Big trucks can mean big problems for Bradenton residents injured by negligent commercial drivers. There's a reason truck drivers need specialized training to operate commercial motor vehicles. Not only are large trucks difficult to drive safely, long hours on the road make truck drivers especially susceptible to fatigue. These factors combined with the inherent weight difference between large trucks and passenger vehicles can result in life-changing injuries after truck accident.
Bradenton residents injured in semi-truck accidents may be entitled to compensation from trucking companies and reckless drivers. Truck driver negligence, as well as safety violations, often lead to Bradenton truck accidents. The compassionate Florida truck accident lawyers at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA understand the impact that serious injuries have on Bradenton residents and their families. From helping injured claimants navigate the commercial insurance process to taking negligent trucking companies to court, no case is too complex for our experienced Florida 18-wheeler accident lawyers. Contact our Bradenton Truck Accident Lawyers for your free, no-obligation Bradenton truck accident evaluation today.
The Dangers Inherent in Operating Large Trucks
The average semi-truck weighs 40 tons (80,000 pounds) and has about 500 horsepower, while the average motor vehicle only weighs 2 tons and has about 150 horsepower. Getting rear-ended by a large truck traveling 20 miles per hour does more damage than getting rear-ended by a sedan going 20 miles per hour. The heavier the impacting motor vehicle, the greater the force it sends through small vehicle occupants during a car crash. This force is responsible for causing many of the most common motor vehicle accident injuries, such as whiplash, herniated discs, concussions, and fractures.
The weight and size of large trucks create additional dangers for Florida drivers, including:
- Major blind spots in the rear and on the sides of large trucks
- Greater tip-over potential while turning or exiting
- Navigational limitations due to overpasses and weight-bearing restrictions
- Needing more roadway and strong brakes to slow or stop
These limitations do not excuse truck drivers from following Florida motor vehicle laws, but Bradenton drivers need not provide special accommodations for large trucks. It's wise to consider the inherent risks of driving near a large truck in Florida, but this does not mean a driver contributed to a truck accident merely because he or she was driving in a trucker's blind spot.
The Most Serious Types of Truck Driving Accidents
The following are some of the most common and dangerous types of Bradenton large truck accidents:
- Rollovers - Semi-trucks and 18-wheelers are susceptible to rollover accidents when turning, due to increased centrifugal force. Rollover accidents typically occur when truck drivers take a turn too quickly or sharply. Large trucks can roll over onto other vehicles or cause major chain reaction crashes after blocking an exit or roadway.
- Jackknife - These truck accidents occur when the front of the truck, which provides the power, falls out of sync with the trailer. Wet roads and sudden stops often cause a large truck to “jackknife” into an L or V shape. The truck driver has little to no control over the trailer during a jackknife accident, and it could easily careen into other vehicles.
- Underride/undercarriage - If a truck stops short or jackknifes, it's easier for a sedan to get trapped directly under a semi-truck's trailer. This often crushes the front of the passenger vehicle, and causes paralysis or death.
- Overpass - Some large truck companies don't provide drivers with commercial GPS systems, and in other cases the drivers simply use their phones. This often puts trucks on roads where they're not permitted, due to low underpasses. Trucks may find the tops of their trailers sheared off from a low tunnel, which can easily injure other drivers.
- Merging/blind spot - Large trucks have major blind spots directly behind their trailers and on the right and left center of the trailer. Trucks trying to merge or change lanes on highways may run directly into smaller vehicles. Blind spots often cause major chain-reaction crashes and serious injuries on Florida highways.
- Break failures/tire blowouts - The heavy cargo that 18-wheel semi-trucks carry strains even commercial-grade tires. Failure to check and replace tires or brakes as required often results in truck accidents causing serious injuries to Bradenton drivers.
These types of accidents rarely occur between passenger motor vehicles, which is why it's important to contact a personal injury lawyer with experience handling large truck accidents and their liability determinations.
Special Federal Regulations Governing Trucking Safety
Commercial motor vehicles, including trucks, are subject to federal maintenance and operation regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes these guidelines in response to identified safety issues in the trucking industry. Truck drivers and owners are responsible for complying with these guidelines, and FMCSA violations are often linked to Bradenton large truck accidents.
An experienced Bradenton truck accident lawyer may request evidence of compliance with the following regulations:
- Periodic drug and alcohol testing - A truck driver must undergo drug and alcohol testing before receiving his or her commercial driver's license (CDL) or after a truck accident, as well as periodically throughout the year.
