Does Drowsy Driving Cause Truck Wrecks?

Drowsy driving happens far more often than most people want to believe. Falling asleep at the wheel is the most disastrous consequence of driving while drowsy or fatigued, but drowsiness can also cause drivers to be less attentive, to have slower reaction times when they encounter adverse road conditions, and to make poor driving decisions.  How common is it?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy driving-related crashes claimed 795 lives in 2017 alone. And tens of thousands more suffer serious injuries as a result of these types of crashes.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for approximately 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths annually. The CDC goes on to say that these are conservative estimates, and driving while drowsy or fatigued may actually be responsible for as many as 6,000 fatal crashes each year.

Approximately one out of every 25 drivers over the age of 18 admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at least once during the past 30 days.

Drowsy driving usually occurs when a motorist has not had enough sleep before they get behind the wheel, but there are other factors that can contribute to this practice as well, things like alcohol, medications, driving for long periods of time, and untreated sleep disorders.  Experts report that individuals who snore or get less than 6 hours of sleep on a daily basis are more likely to fall asleep while driving.  The group most susceptible to the risks of drowsy driving though commercial truck drivers.

Drowsy Driving in the Trucking Industry

Driving a big rig truck is a very stressful job. Truckers typically put in long hours and spend several consecutive days driving over-the-road, and much of that time is spent driving during evening and overnight hours. This problem is made worse by trucking companies that put undue pressure on drivers to exceed Hours of Service regulations to deliver their loads on time. Under these conditions, it comes as little surprise that truckers are highly susceptible to becoming tired and fatigued when they are behind the wheel.

Sleep disorders are common in the trucking industry. According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study, almost one-third of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. When this condition is left untreated, it negatively impacts the quantity and quality of your sleep, making you less alert and focused while you are awake.

FMCSA regulations do not directly address sleep apnea, but they do prescribe that any individual with a medical condition that is likely to interfere with their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle should not be medically qualified to drive a commercial truck. However, as it stands today, truck drivers are not required to be tested specifically for sleep apnea, which means trucking companies may still be hiring drivers who have this condition and may not even know it.

Drowsy Driving and Trucking Accidents

When a large commercial truck is involved in a wreck, the consequences can be disastrous.  A fully-loaded semi-truck typically carries in excess of 80,000 pounds and, because of their weight and presence, they can do widespread damage when they collide with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian.

Injuries from big rig trucking accidents are among the most serious and catastrophic.  In fact, occupants of other vehicles are 28 times more likely to be severely injured or killed (than occupants of large commercial trucks) when these vehicles are involved in a collision. In the vast majority of cases, these wrecks are the fault of the truck driver . . . and drowsy driving is often a major contributing factor.

Injured in a Drowsy Driving Accident in Alabama? Call Our Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys

Truck accident cases are typically far more complex than a standard auto accident. There are often multiple parties that may share responsibility (such as the driver, trucking company, the owner or lessor of the truck, the shipping company that may have overloaded the truck, a vehicle or vehicle part manufacturer just to list a few).  As a result, a thorough investigation is required to determine the root cause. Trucking companies also tend to be very uncooperative, and in a state like Alabama where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine that says that, if they can place even 1% of the blame on the other driver, they will not have to pay anything, these companies will take aggressive actions to try to pin at least some of the blame on you, so they can avoid paying out damages.  In fact, in serious cases, the trucking company will often have investigators at the scene, gathering evidence, before those they hurt even leave the hospital.

At The Law Offices of Troy King, we have extensive experience successfully representing clients injured in trucking accidents in Alabama. From the moment we take the case, we go to work immediately to preserve important pieces of evidence and help you recover the maximum damages to which the law makes you entitled. Because of the complexities involved with these types of cases, it is best to get in contact with us as soon as possible, so we can take the steps necessary to gather and preserve evidence and to fully protect your legal right to compensation.

