Florida Truck Accident Attorney
Commercial trucking has remained steady during the economic slow down and it is estimated that the trucking industry will continue to grown over the next few years. The good news is that growth in the trucking industry is good for the economy, the bad news is that many companies focus on profits over people. Tractor-trailer, big rig and dump truck wrecks are most often caused by:
- unrealistic delivery schedules
- aggressive driving
- failure to inspect brakes, tires and lights
- driver fatigue
- long work-shifts
- cell phone use
Statistics tell us that there are more than three truck accidents in the United States every minute in which somebody is hurt or killed. Thousands of people in this country are killed or injured by semi-truck or big rig accidents on our roadways. Goods are transported to South Florida, Central Florida and Tampa's high population centers by commercial trucks. Many tractor-trailer accidents happen on our most frequent highways (I-95), Florida's Turnpike, (I-75) and (I-4). Overworked drivers that are paid by the mile, poor driving, over-sized loads, mechanical failure and other unsafe practices in the truck industry increase the risk of these devastating accidents. But most of these truck accidents happen because of driver error or driver distraction. These big rigs simply do not have the same margin of error that passenger cars do when on our highways.
Truck accidents are much more complex than car accidents because there are a number of different parties that can be responsible for the injuries including the driver, the owner of the tractor or trailer, the leasing company, the loading company or the manufacturer of a defective product on the rig. If you or a loved one has been injured because of a semi-truck accident in Leesburg, Tavares, Clermont or Lake, Marion, Sumter, Orange give me a call at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form.
Causes of Florida Truck Accidents
Generally, there are three main causes of truck accidents that are not present with passenger vehicles. First, because trucks are big, heavy and long they have a more difficult time stopping, which leads to rear-end accidents. Second, truck drivers have a difficult time changing lanes on highways, crossing over center lines on rural roads and making turns in urban areas. The third main cause of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Most truckers are paid by the mile. The longer a driver is on the road the more miles he covers and the more money he earns. The federal government has performed a number of studies on driver fatigue and determined that the average truck driver gets about one-half of the sleep of the average person. In order to combat the problems with truck driver fatigue, the government wrote stringent hours of service requirements that places limits on the hours a trucker can drive. However, there are those truck drivers that cut corners and put people at risk because they're tired.
Handling Truck Accident Cases
A lot of attorneys handle truck accident cases the same way they handle any other motor vehicle accident case. It may be appropriate to handle a car, pick-up or SUV case as a routine automobile accident case but semi accident cases are different. One of the main differences are the stringent rules and regulations that govern the trucking industry. Your truck accident attorney has to be intimately familiar with these rules and regulations because the truck driver or trucking company may have violated one or more of the safety rules relating to weight of the freight, mechanical inspections or hours of service.
Because the stakes are potential higher in a Florida big rig accident, the Florida truck accident attorney has to investigate the cause of the crash immediately and work to preserve critical evidence. Critical evidence may include photos of the scene including photos of skid marks and other markings on the roadway, preserving the trucker's log books, maintenance schedule and the electronic data recorder (“Black Box”) that may contain vital information regarding the speed of the rig before the crash, braking and deceleration.
Guy S. DiMartino is available to provide answers to the difficult questions following a truck accident at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation box.
Florida Tractor-Trailer Accident Frequently Asked Questions
How do attorneys in Florida handle truck accidents versus car accident cases?
Generally, the rules for determining fault are the same for cars and trucks in, there are a number of special rules and regulations that apply to truckers and trucking companies. A lawyer handling a Florida tractor-trailer case has to be well versed in the FMCSR because sometimes the difference between being able to prove an injured person's case is based on the federal rules and regulations.
Can I sue the driver's trucking company for my injuries in a Florida tractor-trailer accident?
It depends on the nature of the relationship between the truck driver and the trucking company. If the trucker is an employee or agent of the trucking company, the company may be responsible for the damages under the legal theory of Respondeat Superior. This theory of liability is based solely on the relationship between the employer and employee. If the company owns the tractor or trailer, the company may be liable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. Finally, there may also be direct theories of negligence against the company if the trucking company failed to properly maintain the semi-truck, or if the company failed to properly screen or train the truck driver.
I am partially at fault for an accident that I had with a tractor-trailer in Florida; can I still make a claim against the trucker or trucking company for my injuries?
Yes. Florida is a pure comparative fault jurisdiction. Any recovery that you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
I was in an accident with a tractor-trailer. At the accident scene the driver was all apologetic and said he was sorry, now he is saying I was at fault. How does Florida law decide who is at fault for the crash?
Fault determination in a Florida tractor-trailer wreck is based on the facts of the crash and the physical evidence. This is one of the reasons that it is important to hire an experienced Florida truck accident attorney ASAP. It is important to obtain the necessary documentation, examine the scene of the accident and preserve the physical evidence in order to determine liability.
How much insurance must a truck driver carry in Florida?
There is a federal law that requires trucking companies to carry insurance based on the freight that they are carrying. The minimum liability insurance a company must carry is as follows:
- $750,000 for vehicles under 10,000 pounds carrying non-hazardous material
- $1 million for trucks hauling hazardous material and oil; and
- $5 million for trucks operating portable tanks with a capacity over 3,500 gallons
I was injured in a Florida accident when the semi-truck jack-knifed; does that mean the trucker is at fault for the accident?
Generally, yes. Most of the time a semi-truck will jack-knife because the trucker locks up his/her brakes. The trucking company's insurance lawyers will take the position that the truck did not jack-knife because of negligence but because the roadway was slippery because of unforeseen moisture or the trucker was acting heroically trying to avoid another crash. This is one of the main reasons that a person injured in a Florida tractor-trailer crash should hire an attorney ASAP because it is important to document the scene of the crash and obtain the physical evidence before it is destroyed.
If you have any additional questions about a Florida tractor-trailer crash, call Guy S. DiMartino at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation box on the right.