drowned during a mud run. In 2013, a Pennsylvania hospital’s emergency services took in 38 patients during a Tough Mudder (extreme obstacle course) event. Of course, there are many of these kinds of incidents, and they can quickly become tragic. Extreme sports and obstacle courses are exhilarating, in part, because of the risk-factor. Liability waivers are designed to protect organizations from lawsuits arising from certain injuries or death. However, many waivers are not enforceable, even when a participant signs the document.What happens if you get injured while rafting, paragliding, BASE jumping, or another extreme sport? Many of these activities require liability waivers, but a waiver does not necessarily preclude an injured individual from taking legal action against the organizer. In 2012, a man in Fort Worth
What Affects the Protectiveness of a Waiver?Every state has different laws regarding contracts including waivers. Some states may not accept the terms or the structure of a waiver under state law. Assuming state laws do support the enforceability of a waiver, the waiver may still not protect the organization from a lawsuit. A waiver only protects an organization within the limited scope outlined in the document. In other words, an organization may be liable for an injury that goes above and beyond the terms of the waiver. For instance, if you were injured because an organization knowingly changed the hazardous nature of an activity or failed to take reasonable safety precautions (extreme negligence), you may still be able to hold the organization accountable. A good rule of thumb is to look at the nature of the activity and see if the factor that caused harm could have been reasonably eliminated without changing the nature of the activity. If it could have been removed or altered, then the waiver may not protect the organization from a lawsuit.
The Complexity of Waiver Enforceability in TexasEnforceability of waivers is a complicated matter in Texas. There are no written laws that explicitly define what a liability waiver must contain to remain enforceable. Instead, courts rely on a patchwork arrangement of court opinions and interpretations to determine enforceability on a case-by-case basis. If you have an attorney who understands the framework for enforceability in Texas, he or she can review the waiver and develop a case that either contests enforceability or goes beyond the scope of the waiver. For instance, if a parent signs a waiver for a child to go whitewater rafting, the parent may give up the ability to file a claim, but a child may recover some damages.
Always Talk to an Attorney After an Extreme Activity InjuryAfter a high risk activity accident, secure a copy of your signed liability waiver. Keep any recordings that capture the time of the incident, and tell your medical provider about your injury. If you were using equipment that malfunctioned, take pictures of the equipment. Some individuals assume a waiver will keep them from recovering damages after an injury. As a result, they never pursue a legal consultation to determine if they have grounds for a lawsuit. At the Law Offices of Aaron A. Herbert PC, our initial consultations are always free, and we can help you determine if a lawsuit is the right course of action. Knowing your rights can help you take action after an accident. You probably don’t need to have your attorney review every waiver before you, but don’t be afraid to reach out to an attorney if you have any questions. You may have options to secure financial compensation that will cover the cost of your injury and rehabilitation. For more information, contact the Law Offices of Aaron A. Herbert PC in San Antonio.
wrongful death to other roadway users. They are much larger and heavier than passenger cars, leading to catastrophic collisions. Unfortunately, truck drivers do not always fulfill their responsibility to drive safely. They often engage in dangerous driver behaviors, such as driving while fatigued.Commercial trucking companies and their drivers are responsible for the safety of their transports. Commercial trucks pose significant risks of injury and even a
Is Drowsy Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving?Drowsy driving is a deadly driver mistake. Truck driver fatigue is behind hundreds of fatal commercial vehicle accidents every year. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2018, 4,862 fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. involved large trucks. Investigations have shown that about 13 percent of truck accidents are connected to truck driver drowsiness or fatigue. Studies have shown that driving drowsy is comparable to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, operating a vehicle after not sleeping for 18 hours impairs a driver the same amount as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.05 percent. Driving after being awake for at least 24 hours is the equivalent of a BAC of 0.10 percent. The legal BAC limit in Texas is 0.08 percent. The legal BAC limit for a commercial driver, however, is only 0.04 percent. Both drowsy driving and drunk driving place a driver in a state of impairment that can impede the ability to safely control and operate a motor vehicle. Like drugs or alcohol, fatigue can reduce reaction times, affect coordination, weaken the muscles and make a driver less alert. This can increase the risk of a truck driver causing a serious accident, such as a rear-end collision, chain-reaction accident or jackknife accident.
Why Are Truckers More Likely Than Other Drivers to Drive While Fatigued?Any driver in San Antonio could be guilty of driving while drowsy or fatigued. However, commercial truck drivers are especially notorious for making this mistake. They are more likely to drive while fatigued than most other types of drivers due to the unique conditions of their work environments. Some of the most common causes of truck driver fatigue include:
- Long hours on the road alone
- Reversed sleep schedules
- Physical or mental exertion
- Trouble sleeping/inadequate sleep
- Time changes
- Sleep apnea
- Poor diet or obesity
- Medical conditions
- The use of stimulants such as coffee
Who Is Liable for Truck Accidents Caused By Driver Fatigue?If driver fatigue causes a truck accident in Texas, the person or party most responsible for causing the collision will have to pay for damages. This is how Texas’s tort-based insurance system operates. Although the drowsy truck driver is technically responsible for his or her dangerous mistake, the rule of vicarious liability may hold a trucking company financially responsible for the collision. Vicarious liability holds employers responsible for the actions of their employees who were performing job-related tasks at the time of an accident. If a fatigued truck driver was an employee of a trucking company at the time of the wreck, the company could be vicariously liable for damages. The trucking company could also be directly liable if it contributed to the accident by encouraging a driver to violate safety rules. If the driver was an independent owner/operator, however, he or she may be individually liable for the crash.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney TodayIf you believe you were injured in a truck accident caused by truck driver fatigue, contact the San Antonio truck accident attorneys at The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. We offer free and confidential consultations.
The Risks of Nighttime DrivingThere were more than twice as many traffic accidents in “dark, not lighted” conditions (29,757) than “dark, lighted” (12,744) in Texas in 2016. It is more difficult for any driver to maneuver safely as roadway light diminishes. Most urban highways in Texas have some kind of lighting system, but rural highways and smaller roads often do not. This increases crash frequency and severity. There is a high risk of accidents when lack of proper lighting is combined with long nighttime driving hours and drowsy truck drivers. Truck drivers aren’t the only ones who suffer in poor lighting. It is difficult to see 18-wheelers in the dark, despite their large size. The non-reflective sides of most trailers make them almost invisible in low-light conditions. Trucks should have reflectors or lights on the top and bottom of the trailer to help improve visibility. Broken lights or no lights at all can lead to another driver plowing straight into the truck. In these cases, the trucking company may be liable for the accident. The city also may also be responsible for poor roadway lighting.
Who May Be Liable?After a truck accident, a victim’s first thought is likely to hold the driver liable. This may be the case if the driver behaved in a way that breached industry standards, such as falling asleep behind the wheel. If a dangerous roadway condition contributed to the crash, you may be able to hold the city of San Antonio (or other municipality) responsible. Inadequate roadway lighting is a dangerous condition in the eyes of the law. What constitutes “inadequate lighting” depends on the specific area. Factors a city must consider when deciding where and how to install lights include:
- Traffic volume and speed
- Nighttime road use and crash rate
- Road geometrics
- General nighttime visibility
- Style, height, and brightness of the fixtures