The commercial trucking industry is critical to America’s economy. It is estimated that, on a daily basis, there are in excess of five million semi-trucks traveling across the nation to deliver products. Florida’s agricultural industry depends heavily on these eighteen wheelers. The personal injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman understand the impact that an 80,000-pound truck has when it collides with a 4,000-pound vehicle. Our attorneys have litigation skills that produce extraordinary results.
A case in point. Following a collision with a semi-truck, a victim sustained a rotator cuff tear and a mild traumatic brain injury. Rather than accepting an award of $265,000.00 secured by his previous law office, he contacted us. Through an in-depth investigation, we discovered evidence that the truck had not been properly maintained. We filed suit, and our client was awarded $1,750,000.00.
While it’s not possible to guarantee a successful outcome in every case, our experience representing victims of truck accidents means representation that is passionate, dedicated, and capable of getting you justice.
Where does the liability fall in a truck accident? The answer is not always obvious. When addressing the issue of liability, several factors come into play. A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) stated that the drivers of trucks involved in an accident are ten times more likely to cause an accident than weather, vehicle performance, or road conditions. While this is often the case, the following can also be held liable:
- Truck driver’s employer or owner of the truck
- The company leasing the truck
- Manufacturer of the truck, trailer or components
We have learned from experience that trucking companies are businesses just like any other. Their main goal is profitability, often at the expense of safety. In our investigation process, we often find that background checks never happened, and drivers with a record of traffic violations and accidents are on the payroll. It is not uncommon to find that repairs and preventative maintenance take a back seat in the name of cost savings.
A Defect or Improper Maintenance?
What may initially seem to be an accident caused by defective equipment may actually be the end result of improper maintenance. An investigation is critical, because there is a significant difference between taking on a manufacturer in a defective product case and taking on a trucking company that negligently failed to maintain its equipment. We will make certain that we are taking the right action to maximize compensation for you.
What causes a semi-truck accident? The most common factors include:
Speed. Truck drivers operate under constant pressure to deliver their goods as quickly as possible. Excessive speeding places every vehicle on our roadways in danger, and results in some of Florida’s most serious accidents. Almost 25 percent of truck accidents are caused by drivers simply going too fast (according to the FMCSA). A truck can not stop as quickly as a passenger vehicle, and are more likely to lose control, resulting in the inability to stop at a traffic signal, jackknifing, veering into oncoming traffic, or hydroplaning.
Medications. Truck driving is a federally regulated profession. By law, there are drugs that preclude a person from obtaining a license to operate a commercial vehicle, and non-negotiable restrictions for the use of medications in general. Drivers have a responsibility to be properly trained, safe, and responsible. A driver found to be under the influence of any substance that impairs focus, dexterity, or cognition may be held liable in the event of an accident.
Overweight loads. Drivers are responsible for following regulations concerning the weight and balance of the cargo they are carrying. A tight deadline is not an excuse for failure to maintain safety at all times. A truck that is overloaded and out of balance may result in increased downhill speed, difficulty in steering, and an inability to stop in time to avoid impact.
Jackknife Accidents. Jackknife accidents are, undoubtedly, among the most deadly collisions on our roadways. When a driver loses control of the trailer, causing it to spin and twist, all vehicles in the vicinity are in danger of colliding with the truck. Especially common during periods of inclement weather, jackknifing can be the result of:
- Sudden braking
- Driver negligence
- Poor truck maintenance
Driver fatigue. The law is clear. There is a finite number of hours that a trucker may drive in a day, and a minimum amount of time that must be spent off-road in between. Up to date logbooks are mandatory, and can be entered into evidence in a civil suit. Certain pieces of evidence, like gas and food receipts, GPS data, and toll-road receipts may also be used to document the length of time a driver spends on the road.
“Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.” Without a doubt, this is a frightening statistic.
Although it is not against the law to be using a handheld device while driving, being distracted to the point of causing accident or injury does, in fact, make you culpable. Other types of distraction include:
- Drinking or eating
- Personal grooming
- Reading a map
- Using a navigation system
- Watching videos
Equipment failures. When mechanical issues such as brake failure, tire tread separations, faulty steering, problems with trailer hitches, or broken hydraulic hoses are left unattended, all drivers on the road are in peril. Trucking companies are legally required to properly inspect their fleet.
Aggressive driving. When aggressive driving is deemed to qualify as “‘road rage,’ the final determination may be considered assault. This is criminal behavior. Intentional aggressive driving includes:
- Following too closely
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Deliberately blocking attempts to pass
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals
Call Sibley Dolman if a Truck Injured You
If you were in a Florida trucking accident, call (561) 220-4963 to speak with a member of our Boca Raton legal team or write to us online. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Trucking companies often carry high-limit insurance policies to take care of catastrophic injuries. They understand exactly how much an accident can cost them. They will begin immediately collecting evidence to minimize your claim. In fact, the trucking company’s insurance investigators will sometimes show up at the accident scene as quickly as emergency personnel.
While you concentrate on your recovery, allow us to concentrate on fighting for the justice you deserve.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
2101 NW Corporate Boulevard, Suite 410
Boca Raton, Florida 33431
What Our Clients Have to Say:
“Chad Robinson always responded immediately whenever I had questions or concerns. He worked hard to make sure I received what I deserved.”
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