Distracted driving is a problem for all motorists, but the consequences are particularly severe when truckers are distracted. Because these vehicles are so heavy, they cause crushing injuries when they slam into other vehicles on the road. Many accident victims are unable to leave the accident scene under their own power. Instead, they find themselves in the back of an ambulance, racing to the hospital.
Salango Law can help. Our Charleston, West Virginia truck accident lawyers can pull together proof that a trucker was distracted or otherwise negligent. Contact us today to find out more.
Can Truckers Use Cell Phones?
Only when their rigs are stopped. The federal government passed a regulation on the use of hand-held cell phones. This law prohibits any hand-held device when a truck is moving. However, truckers can still use “hands-free” devices, which are activated by pushing only one button. Truckers face serious fines if they break the law, and trucking companies can also face penalties.
Are Hands-Free Devices Safe To Use?
They are less safe than the government probably thinks. It’s true that with a hands-free device, a trucker can place both hands on the wheel. That improves safety. But hands-free devices still lead to cognitive distraction. This means a driver’s attention is split between driving and talking on the phone. Consequently, many truckers still get into accidents using a hands-free device because they are distracted.
In fact, research shows that a conversation continues to distract a trucker for nearly a half minute. So truckers are prone to accidents even after they finish conversations.
Can I Sue A Trucker For Using A Cell Phone While Driving?
Yes—if that contributed to the crash. At Salango Law, our West Virginia truck accident lawyers can find evidence the driver was on the phone. For example, we might subpoena the trucker’s cell phone records. These records should show clearly when the trucker was on the phone.
Can Eating Or Drinking Cause Truck Driver Distractions?
Yes. There are many problems with doing either while driving. For one thing, you probably remove at least one hand from the wheel, sometimes both hands. It’s hard to take defensive action when only one hand is on the wheel.
For another, eating and drinking require focus. If you spill food on your body, then it’s natural to focus on cleaning up the mess. Many truckers eat while driving because they are on a deadline and don’t want to stop. Unfortunately, they get into an accident because they are too distracted to notice a vehicle or pedestrian near them.
Often, it is obvious that a trucker was eating or drinking. They might exit the cab while holding food or a beverage after an accident. Others throw their trash in a ditch to hide it.
What Are Other Sources Of Truck Driver Distraction?
Many different things can conspire to take a driver’s eyes and attention away from the road:
- Fiddling with dials. A trucker might be adjusting the vents or the radio and not looking at the road.
- Talking with a guest. Many truckers have someone in the cab with them, even if they shouldn’t. Conversations are definitely distracting.
- Monotony. Driving is incredibly boring, especially on the highway, where mile after mile passes without any change in scenery. As a result, a trucker’s thoughts might wander, and they don’t pay attention.
- Music. Sound is also a distraction. Loud music or even talk radio could draw a trucker’s attention away from their driving.
- GPS device. Some truckers drive in unfamiliar territory. They might cling to their GPS device to point them in the proper direction. Unfortunately, they can easily become distracted when they should have both eyes on the road.
In sum, many different distractions confront a trucker. Nonetheless, truckers have a duty to drive carefully, including minimizing distractions.
How Do I Know If A Truck Driver Was Distracted?
Some truckers might admit they were distracted. If not, we need to look at other clues. Some accidents are often caused by distraction, such as drifting into another lane, which is a clear sign a driver’s eyes weren’t on the road. A rear-end collision is often the result of distraction or fatigue.
We can request information like cell phone records. If you saw the trucker exit holding food or a beverage, then we can use your testimony. The same is true if you saw someone get out of the cab with the trucker after the collision.
Can I Sue If A Trucker Was Distracted?
Yes. Distracted driving is a form of negligence in West Virginia. Truck drivers must operate their vehicles safely and reasonably. Talking on the phone or with a guest in the cab can qualify as negligence.
A negligent truck driver should pay compensation to cover the costs of the accident, including:
- Medical care to treat injuries
- Future medical care for long-lasting injuries
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Damage to your vehicle
Can I Sue The Trucking Company For My Accident?
Yes, in many cases. A trucking company might employ the driver. Employers are typically responsible for accidents that their employees cause on the job. So if a negligent trucker hurts you, you can sue the employer.
Other trucking companies are liable because they might not discipline or supervise truckers for illegal cell phone use. In fact, the trucking company might require that the trucker send texts or emails at certain times, even if driving. This would be an independent reason to hold the trucking company responsible.
Is Distracted Driving Illegal In West Virginia?
West Virginia law bans texting or using a cell phone while driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has also banned the use of hand-held devices. Other behavior, such as fiddling with the dials or eating behind the wheel, is not illegal. However, any behavior which shows a lack of reasonable care can result in a lawsuit.
Contact A Seasoned West Virginia Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accidents are traumatic events. Many victims face a long road to recovery, including possible surgery and months of rehabilitation or bed rest. The financial stress caused is considerable. Fortunately, Salango Law is here to help anyone who has suffered injuries in a truck wreck.
If you contact us today, our Charleston injury legal team can discuss your case, recommend a course of action, and negotiate a settlement. When necessary, we can also file a lawsuit to protect your ability to receive damages. We rely on years of experience in this field and are eager to learn more about your accident and injuries. To schedule a consultation, call (304) 342-0512 or contact us online.