$48.5

Million

We Won $48.5 Million in a Truck Accident Case

In this case, we took more than 60 depositions in five different states. Because of Stephenson’s tireless advocacy, shortly before the trial was to commence, the defendants settled the case for $48.5 million.

When a truck driver doesn’t get enough sleep, it can significantly impair his or her physical and cognitive abilities. Drowsiness can lead to a lack of alertness, poor decision-making, a reduction in motor skills, and slower response times among drivers. Truck driver fatigue is a serious issue, and it can contribute significantly to catastrophic and deadly truck accidents.

Long-haul truck drivers average 5 hours of sleep per night, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Compare this to the National Sleep Foundation’s guidelines stating that every healthy adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. One report states that 64% of truck drivers say they experience some type of fatigue on a regular basis, and 18% of drivers acknowledge having “fallen asleep at the wheel” at one time or another during their driving career.

There are different kinds of truck driver fatigue. These include:

  • Industrial Fatigue
    Industrial fatigue arises from working continuously over an extended period of time without adequate rest. This type of fatigue is estimated to cause the majority of fatigue-related crashes. Research shows that 65% of truck accidents happen during the second half of a trucker’s trip, regardless of trip length.
  • Cumulative Fatigue
    Cumulative fatigue happens when a person works too many days on a protracted, repetitive task without a meaningful extended break. This type of fatigue often results in dulled senses and loss of alertness due to familiarity and boredom.
  • Circadian Fatigue
    Circadian fatigue is caused by interruptions to the unique bio-rhythms in the human body. Human beings are pre-disposed physiologically to work that involves regular daytime hours. Because truck driving often involves irregular nighttime hours, a body’s circadian rhythms can be thrown off, causing fatigue, dullness, and disorientation.

Truck Driver Rest Requirements

Truck driver fatigue laws attempt to prevent dangerous crashes.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) service regulations require property-carrying drivers (including truckers) to adhere to:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit – Truckers can drive 11 hours after having 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 30-Minute Driving Break – Truckers must take a 30-minute break when they’ve driven 8 cumulative hours.
  • 60/70 Hour Limit – Truckers may not drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive-day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Adverse Driving Conditions – Truckers are allowed to extend the 11-hour maximum driving limit by up to 2 hours when adverse weather and driving conditions are encountered.

FMCSA has imposed these requirements on truck drivers to prevent fatigue and ensure that every driver gets a minimum amount of sleep, rest, meals, and relaxation time.

What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?

Watch for warning signs of truck driver fatigue in Indiana.

There are several factors that can contribute to truck driver fatigue – some are unique to the individual driver, and some are a result of the wider trucking industry. Following are common conditions that lead to Indiana truck driver fatigue:

  • Tight Delivery Deadlines
    Professional truck drivers are often on tight delivery deadlines, which can lead to speeding and driving beyond the allowable daily hours established by law. This is especially true if drivers are trying to make up time after being slowed by bad weather or traffic back-ups on the highway. When big-rig drivers are stressed and sleep deprived, it can lead to chronic truck driver fatigue.
  • Shortage of Truck Drivers
    There’s a serious nationwide shortage of truck drivers in America, which means that drivers on the job are in high demand and working maximum hours. This can lead to truck driver fatigue. The U.S. truck driver shortage is estimated to be 80,000 drivers, and the shortage is expected to get worse. The American Trucking Association estimates that it will have to recruit 1 million new truck drivers in the next 9 years, adding that the trucker shortage could rise to 160,000 by 2030 if something isn’t done. New training programs are designed to get younger and younger people into the truck driving profession. However, younger drivers also mean less experienced drivers, which can lead to more accidents.
  • Bottlenecks in Supply Chain
    When the nation’s supply chain gets backed up due to high consumer demand and stalled cargo shipping lanes, truck drivers experience delays in picking up trailers at seaports before they can get on the road. Bottlenecks in logistics can leave drivers idling in their cabs at ports for hours before being loaded with a cargo container and starting their journey to warehouses and other destinations. Hours of waiting can cause boredom and fatigue among truck drivers.
  • Use of Drugs or Alcohol
    While most truck drivers are responsible, others are not. Some drivers abuse alcohol or drugs while on the road, which can bring on fatigue, negligence, and reckless driving. Alcohol and some illegal drugs are sedatives, which can reduce a driver’s alertness, motor skills, and response time. Marijuana use is also a problem because some U.S. states have legalized marijuana, but the substance is still banned federally.

Truck Driver Fatigue Statistics

Sleepiness and fatigue can cause serious truck accidents.

If you want to understand how tiredness affects the trucking industry, consider these truck driver fatigue statistics:

  • 27.5% of truck drivers report having insomnia.
  • 56% of truck drivers report bad sleep quality.
  • 20.6% of truck drivers report chronic sleep disturbances.
  • 27.9% of truck drivers report loneliness.
  • 26.9% of truck drivers report depression.

Truck driving is not an easy job, given the hours on the road, isolation, hazardous weather and asphalt conditions, and windshield weariness. Over the span of a career, an Indianapolis truck driver can experience chronic fatigue, feelings of displacement, and even clinical mental health challenges.

