Truck accidents happen often with major interstates such as I-75, I-275 and I-4 all crossing through Tampa. Most of the time they are the most serious accident cases we see. In fact, much of the state’s commerce is brought in via commercial vehicles on the interstate. A commercial truck accident is likely to result in serious physical injury and property damage. For truck drivers and the companies that employ them, time is money. When those commercial drivers are hurrying or driving aggressively to meet a deadline, they put other motorists and pedestrians at risk. If a collision with a truck resulted in serious injury, personal injury attorneys, such as The Hancock Injury Attorneys can investigate to determine if driver and employer were negligent.
Because of their extreme weight and massive size, large truck accidents tend to cause more fatalities than any other type of vehicle accident. Approximately 12 percent of all accidents are caused by large trucks. These trucks are also referred to as semis, tractor-trailers, and transfer trucks. There are many contributing factors to large truck accidents. Driver fatigue, for example, has been a long-standing issue in the trucking industry. Criticism has been voiced against the lack of training regulations throughout the country, and trucking companies have been investigated for not complying with maintenance standards.
For occupants of a passenger vehicle, crashes involving commercial trucks are among the most dangerous. Much of this is due to the size differential between most trucks and passenger vehicles. Even large SUVs and pickups are no match for a loaded semi truck. Compare a Chevrolet Suburban with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 7,400 pounds to the 80,000 GVW of a tractor-trailer. At over 10 times the weight, in a crash involving a tractor-trailer and a Suburban, the Suburban doesn’t stand a chance.
Leading Causes of Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established by the U.S. Department of Transportation with the primary mission to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses across the country. The federal rules set out by the FMCSA are applicable to all employers, employees and commercial motor vehicles which transport property or passengers in interstate commerce. Florida statutes have incorporated these federal rules and even expanded the FMCSA rules to apply to intrastate commerce.
Central to the FMCSA rules is that all drivers of commercial motor vehicles shall have the knowledge and skills necessary to operate their vehicles safely. As reported in its Large Truck Crash Overview, the FMCSA found that 3,675 people were killed in large truck fatal crashes and another 80,000 people were injured in crashes, involving large trucks across the nation.
The top five large truck driver-related factors in fatal crashes were:
One of the leading causes of truck accidents is due to careless driving on behalf of the truck driver. This can include the driver eating or drinking while driving, playing with their radio, or doing anything else that takes their eyes away from the road.
Failing to Yield
Another cause of truck accidents is when semi-trucks fails to yield to passenger vehicles that are coming on or off highways. They may also ignore vehicles as they are changing lanes or moving through the intersection. Larger trucks need more space in order to maneuver, but drivers may fail to appreciate the distance required to drive safely with other vehicles.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of drivers who are held to outrageous schedules and required to meet demands that are only possible if they limit the amount of time they sleep. This often results in extreme drowsiness, which means the driver could accidentally fall asleep at the wheel or at least have delayed reaction times. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunken driving – and a leading cause of fatal truck accidents in the state, as well as throughout the rest of the country.
It is easy for a truck driver to become distracted while operating a large commercial vehicle. Sometimes the driver may be talking on a cell phone, adjusting their navigation, playing with the radio, or even reading and sending text messages. Any time a truck driver’s eyes or cognitive abilities are removed from the road, they pose a danger to the rest of the public.
Trucks are supposed to be well-maintained and safe though that doesn’t mean all commercial fleets follow such practices. There are numerous instances where a semi-truck will cause an accident due to malfunctioning brakes, poor windshield wipers, or other fatal maintenance errors that are easily prevented just by frequently checking the vehicle.
Who May Be Responsible for a Truck Accident?
Commercial truck accidents are often much more complex to litigate than an average automobile accident involving two private parties. With a truck collision, multiple parties could be responsible for the accident.
Respondeat Superior is the legal concept that one who hires another to perform some task is responsible for any injuries to third parties caused by the person or entity hired. In commercial truck accidents, ultimately, the trucking company that owns the truck and hires the driver has overall responsibility for crashes involving their vehicle and driver. The problem may be determining who “owns” the truck. Often, the truck may not even be owned by the company whose advertising is printed on the side of the truck. The truck and trailer may be leased, possibly by two different companies. The driver may be an employee of the leasing company, or he may be an independent contractor hired by the leasing company to drive the shipment. The tractor and/or trailer may be maintained by a third party maintenance firm, instead of the work being done by company mechanics. Depending on the product the truck is carrying, the company that loaded the truck may be responsible for part of the accident.
