Carlsbad, NM fatel semi-truck accident results in $2,350,000 verdict
While one truck driver was driving a semi-truck near Carlsbad, NM, another semi-truck driver crossed the center line of a two lane roadway and violently crashed into the driver’s side of the first trucker’s tractor-trailer; the first truck driver passed away at the scene of the accident as a result of the impact. The deceased driver’s adult children hired Will Ferguson & Associates to get answers regarding the circumstances surrounding their father’s death.
Many people don’t know how heavily the trucking industry and commercial carriers are regulated, both federally and by the states. Extensive and strict regulations, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA), govern trucking companies and their drivers so as to maintain the safety of commercial truck drivers and the motoring public. For instance, trucking companies are not permitted to require their drivers to drive more than 14 consecutive hours at a time because drivers become fatigued and are more likely to get into accidents. Truck drivers are even required to keep records of their driving time to ensure they comply with such driving time regulations. However, by paying truck drivers based on the number of miles they travel, the trucking industry has traditionally incentivized drivers to drive as many miles as possible in the shortest amount of time. That being the case, many truck drivers exceed the 14 hour maximum driving time specified by the regulations and falsify their driving logs; and because trucking companies profit from such behavior, they are often willing to overlook such violations. The result is that many truck drivers on the road are over-worked, fatigued, and sleep-deprived which, in turn, results in catastrophic roadway accidents.
In this case, it turned out that the at-fault truck driver was allowed to work as many hours as he wished and that his employer kept no records of his driving hours as required per the FMCSA. The driver had worked 83 hours in the 6 days before the accident. As a result, the driver was nearly asleep at the wheel when he crossed the center line and collided with the deceased. Will Ferguson & Associates brought a wrongful death action on behalf of the deceased driver’s family and, at trial, the jury awarded the deceased’s family over $2.3 million for the wrongful conduct of the driver and his employer.