Trucking Industry FAQs

The more you learn about the trucking industry, the more you see how many factors can impact truck driver fatigue and truck accidents in Indiana. From the size of a big rig to the age of truck drivers, several variables contribute to both the safety and dangers of trucking.

  • A loaded semi-tractor trailer weighs an average of 80,000 pounds. Given that a mid-size car weighs about 3,350 pounds and a motorcycle weighs roughly 700 pounds, you can see why crashes with large trucks frequently result in serious injury or death for passengers in the smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger vehicles and are taller, with greater ground clearance, which means that cars often wedge under trucks in crashes.

  • Roughly 57% of U.S. truck drivers are over the age of 45, and the recent pandemic has spurred additional truck driver retirements. About 23% of truck drivers are over the age of 55. Only 20% of drivers are under the age of 45. That’s why there’s such an urgent need to recruit tens of thousands of new truck drivers. Younger workers are entering the logistics and shipping industry, but 62% of them wind up in warehouse jobs rather than in driving jobs.

  • Trucking is a $792 billion industry that hauls 72.5% of all freight in America and employs 6% of all full-time workers in the U.S. Trucking far outweighs railroads when it comes to the bulk of hauling across America.

  • There are many factors that contribute to the shortage of truckers in America. One of the most significant is the interruption in work/life balance created by long-haul schedules. Truck drivers can be on the road and away from their families for weeks at a time. Also, truck driving can be dangerous, because drivers are often in deserted industrial neighborhoods in cities after dark. Only 7% of commercial truck drivers are women.

  • A sleeper berth is a compartment in the cab of a big rig that provides a bed for a trucker to sleep in. This enables a truck driver to pause at a rest stop or pull over onto the shoulder of a highway and sleep for a few hours.

Truck Accident Statistics

A total of 5,005 people were killed in large truck accidents in 2019, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). An estimated 159,000 people were injured in truck accidents that same year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) data shows that deaths were distributed in the following way:

  • 16% were truck occupants.
  • 67% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles.
  • 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.

An estimated 538,000 large trucks were involved in police-reported traffic crashes nationwide during 2019. According to NHTSA, other truck crash statistics include:

  • 77% of the fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2019 occurred on weekdays (6 a.m. Monday to 5:59 p.m. Friday).
  • Large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 had a higher percentage (22.9%) of previously recorded crashes compared to drivers of other vehicle types (motorcycles, 22.0%; passenger cars, 18.9%; and light trucks, 17.8%).

Common Injuries in Indiana Truck Accidents

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), It is well known from empirical data collection that fatigue can result in an increased risk of crashes, which is due to decreases in performance.” Truck driver fatigue can result in unsafe driving as well as severe and even deadly truck accidents. Common injuries in these accidents can include:

  • Broken bones
  • Concussions
  • TBI
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Cuts, lacerations, and road rash
  • Puncture wounds
  • Burns
  • Paralysis
  • Wrongful death.

Damages You May Be Entitled To

If you’ve been injured in a crash with a large truck in Indianapolis, you may be entitled to a variety of compensation, including economic and non-economic damages. Some of these include:

  • Medical, rehabilitative, and equipment costs (current and future)
  • Lost wages and future lost earnings
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Disability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

If the disregard for safety was particularly egregious, a court can also award punitive damages in addition to the damages above. This financial compensation is meant to punish the trucking company or truck manufacturer for their conduct and to prevent future such accidents from being caused by other would-be bad actors.

Stephenson Rife has been enormously successful in winning truck accident cases. We recently recovered $48 million in damages for one of our clients.

Stephenson Rife Gets Results

The truck accident attorneys at Stephenson Rife have won large settlements on behalf of injured clients who have suffered after being hit by a truck. Some of our most notable settlements include:

  • $48.5 million in a case that involved 60 depositions in 5 different states.
  • $2 million in a case where a passenger in a vehicle was injured when struck by a delivery truck.
  • $250,000 in a case where a young woman sustained severe injuries when a semi-truck pulled out in front of her vehicle.
  • $6.5 million for a victim with brain injury in a garbage truck accident.
  • $3.97 million for a family of a man killed in a tractor trailer crash.

The highly skilled and experienced Indianapolis truck accident lawyers at Stephenson Rife know how to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build a powerful case on our client’s behalf.

Statute of Limitations on Large Truck Accidents in Indiana

Indiana has a statute of limitations (Indiana Code §34-11-2-4) of two years after the date of the truck accident to file a lawsuit in court. If you miss this deadline, a judge will likely dismiss your case. Time is of the essence, so don’t delay. Call a truck accident lawyer in Indianapolis to find out about your legal rights.

Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyers Who Will Fight for You

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. This is especially true if the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence. A skilled and experienced Indianapolis truck accident lawyer can explain your legal rights and fight for the justice you deserve. To find out more about how we can help, contact Stephenson Rife Law Firm at (317) 680-2350. The initial consultation is free.