Many of the truck accidents that occur on Florida’s streets and highways are preventable. They result from careless and reckless decisions made by truckers and the trucking companies that employ them. In some cases, the crashes occur because of defective equipment or poor maintenance of roads by local, state or federal government agencies and their contractors.
If you recently suffered serious injuries in a trucking accident in Gainesville or elsewhere in Florida, the experienced attorneys of Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., will know how to investigate the crash, pinpoint why it happened and identify all parties who should be held responsible for your injuries and losses. Here, we discuss some of the most common causes of truck accidents in Florida. To discuss the specific facts of your case, call or reach us online today and receive a free consultation.
A standard five-axle semi-trailer can weigh around 80,000 pounds and run 74 feet long. A driver at the wheel of one of these big rigs needs time and distance to stop or avoid the cars or objects that it encounters on the road. However, if the driver is going above the speed limit or simply driving too fast for road, weather and traffic conditions, the driver won’t be able to avoid a collision. Additionally, a speeding driver can easily lose control of the tractor-trailer. It should come as no surprise that “speeding of any kind” is the leading driver-related factor in truck crashes, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
A fatigued truck driver may fall asleep at the wheel or lack the mental alertness to safely navigate the 18-wheeler through traffic. This is why the FMCSA established hours-of-service regulations. These rules restrict the number of hours that property-carrying and passenger-carrying drivers can spend on the road during certain periods of time. It also mandates that drivers take rest breaks. Drivers must document their hours in logbooks. If a truck driver fails to follow these rules and causes an accident, it can serve as proof of negligence. If the trucking company forced a driver to break the rules, it may serve as grounds for punitive damages.
If a trucker glances down at a phone to make a phone call, read or send a text message or surf the Internet, the driver may fail to see a vehicle in front, an intersection or a bicyclist or pedestrian crossing the road. To prevent these tragic crashes, FMCSA regulations prohibit truck drivers from texting while driving. Drivers also cannot reach for or hold mobile phones to make calls. They can only use a phone if it is within reach and involves pressing a single button and talking with a headset or in some other hands-free way.
The driver of any vehicle is dangerous if the driver operates a car while impaired by alcohol, illegal drugs or certain types of prescription medications. This is especially true if the driver is at the helm of a massive 18-wheeler that requires focus and precision to safely operate. This is why Florida, like most states, makes it illegal for a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver to operate a tractor-trailer with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or higher (compared to 0.08 for other drivers). The FMCSA also requires trucking companies to conduct pre-employment and random testing of its drivers for drug and alcohol use.
Too often, trucking companies put dangerous drivers on the road. Accidents can happen when companies hire drivers without conducting mandatory screening that includes drug testing as well as a check of the driver’s driving record (whether the driver has a history of accidents), work history and medical certification. Even if the driver holds a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the company should also put the driver through a road test. Once a company hires a driver, the company should make sure that the driver is safe and responsible and follows FMCSA regulations. A company that continues to employ a dangerous driver can and should be held accountable for any harm the driver causes.
Negligent Inspection and Maintenance
Every trucking company must routinely inspect, repair and otherwise maintain the commercial motor vehicles in its fleet. The company must also document the inspection and maintenance of its vehicles. Additionally, truckers have a duty to file a written post-trip vehicle inspection report. The failure of truckers and trucking companies to follow these rules can lead to dangerous trucks getting on the road, including those with faulty brakes, worn tires, burnt out lights and improper safety equipment.
Unfortunately, many truck accidents occur in Florida because a tractor-trailer is overloaded and excessively heavy in violation of FMCSA regulations and Florida Department of Transportation size and weight limits. Crashes can also happen when the cargo which a tractor-trailer carries is not properly secured. Cargo shifts can readily occur, or cargo may spill onto the road. This is especially dangerous if the 18-wheeler is carrying hazardous materials. Warehouses, freight brokers, trucking companies and/or individual truckers may be to blame for these accidents.
In many accidents, driver error does not serve as a contributing factor. Instead, the truck itself is flawed. It may have been defectively designed or manufactured, or it may not have been properly inspected or maintained. The FMCSA reports that faulty tires, wheels, brake systems, power trains lights, steering mechanisms, truck couplings, trailer hitches and safety chains are among the leading vehicle-related factors which cause truck crashes. In these cases, the manufacturers of defective trucks or truck parts or negligent mechanics may be at fault.
Although rare, accidents can also occur due to negligently maintained roads. For instance, a truck may run off the road (or a driver may overcorrect) due to a deteriorating shoulder or a sudden encounter with a pothole. Additionally, crashes can happen when highway construction zones are poorly set up. (Of course, in many cases, truckers fail to properly slow down when they encounter these work zones.)
Commercial trucks that transport heavy loads frequently or across long distances have more than just cargo riding on their tires. The safety of the truck’s operator and others on the road are also at stake. Tire failure can result in a catastrophic accident that could lead to severe or possibly fatal injuries for those involved.
Many of us start to feel nervous when we are driving in close proximity to large trucks ─ and for good reason. Due to their immense size and weight, commercial trucks can inflict catastrophic injuries and cause significant damage in accidents with smaller vehicles. Moreover, trucks’ dimensions make them difficult to maneuver, increasing the likelihood that they will cause specific types of accidents. This is the case with wide-turn truck accidents.
How Can a Lawyer Help You After a Florida Trucking Accident?
The experienced attorneys of Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., have handled commercial motor vehicle accident cases in Gainesville, Alachua County and throughout Florida. Our record includes numerous multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements which we have obtained on behalf of truck accident victims and their families.
Every case is unique. No attorney can guarantee any specific outcome in any specific case. However, we believe that our past success demonstrates how we know how to promptly and thoroughly investigate truck accidents, determine why they happened and identify all parties who should be held responsible.
When we take on a truck accident case, we immediately launch an investigation to preserve, gather and examine evidence such as:
- Crash scene photos (and, in some cases, video)
- Onboard sensor data (electronic data recorder, or “black box” data)
- GPS data
- Driver activity logs
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance records
- The truck driver’s cell phone records
- The trucker’s alcohol and drug test results
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Records about the truck’s cargo, including bills of lading.
Truck companies and their insurers move quickly to protect their interests after a crash. So, it is important to get a lawyer on your side as soon as possible after an accident in order to investigate your case and protect your own interests.
At Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., we also frequently consult with knowledge professionals, or “experts,” in fields such as truck engineering, transportation safety and accident reconstruction. They can help us to analyze the evidence and determine what happened in a crash. Additionally, we gather medical records, consult with doctors and meet with life-care planners to determine the nature and extent of a client’s injuries and how those injuries have affected the client’s ability to work and enjoy life as he or she did before the accident.
Using this information, we can demand a full and fair settlement from the parties who are responsible for your truck accident (and their insurance companies). We believe that hard work and preparation makes a difference. It gives us leverage in settlement negotiations. If a party challenges liability and/or damages, we will be ready to fight for our client in the courtroom.
We represent truck accident victims and their families on a contingency fee basis. So, you will pay no legal fees or costs unless we obtain compensation for you.
Get Help from Our Florida Trucking Accident Attorneys Today
In a sudden instant, a truck crash can change your life and the lives of those around you. It is important to work with a law firm that knows how to thoroughly investigate truck crashes and pursue all compensation that victims and their families are due.
If you were recently injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer in Gainesville or elsewhere in Florida, or if your loved one died in a crash, contact Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., without delay. We will review your case in a timely and free consultation.