According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), large commercial vehicles were involved in 480,000 accidents in 2015. Because of the large size of commercial trucks, accidents can be more devastating than a normal car accident. For this reason, truck drivers are held to a higher standard than most other drivers. Commercial trucks are significantly heavier than passenger vehicles and sometimes carry hazardous or flammable materials. Drivers who are injured as a result of an accident with a commercial vehicle may be entitled to reimbursement for their injuries.
Serious injuries can be sustained after accidents involving commercial trucks. A commercial truck, sometimes referred to as a “big-rig,” is a vehicle used in the course of business or for the transport of commercial goods. Examples of these types of trucks include tanker trucks, delivery vehicles, freight trucks, or eighteen-wheeler tractor trailers. Commercial trucks are generally much larger than pick-up trucks used by some businesses and require a commercial license to operate them. These types of trucks are more likely to cause injury due to the size disparity between them and passenger vehicles. A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, whereas an average passenger vehicle typically weighs around 3,000 pounds.
The most common factors in collisions involving commercial trucks are associated with the truck’s performance and a passenger car driver’s ignorance of the truck’s characteristics and performance capabilities. Commercial trucks have limits associated with acceleration, braking and visibility that passenger cars do not. Additionally, commercial trucks generally have larger blind spots which prevent them from responding to potential roadway hazards. It is dangerous to drive in what is known as a “No-Zone.” This refers to areas behind and beside a commercial truck, where the driver has limited or no visibility and includes the left and right rear quarters and directly behind the truck at a short distance. Certain federal regulations require that drivers of commercial trucks limit the time spent behind the wheel and keep a daily log of the number of hours they drive.
In some situations, individuals involved in collisions with commercial trucks may sue the truck driver’s trucking company for injuries. This depends on the employment relationship between the truck driver and the trucking company. If a relationship can be established, the company can be held liable for their driver’s negligence under a legal theory known as “respondeat superior.” However, establishing a company’s liability can be trickier where truck drivers are independent contractors for the trucking company. Most large companies now require that their trucks be equipped with satellite location devices and electronic data recorders.
A Florida personal injury lawsuit allows individuals who are injured as a result of a collision with a commercial truck to be compensated for their damages and losses. In addition to reimbursement for injuries, recovery in a personal injury lawsuit can include payment for lost income due to missed work, plus compensation for any loss of earning capacity resulting from the accident. Trucking cases can be very complicated. It is critical that you engage a competent firm immediately to safeguard vital evidence like the driver logs, worn tires, electronic data recording information, etc.
Wittmer|Linehan understands that while large trucks are vital to American industries, their enormous size poses danger on Florida roadways and highways. Our team of attorneys and staff have extensive experience handling a wide range of injury cases, including those involving commercial truck accidents. Our attorneys have spent countless hours researching Federal and Florida rules and regulations governing intrastate and interstate commercial trucking and are here to help you with your claim.