Call our office today at 334-215-4440 to schedule your free consultation with our legal team. You may also stop by our Montgomery office in person at your convenience, or if you are unable to come to our office, we will come to you.  

expert witness

The Importance of an Expert Witness in an Injury Case

When you or someone you care about has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, it would be nice if the person or business at fault took full responsibility, but this generally isn’t what happens. Instead, in a personal injury case like that, the injured party has the “burden of proof.” That means that it is their responsibility to show that they suffered damages due to the defendant’s negligence.  To make matters worse, Alabama has an outdated and unfair rule called “contributory negligence” that says that if a person is even 1% at fault in a wreck, they are treated by the law like they are 100% at fault and cannot recover.

Personal injury attorneys often turn to expert witnesses to help overcome these unfair laws by using them to explain more nuanced and complex elements of a case. The input and interpretation from an expert regarding complicated issues can be the difference between whether a person can recover or not.

What Qualifies a Witness as an “Expert”?

In personal injury cases, witnesses are generally put into two categories: lay and expert. By default, anyone who isn’t an “expert” is considered a lay witness. So, what makes a person an “expert”?

While there is no universal definition for this, there are certain factors that are used to qualify a person to testify or to serve in a consulting role in an injury case. These include that person’s skill, experience, knowledge, education, and training. Some of the things that might help qualify an expert witness include:

  • Reputation,
  • Credentials,
  • Educational and professional experience,
  • Publication in peer-reviewed journals, and
  • Prior expert witness experience.

How Expert Witnesses Differ from Other Witnesses

An expert is considered a specialist in their particular field. For example, medical professionals such as neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, psychiatrists, and pharmacists have specialized experience and training that allows them to offer unique insights and explanations of a case’s more technical aspects.

Lay witnesses, on the other hand, can only offer testimony about their personal knowledge and perception of events. These are often people who witnessed the accident but who have no technical or expert knowledge. In disputed liability cases, lay witness testimony can be incredibly valuable, but it may need to be supplemented by expert testimony.

Experts are considered impartial to the outcome of the case and are granted more leeway in testimony than a lay witness. While lay witnesses can’t offer their opinions, an expert is asked to provide their opinion as long as:

  • The opinion is based on data and facts,
  • The expert’s specialized knowledge will be helpful to determine a fact or better understand evidence,
  • Reliable methods were used to generate the opinion, and
  • The expert reliably applied methods to the evidence and facts of the case.

How Expert Witnesses Help in Personal Injury Cases

Since experts have special knowledge or experience, they are considered a trusted source of information by many judges and juries. Some of the ways that these experts are used in personal injury cases include:

  • Proving Negligence. The theory of negligence drives most personal injury lawsuits. This requires that you, as the plaintiff, show that the responsible party breached a specific responsibility or duty. In some cases, this is clear, and, in others, it becomes more complex. Expert witness testimony can help clarify such things as whether the defendant had a duty, what their responsibility to you was, and if their behavior breached that duty.
  • Explain Complex Evidence. An expert can convey complex data that jurors might otherwise ignore in layman’s terms, so that is more valuable to your case.
  • Clarify Damages. Since one of our goals is also to maximize your award for damages, experts such as physicians, vocational experts, and economists can testify about the severity and long-term financial impact of your injuries.

When Expert Witnesses Should Be Used

Expert witness testimony can be essential to a positive outcome in a personal injury case. While they pose an extra expense, this must be weighed against the potential cost of a lengthy trial or a lower settlement offer. At the Law Office of Troy King, we make a careful determination about the use of experts in each case we handle. Some of the respected experts that could benefit your case include:

  • Appraisers
  • Accident reconstructionists
  • Physicians
  • Toxicologists
  • Medical examiners
  • Vocational experts
  • Forensic evidence specialists

Were you injured in a Montgomery accident? If you or someone you love has been hurt, through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. At the Law Office of Troy King, our focus is to hold the parties responsible for these injuries accountable while protecting the rights of accident victims like yourself.

