Florida is a long trek for truck drivers. Many truck drivers travel long distances, often without stopping, in order to meet strict deadlines for the shipments and orders they carry and to try to do the best job for their employers or whomever hired them to deliver their load. Unfortunately, many of them are sleep deprived. Some may use drugs or other substances to stay awake. Regardless of what they take, truck drivers often swerve, lose control of the wheel, or fall asleep at the wheel, resulting in deadly accidents. We handle truck accidents all over the State of Florida. In fact, at the time of this writing, we just settled a truck accident case that occurred in the City of Lauderhill on Sunrise Boulevard three years ago for the sum of $300,000.00. But, many of these truck accident cases, with larger injuries or deaths, can result in millions of dollars in damages, and large jury verdicts.
According to the latest report by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), there were approximately 93,000 people injured nationwide by truck accidents. Sadly, 3,000 accidents resulted in fatalities. The DOT determined that fatigue, alcohol use, and speeding are the top three reasons why truck accidents occur. Further, there are other causes that result in truck accidents on the road by truck drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a study to examine the reasons why truck accidents occur. The results from the study demonstrate that trucks often lose control of the wheel because of weather conditions, going too fast for the cargo, a shift in the cargo, or a malfunction in the truck’s system. Other causes of truck accidents listed by DOT include:
- Brake problems
- Traffic flow interruption
- Prescription drug use
- Unfamiliarity with roadway
- Roadway problems
- Required to stop before crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Inadequate surveillance
- Inattention or distraction
Of course, the truck driver is not always the cause of the accident. Many times it is the other driver. In other situations, there are underlying issues with poor maintenance of trucks, which may cause the driver to lose control of the truck while driving. Under those circumstances, the truck company would be held accountable for the accident. To prevent truck accidents, drivers are required to follow federal regulations. Among the list of regulations, truck drivers must undergo drug and alcohol testing, have specific qualifications, and satisfy special training requirements. The FMCSA has the complete list of federal regulations for truck drivers. In an effort to reduce distracted driving, the FMCSA enacted a new rule for truck drivers. The use of mobile phones for texting or calling while driving a truck is strictly prohibited. If truck drivers are caught using their mobile devices, they can be fined up to $2750.
In addition to federal regulations, trucks are required to follow state regulations. Each state has specific regulations that trucks must comply with. The Florida Department of Transportation lists the main requirements for trucks as follows:
- They must have a valid and current tag registration
- Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles fuel decal if the vehicle combination exceeds 26,001 pounds gross vehicle weight or if the power unit has three or more axels, regardless of weight, and if operating interstate
- Correct size and weight
- All parts and equipment must be in full working condition
- They must display a valid Florida or USDOT number
To avoid being involved in a truck accident, individuals driving standard motor vehicles should be more alert and cautious when driving by trucks. The first recommendation is to not continue to drive next to a large truck. The size of trucks create more blind spots, therefore, people should keep a safe distance from trucks at all times. If an individual is unsure of the appropriate distance, a good method to use is to make sure you can see the truck’s side mirrors. If you can’t see the mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you.
Also, avoid aggressive driving such as cutting off a truck or speeding past a truck. Excessive speed may cause the truck driver to “miss” the vehicle when switching lanes or making turns. If a truck driver is swerving or demonstrating unsafe driving practices, report the truck to the authorities.
We have also handled a lawsuit involving a truck that was improperly loaded. When the truck driver went to unload, some metal joists that had shifted during the transport, fell on his arm, breaking his arm. We hired a truck expert who was a professor at the University of Miami, and we were successful in obtaining a settlement for the injured young man who we represented.
Because trucks are often owned by companies and driven by their employees, different legal issues may arise with respect to liability in truck accident cases. Our many years of experience handling these types of cases place us in a unique position to fully appreciate the complexities of these cases. For example, in State Farm Mutual Auto. Insurance Co. v. Austin Outdoor Inc., our lawyers ultimately successfully argued that based on the evidence about the truck drivers, their uniforms, and appearance, a jury and not the judge should be the one to determine whether the truck was stolen or operated with the company’s knowledge and consent. This is important in truck accident cases because under the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine” a truck owner in Florida is liable for damages caused by a negligent driver.
If you are the victim of a truck accident, call the Coral Springs truck accident lawyers now at 1-877-853-7466 for your free consultation. Also, visit our verdicts and settlements page to see examples of our results.