Semi-truck accidents caused by driver fatigue can expose truck drivers to liability for any injuries or deaths resulting from the crash. The key factor is the driver's negligence: whether that driver failed to exercise the kind of reasonable care expected under the circumstances.
One truck driver has been charged with two counts of homicide by vehicle after his tractor-trailer crossed a highway median and killed two Maryland residents, a mother and daughter. The driver stated that at the time of the crash, "my brain shut off...something happened in my head." While no official explanation has been given for why that truck crossed the median, a state trooper has testified that the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel at the time of the crash. Two other motorists in a third car were also injured in the incident and had to be hospitalized.
The victims and families of victims in such cases may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, wrongful death, or lost income and earning capacity. If a trucker drives in spite of being too tired to do so responsibly and causes other drivers to be injured or killed in an accident, a court may find that trucker negligent and liable for the victims' injuries. If the driver has an employment relationship with a trucking company, as opposed to being an unsupervised independent contractor, that company may be liable as well.
Responsible driving is especially important for the operators of large, heavy vehicles such as tractor-trailers. The driver in this fatal accident is being held on $1 million bond.
Source: KDKA 2, "Tractor Trailer Driver: My Brain Shut Off," Nov. 28, 2012