Contact our office today at (334) 215-4440 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll thoroughly review your case, determine if expert witnesses would be appropriate, and outline a case strategy to help get you the full and fair compensation you need and deserve.

commercial truck accident attorney

How to Avoid an Accident with a Big Rig

Every year in Alabama, there are thousands of large trucks involved in collisions. Tragically, many of these wrecks – more than 100 per year on average – are fatal. Those collisions that are not fatal often leave vehicle occupants with serious injuries, some of which are life-changing.

Unfortunately, you cannot depend on the truck drivers to keep you safe.  In fact, they are often overworked, pushed by their companies to drive further and longer and with heavier loads than the law even allows.  As you navigate Alabama’s roadways, here are some tips for avoiding an accident with a big rig and staying safe:

Keep Your Distance

Perhaps the best way to avoid an accident with a big rig is to not get too close to them to begin with.  You should keep as much distance between your vehicle and a large truck as possible.

If you do have to drive around large trucks (as will surely be inevitable at some point), remember that large trucks require much more room than smaller vehicles do when it comes to changing lanes, passing, and stopping. It’s especially important to remember that the required stopping distance for a large truck that is traveling at 65 miles per hour in good conditions is nearly two football fields’ worth of space.  Allow large trucks the room that they need to maneuver the road safely.

Drive Sober and Focused

Regardless of where you are driving or the type or number of other vehicles on the road, you should always make driving sober and distraction-free a priority. When you are fatigued, distracted, or impaired by alcohol or drugs (including over-the-counter and prescription medications), you increase your risk of an accident. In addition to staying focused, remember to always make sure to buckle up, as doing so could save your life in the event that you are in a crash.

Never Drive in a Truck’s Blind Spots

All vehicles have blind spots, but the blind spots on trucks are especially large. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reminds drivers that large truck drivers have a hard time seeing anything that is 20 feet directly in front of their vehicles, 30 feet directly behind their vehicles, one lane to the left of their vehicles, and two lanes to the right of their vehicles. Here are some handy tips to keep in mind when you share the road with big trucks:

  • Be alert to these zones and never drive in them. 
  • Never tailgate a large truck. 
  • Provide plenty of distance when lane-changing in front of a large truck. 
  • Always pass quickly.

Remember that Trucks Make Wide Turns

Drivers of passenger cars often get impatient when large trucks are turning in front of them, and may make the fatal error of attempting to pass a large truck while it is in the process of rounding a turn. Large trucks require more turning room than do smaller vehicles, and, as such, may turn from the middle or outside lane, and may swing wide in making the turn. While this can be frustrating for drivers of smaller vehicles who are in a hurry to get by, never attempt to pass a truck while it is turning. Attempting to pass a truck that is turning could result in a “squeeze-play” accident, which happens when a smaller vehicle becomes “squeezed” between the curb or another object and the body of the larger truck.

Exercise Basic Safe Driving Techniques

Driving around large trucks presents unique challenges and hazards, and passenger car drivers should be aware of the things like blind spots and the required stopping distance for larger vehicles. However, drivers should also exercise the basic safe driving techniques that are recommended every time a driver gets behind a wheel, such as always signaling before changing lanes and making your intentions clear, yielding when required, refraining from tailgating or cutting off another driver, maintaining a safe speed, and never driving aggressively.

Call Our Alabama Truck Accident Lawyers

Even when you act as safely as you possibly can when driving around a large truck, the actions of the truck driver or another driver, or unforeseeable circumstances, such as a tire blowout, can result in a devastating truck accident. If you are involved in a serious truck accident in Alabama, our truck accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Troy King can represent you in your claim for damages. Establishing liability and recovering your full damages award in a truck accident claim can be difficult; our lawyers help you to maximize your settlement and recover the damages you deserve.  The companies that own and insure these trucks will often send experts to the scene to gather and preserve evidence that they hope will keep them from having to pay a claim oftentimes before you even leave the hospital.  It is important that you have someone doing the same for you.  And the sooner, the better!

