Florida Large Truck Accidents

In 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 333,000 large trucks were involved in traffic accidents with 104,000 of those resulting in injury and 3,921 resulting in death. This was a 4% increase from the previous year.

Of those 104,000 injuries, 66,000 of the them occurred to the non-truck driving motorist. That’s a little over 63%. The reason for this is that the sheer size of the truck protects the driver from harm while that same aspect inflicts greater harm on the regular vehicle driver. [1]

Trucks are more dangerous.

A commercial truck accident in Florida can be much more serious and catastrophic than an accident between two regular, personal-use vehicles. A fully loaded commercial truck—such as a semi-truck or dump truck—can weigh at least 25 times more than a typical car. Due to this large weight difference, and the basic laws of physics, most accidents involving large trucks with other vehicles result in serious, sometimes fatal, injuries. In addition to the weight, the size difference of large trucks contributes to the higher injury rate as well.

Large commercial trucks, like semis or dump trucks, can also be hauling dangerous cargo. Anything from rocks to gasoline can potentially impart much more serious injuries on the parties involved than an otherwise empty truck or regular vehicle might.

Similarly, large trucks can take up to 3 times longer to stop than a regular-sized vehicle, making them more dangerous and more likely to be involved in an accident [2]. When they are involved in an accident, large trucks are 5 times more likely to inflict injury [3].

Duty of Care

When drivers operate a vehicle on a roadway, they have a duty of care to each other, meaning they have a duty to act in a reasonable manner towards other drivers. Those duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Watching out for each other on the road
  • Complying with all applicable traffic and safety laws
  • Using all reasonable means possible to avoid an accident

Because large trucks are so much more dangerous, the government is more serious about enforcing the concept of duty of care, holding them to federal and state regulations.

When a truck driver violates a state or federal regulation, and the violation results in injuries to another person, the courts frequently consider the violation as per se—or automatic proof of negligence.

Two of the most commonly violated regulations are: complying with CDL regulations and completing their log books.

When a driver operates a large truck, like a dump truck or a semi, they are required to possess a special license called a CDL—or Commercial Driver’s License. Receiving a CDL requires special classes, driving tests, drug tests, and physical requirements. When a driver does not have a CDL, which happens more than you might think, they have committed a serious offense that almost guarantees their negligence.

The second most violated regulation is failure to keep a complete and accurate log book. As a commercial driver of a large truck, the DOT requires drivers to log: the number of hours they drive each day, the amount of time they rest, the date they picked up their cargo, the weight of the truck before and after the cargo is onboard, the destination, and the date of delivery.

A driver can drive for a maximum of 11 hours and then they must get a mandatory 10 hours of rest. Drivers also cannot drive for more than 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period. This is to keep drivers well rested and alert while out on the roads, for their safety and for yours. With tight deadlines and pay-by-the-haul salary, drivers can be tempted to keep the wheels turning in order to make more money.

Duty of Care Breached

The next part of a successful personal injury case is showing that the driver breached that duty of care. This is not always easy, but it can be done. As with the examples above, showing that a driver does not have a CDL, or that they did not keep their log book up-to-date, show a breach. Also, a witness, the vehicle’s black box (yes, newer cars are starting to have black boxes under the seat), or other evidence can show this.

Proving Negligence and Liability in Florida

Like the above section, proving a driver’s negligence is not always easy. This is sometimes referred to as “but-for” causation. As in, “but for the driver texting on his cellphone while driving, my client would not have injured his neck.” Again, although this isn’t black and white, a good truck accident attorney can prove negligence.

Once negligence is proven, your attorney must figure out who is liable. Although it seems clear that the driver would be held responsible for his own actions, there are others that may be also. In a large trucking accident there may be multiple defendants, including but not limited to: the driver, the trucking company, contractors, employers, and insurance companies.

Perhaps the company knew the driver did not possess a CDL, or the contractor encouraged past-regulation driving times in order to meet goals. This makes them liable also.

Dolman Law Group

If you or a loved one has been injured by a large truck due to someone else’s negligence, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of Dolman Law Group. We have years of experience specifically handling truck accident cases and know exactly what to do. We offer a free consultation and case evaluation to help you get on the road to recovery. Call (727) 451-6900 today.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/truck-accident-attorneys/

References:

[1] https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811868
[2] https://www.udot.utah.gov/trucksmart/stopping-distances.php
[3] https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-analysis-brief

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