide this fact. Fortunately, the new electronic logs now in use are very difficult to tamper with.
Truck accident victims can greatly benefit from the professional assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney. It s very hard to prove this type of motor vehicle accident case without a lawyer, who will know how to counter the truck accident's attempts to deny your claim or get your personal injury case dismissed.
The trucking industry does not always comply with the required standards for commercial drivers. Often, you will find an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel of overloaded trucks. Combined with lack of sleep, these factors create the perfect recipe for disaster.
Types of Damages You May Seek in Truck Accident Claims
A truck accident injury lawyer will attempt to win the maximum compensation you are entitled to receive for your semi accident. Whether it is driver error, inclement weather, vehicles with inadequate maintenance, or poor road conditions, trucking accident attorneys know how to identify the party responsible, as well as the types of damages you are entitled to receive.
Personal injury law in Ohio allows accident victims to seek three types of damages:
Economic damages include all your financial damages as a direct result of the accident, such as:
- medical care
- hospital bills
- property damage
- lost wages
- out of pocket expenses
These damages aim to compensate truck accident victims for their physical pain, emotional trauma, and mental anguish. Your lawyer will advise you on this type of damage and determine an adequate amount, which you can realistically win either after negotiations or in court.
Also known as exemplary damages, this category of damages is awarded at the end of truck accident lawsuits if the jury finds that the truck driver acted with gross negligence in causing your accident.
Reasons to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
You may wonder - if I know my rights, can't I win my own truck accident claim? Of course you can successfully negotiate your claim on your own. However, even if you are successful, you are not guaranteed to win a sufficient amount to cover all your damages. Here are the main reasons why you should consider hiring an experienced truck accident attorney:
1. Adequate Assessment of Your Damages
An experienced attorney has offered assistance to many other truck accident victims. They know that it takes a long time to reach the point of maximum medical improvement and you will rack up hospital bills during this period. Thus, after discussing with your doctors, the attorney will be able to make a fair estimation of your financial losses, as well as the non-economic damages you may receive.
2. Building a Strong Case for You
Insurance carriers have lots of experienced adjusters whose job is to dismiss your claim. An experienced truck accident lawyer is just as skilled as insurance adjusters and will find the evidence needed to support your claim, including:
- the police report prepared at the accident scene
- photos and videos
- eyewitness testimonies
- expert witness, including accident reconstructionists
3. Knowing When to Take Your Case to Court
Ohio has a statute of limitations of 2 years after the date of the accident for filing a truck accident lawsuit. This is why insurance adjusters are trying to buy time with various delay tactics, until it is too late for you to take legal action. A truck accident attorney will see through these tactics and instruct you to file a lawsuit at the right moment.
Reach out to Babin Law, LLC to Discuss Your Truck Accident in Ohio
Babin Law, LLC has extensive experience in helping clients win fair compensation for truck accidents. If our Columbus personal injury attorneys are able to take on your case, we will fight to make sure you are fairly compensated. You do not have to pay any upfront fees - we will get our fees out of the settlement amount or jury award if we win.
Call us now for a free initial consultation: 833-SURVIVORS!