Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

Call for a free consultation (206) 340-2008

How Do I Prove a Drowsy Truck Driver Injury Claim in Kent?

Posted Friday, August 19, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Since a missed early delivery bonus could be the difference between making money and losing money on a run, many truckers stay behind the wheel as long as possible. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is supposedly a consumer watchdog group, has encouraged this behavior. It has recently watered down some key HOS (hours of service) rules. As a result, many truckers are dangerously fatigued. Driving after 18 consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That is above the legal limit for commercial drivers in Washington.

To impede the effects of fatigue, many truckers use amphetamines. These drugs might make users feel more alert. But they also make them edgy and suspicious behind the wheel. Furthermore, when amphetamines wear off, users often crash hard and fast.

If drowsy driving, or any other kind of impaired driving, caused a wreck, a Kent personal injury attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well, in some extreme cases. Generally, the company that owned the big rig, or its cargo, is financially responsible for these damages, thanks to the respondeat superior doctrine.

*Medical Records* This compensation is available if a victim/plaintiff proves negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Typically, the more proof a victim presents, the more compensation jurors award.

Medical records, both from the victim and from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) are often key in this area.

The victim’s medical records establish clinical information, like diagnosis, treatment, and cost data. Furthermore, these records usually include treatment notes that show the victim’s pain level and emotional state at certain times.

The only medical information these records do not show is the need for future medical treatment if any. If a personal injury settlement does not account for these costs, the victim could be financially responsible for them. So, a Kent personal injury lawyer often partners with a medical expert who evaluates these records, and other evidence, and predicts probable future expenses.

The tortfeasor’s medical records often contain information about sleep apnea. This condition, which is very common among truck drivers and others who sit a lot, makes it impossible to get deep, restorative sleep. Instead, since the primary airway closes during sleep, these individuals nap all night. So, they are fatigued the next day, even if they got a full night’s rest.

On a related note, circadian rhythm fatigue is also a serious problem among commercial operators, especially if their work schedules are erratic. Most people are naturally drowsy late at night and early in the morning. Most truckers are behind the wheel at these times.

*Electronic Evidence* Before the government’s Electronic Logging Device requirement took effect, the trucking industry fought the mandate all the way to the Supreme Court. These lawyers knew these gadgets give a Kent personal injury lawyer game-changing evidence in drowsy driver cases.

Until recently, truckers logged their hours manually. These records were easy to fake. An ELD provides almost bulletproof evidence of fatigue. These devices, which are attached to the drivetrain, accurately track truck drivers’ driving hours and rest periods.

Attorneys must overcome some legal hurdles to access ELDs. For example, Washington has very strict vehicle information privacy laws. Attorneys usually need court orders before they can inspect and download ELDs.

*Reach Out to a Thorough King County Attorney* Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Kent, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.