Federal, state, county or city governments could also be held responsible for aspects of the commercial vehicle accident due to their involvement in the design, construction, and maintenance of the highway where the crash occurred. This element can be further complicated by the fact that some governmental entities have sovereign immunity and cannot be sued, while others have limited or no immunity.
The crash could also be due to a design or manufacturing defect in the truck itself. This question can become very complex if the allegedly defective part or parts could also implicate one or more contractors or subcontractors.
National Truck Accident Statistics:
- In 76% of fatal crashes involving large trucks and 80% of injury crashes involving large trucks, the first harmful event (the first event during a crash that caused injury or property damage) was a collision with another motor vehicle.
- Passenger vehicles were involved in 91% of these fatal crashes and 94% of these injury crashes.
- For two-vehicle fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle: Of the 398 fatal head-on crashes, the large truck crossed the center line in 13% and the passenger vehicle crossed the center line in 87% of the crashes.
- Of the 318 fatal rear-end crashes, the large truck hit the passenger vehicle in the rear in 24% and the passenger vehicle hit the large truck in the rear in 76% of the crashes.
We Are Experts in Truck Accidents Involving:
- Tractor-trailers, flatbed semis, and other over-the-road trucks
- Construction vehicles and heavy equipment
- Delivery trucks and other commercial vehicles
Our truck accident lawyers are prepared to invest the considerable time and resources required to make you whole again. We advance the costs of hiring accident reconstruction specialists, automotive engineers and other experts necessary to win your case.
Remedies for Truck Accident Victims
After an accident, our lawyers will conduct an immediate investigation to determine if trucking companies and drivers did everything they were required by law to do. We will investigate the driver’s background and ensure that evidence such as the truck’s GPS system and driver logbook were preserved and filled out accurately. Even with safety measures in place, trucking accidents still occur. Depending on the circumstances surrounding a truck accident, remedies may be available for injured victims. If driver negligence is implicated, monetary damages can generally be recovered to pay for medical bills, loss of wages, pain, and suffering. In some circumstances, punitive damages may be awarded, if the negligence was egregious. If you were injured in a trucking accident, speak to a truck accident lawyer to learn more about your legal rights and options.
FAQs about Truck Accidents:
Who pays for medical bills after a truck accident?
Any person or entity that was at fault for causing the truck accident can be sued to recover damages. This may include the truck driver, their employer, the owner of the tractor, the owner of the trailer, the company identified/advertised on the trailer and/or the owner of the goods being shipped.
Do I need a lawyer after a truck accident?
After any collision resulting in a serious injury or a death in the State of Florida, you should speak to an experienced attorney who focuses in personal injury law. While an attorney is not needed in each and every case, a reputable law firm will provide you with a free consultation, information and advice which is in your best interest. Many truck accident victims will receive more compensation for their injuries with an experienced attorney.
How much money is a truck accident case worth?
Each and every case is very different. From our Tampa personal injury law firm’s over 20 years of experience, we can advise you on a general range of a settlement value of your case, based on many factors which include, among other things, the type and extent of your injuries and medical treatment, including surgeries, whether you sustained permanent injuries, fractures or significant scarring, your past medical history, past and future medical bills, lost wages and loss of earning capacity, insurance coverage and much more.
Why are expert witnesses particularly important in truck accident cases?
This is another way in which truck accidents are different than other motor vehicle cases. Expert witnesses with specific qualifications are needed due to, among other things, the many interstate and intrastate commerce regulations. For example, experts that can testify as to the medical impact of fatigue and sleep apnea on driving; safety experts that can testify as to such things as log books, pre and post trip inspections, and proper maintenance practices; and trucking industry experts that can testify as to such things as leased drivers, industry hiring and training practices and the supervision of professional drivers.
Contact a Tampa Truck Accident Lawyer.
If you have been involved in a large truck accident, you may be entitled to recover your lost wages, past and future medical expenses, and any loss from pain and suffering. At Hancock Injury Attorneys, we have the experience, skills, and knowledge to help you win your case. Contact us for a free confidential initial consultation at 813-915-1110. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.