To schedule your free consultation with our legal team, please call us today at 334-215-4440 or send us a message using the contact form on our website. You can visit our Montgomery location to speak to our lawyers, or we will come to you.

burn injuries attorney

Burn Injuries – What You Need to Know

If you or someone you love has suffered a serious burn injury, you already know that this can be a devastating time.  The injuries are painful and the recovery is long and, often, incomplete.  If another party caused your injury through a deliberate, negligent, or careless act, you may have a right to compensation.

According to the American Burn Association, close to 500,000 burn accidents occur each year that are severe enough to require medical attention. Because burn injuries have a high survival rate, the victims of these accidents are often forced to endure ongoing physical pain, expensive medical care, and sometimes lasting disfigurations and limitations.

Different Types of Burn Injuries

Burns can come from a variety of sources, all of which have the potential to cause severe injury and even lead to death. The Cleveland Clinic outlines some of the different agents that can cause a burn injury:

  • Wet heat. A wet heat burn can happen when the body comes into contact with a hot liquid or steam. Scalding injuries typically occur when cooking and in some industrial situations.
  • Dry heat. The most common cause of a dry heat injury is fire. People who suffer from these injuries also might have to deal with smoke inhalation issues.
  • Electricity. When the body is exposed to an electrical current, the injuries can be so severe that they are fatal.
  • Friction. A friction burn injury happens when the body is rubbed or dragged against a surface or object. These are common with motor vehicle, motorcycle, and bicycle accidents.
  • Chemicals. Chemical burns can occur after exposure to alkaline or acidic substances. These burns can occur on the skin or happen internally if a chemical was ingested or inhaled.

The Severity of a Burn Injury

Burn injuries are categorized based on how severe they are, and this can also dictate what type of treatment you might require. These categories include:

  • First degree burns. These are considered minor burns that affect only the skin’s (epidermis) outer layer. Common symptoms of these burns include mild to moderate pain, swelling, and redness. With minor treatment, such as cool water and over the counter pain relievers, these burns generally heal in about a week.
  • Second degree These burns are considered more serious because they affect both the epidermis and the dermis, which is the next layer of skin. Common symptoms are more severe pain, blistering, redness, and the possibility of infection. Treatment includes covering the burn as well as cooling and sterilizing it by a medical professional. It could take several months for this type of burn to heal.
  • Third degree This is the most serious and severe type of burn, which goes through all layers of skin and often damages the muscle and soft tissue underneath. There could be a loss of sensation, and there is also charred or blackened areas of skin. These burns require immediate medical attention, could result in permanent damage or even death and may require many years of follow-up medical care.

Typical Causes of Burn Injuries

Burns caused by scalding, fire, chemicals, and electricity happen daily and impact people of all ages and backgrounds. These accidents can occur in a variety of settings, and sometimes another person or party is to blame. Some of the common accidents known to cause burn injuries include:

  • Car accidents. When a car crash occurs, gas from the engine can lead to an explosion and fire. The United States Fire Administration reports that these types of fires account for roughly 17% of this nation’s fire emergency calls.
  • Defective products. Any consumer product that uses a battery or electricity has the potential to overheat and cause injury if it has some sort of defect.  All too often, products like space heaters and electric blankets malfunction and start fires or cause burns that have devastating (and, often, deadly) results.
  • Workplace accidents. Thousands of accidents happen in the workplace each year, and many involve explosions and electrocution injuries.
  • Gas explosions. Anyplace where there is a gas furnace, propane tank, or water heater has a risk of an explosion.

Speak with a Qualified Montgomery Burn Injury Attorney

Burn injuries are painful and can change your life in numerous ways. If you need representation and advice about pursuing your rights in a severe burn injury case, contact our office now for a free initial consultation.

At the Law Office of Troy King, our personal injury attorneys are strong legal advocates for victims who were injured because of the careless or negligent acts of other individuals or organizations. Our goal is to represent those who place their trust and their cases in us with purpose and passion, and to help ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries. That is what I mean when I tell you that we are still protecting you.

Call us now at (334) 215-4440.  The call and the initial advice are always free.