Multiple agencies are investigating a possible drowsy driving wreck that involved a Toyota Camry and a semi-truck.
When they arrived at the crash scene in the 10400 block of South State Road 47, at a little before 4 a.m., officers discovered a 2020 Toyota Camry had collided with a 2003 Kenworth semi pulling a tanker trailer. The semi had been traveling northbound, and for an unknown reason the southbound Camry crossed the center lane of travel and struck the semi head on. The Camry driver was declared dead at the scene. Cory Farms Trucking LLC of Tangiers owned the truck.
Crash reconstructionists from the Crawfordsville Police Department, Crawfordsville Fire Department, Waveland Fire Department, Montgomery County Coroner, Montgomery County Emergency Management and Wilson’s and Froedge’s towing companies are continuing their investigation.
Evidence in Fatigued Driver Claims
Basically, fatigued drivers are drunk non-drinkers. Driving after twenty consecutive awake hours, not twenty consecutive working hours, is like driving with a .08 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for all Kentucky drivers.
The negligence per se doctrine rarely applies in these cases. Fatigued driving usually isn’t against the law. In fact, many emergency response teams, like police departments, don’t even have a code for drowsy driving-related wrecks. As a result, a Lexington personal injury attorney must usually rely on the ordinary negligence doctrine. Basically, ordinary negligence is a lack of ordinary care.
Both direct and circumstantial evidence is available in these cases. Direct evidence of fatigue, especially in truck driver claims, usually includes a vehicle’s Electronic Logging Device. Trucking industry lawyers fought the ELD mandate all the way to the Supreme Court. They know the information of an ELD is very compelling in drowsy truck driver claims.
ELDs are connected to drivetrains. So, while the truck is in motion, the HOS (hours of service) clock is ticking. Industry standards apply as to the amount of time a driver can safely be behind the wheel on a daily and weekly basis.
Incidentally, to combat fatigue, about a quarter of truck drivers use amphetamines. These drugs help truckers feel alert, but they also impair judgment skills. Additionally, when speed wears off, users crash hard and fast.
If direct evidence of drowsiness is unavailable in Kentucky, circumstantial evidence of fatigue includes:
- Time of Day: Many people are naturally drowsy early in the morning and late at night, no matter how much rest they had the night before. Circadian rhythm fatigue is especially bad if the driver’s daily schedule recently changed.
- Medical Records: Millions of people suffer from sleep apnea, a condition which makes it impossible to truly fall asleep. Instead, these individuals basically nap all night. As a result, they’re tired the next day, no matter how long they were in bed.
- Erratic Driving Before the Crash: Due to motor skill impairment, drowsy drivers cannot effectively control their vehicles. Additionally, drowsy drivers usually can’t remember the last few miles traveled, like the sights they passed along the way.
In an ordinary negligence claim, a Lexington personal injury lawyer must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
First Party Liability
In the above story, it appears that the Camry driver was responsible for the wreck. But appearances can be deceiving. That’s especially true in semi-truck wrecks. Commercial drivers have a higher duty of care.
Noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and avoid accidents if they can. Commercial operators, on the other hand, have a duty of utmost care. They must take affirmative steps to avoid vehicle collisions.
Driving late at night is a good example. Many truckers drive at these hours because traffic is lighter and they can deliver their loads faster. However, because of the duty of utmost care, truckers can’t prioritize profitability above safety. Arguably, they cannot drive when the risk of a collision is higher.
Nevertheless, there’s no doubt the Camry driver may have been partially at fault. If that’s true, the comparative fault doctrine usually applies, and jurors must divide responsibility on a percentage basis.
Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state. Therefore, even if a victim is 99 percent responsible for a wreck, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is responsible for a proportionate share of damages.
The bottom line is that car crash victims should always ask a Lexington personal injury attorney to evaluate their cases. Only a lawyer should examine legal matters such as liability for damages in a car wreck.
These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Third Party Liability
Negligent truckers are legally responsible for damages in these cases. The shipping companies or other companies that owned the trucks are financially responsible for damages, because of the respondeat superior rule.
This legal doctrine applies if an employee was negligent during the course and scope of employment. Although most truckers are non-employees for tax purposes, they’re employees for negligence purposes.
Usually, as is the case in the above story, the shipping or other company is an out-of-state holding company. So, these claims are quite complex.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.