- Hours-of-service limitations - Drivers are not permitted to drive more than 11 hours during a 14-hour window, and must take periodic rest and sleep breaks while on the road. They must also stay off duty for at least 10 hours before the clock resets. Further, truck drivers have weekly limits in the number of hours they can drive. CDL holders must maintain a logbook indicating their compliance with these regulations throughout a trucking trip.
- Truck maintenance and tire checks - Due to the prevalence of truck tire blowouts and the strain that heavy loads place on machinery, trucks must undergo periodic maintenance and safety checks. This includes checking tire treads and replacing tires as necessary.
If a trucking company violated federal safety laws and doing so contributed to a Bradenton truck accident, injured victims may be able to use these violations to prove negligence and recover compensation in Bradenton. Florida personal injury lawyers may demand drug testing records, hours of service logbooks, and truck maintenance records after a serious truck accident.
Top 9 Reasons for Large Truck Crashes in Bradenton
The FMCSA reports that nearly 90 percent of large truck crashes are caused by driver negligence or illness. However, brake failure was the leading cause of truck accidents in the United States. The following are the top ten reasons for truck accidents:
- Brake failures or inefficiencies
- Heavy traffic and chain reaction accidents
- Driver inattention or errors due to prescription drug use
- Inattention to the roadway due to unfamiliarity or GPS mistakes
- Roadway hazards or poor conditions
- Stopping short or failing to stop in time
- Driver inattention
- Truck driver fatigue and illness
Bradenton truck accidents often have multiple causes. Many truck drivers report feeling pressured by employers to work long hours or speed to the next destination, even if it isn't safe to do so. While this doesn't excuse truck driver negligence, a trucking company may have to pay extra damages to an injured party for pressuring truck drivers to violate federal regulations and traffic laws.
Bradenton Semi-Truck Accidents Cause Serious Injuries
Truck accidents often cause life-altering injuries and death in Florida. Undercarriage accidents involving passenger vehicles may result in paralysis or death because the front-seat occupants have their lower bodies trapped. Falling trailers may cause passenger vehicles to overturn, and large trucks can roll over and crush a smaller vehicle while turning. This is why commercial motor vehicles are heavily regulated, drivers are required to have a CDL, and trucks must carry close to $1,000,000 in liability insurance.
Serious injuries, such as paralysis and traumatic brain injuries, require lifetime care. Many Bradenton residents injured in truck accidents can't return to work or engage in basic activities such as dressing, bathing, cooking, and cleaning. They may require household help and medical aides, and some patients need home modifications and extensive physical therapy. Florida no-fault insurance policies are often insufficient to cover the costs of injuries caused by large truck crashes. Insurance, health, and disability benefits may quickly run out, leaving Bradenton residents struggling to rebuild their lives after a truck accident.
Commercial insurance carriers may offer injured claimants a tempting five or six-figure settlement after a serious truck accident. However, it's essential to speak with a qualified Bradenton personal injury lawyer first to ensure this settlement covers anticipated future needs and losses. Medical and economic experts can often help injured claimants calculate their losses and anticipated needs after a Bradenton car or truck accident.
Parties Potentially Liable for Injuries Suffered in Florida Truck Accidents
Unlike most car accidents, truck drivers are typically working when an accident occurs. Large trucks are often owned by professional trucking companies or major corporations, and the driver, truck owner, and driver's employer are all potentially liable after a large truck accident. The cause of the accident may dictate which party is primarily responsible for compensating victims for their injuries. Most of the time, claims are paid by the commercial truck insurance policy, but this may not be enough to compensate Florida claimants for life-altering damages.
Bradenton residents injured in large truck accidents may be able to hold the following parties liable:
- The truck driver, especially if he or she engaged in reckless behavior, such as driving while intoxicated or forging hourly logs
- The owner of the truck
- The truck driver's employer, under a legal theory called vicarious liability
- Another driver who caused or contributed to the accident
A thorough investigation into the cause of a Bradenton truck crash may reveal serious FMCSA violations. Sometimes these violations are part of a truck owner's scheme to cut corners and save money on truck maintenance. Truck drivers may also forge their hourly logbooks or testify to being under pressure to make quick deliveries in violation of safety laws.
Trucking is a difficult industry, and some employers may even hire drivers without thoroughly investigating their driving records or history of drug and alcohol use. This may result in a claim for negligent employment in addition to a claim for negligent driving. Intentional schemes undertaken to violate federal regulations may result in further damages being awarded to an injured plaintiff.
Damages Available After a Large Truck Accident
A negligent truck driver, employer, and/or truck owner may be liable for both a victim's direct economic losses, like unpaid medical bills, and incalculable losses, such as pain and suffering.
Claimants injured by truck driver recklessness in Bradenton may be permitted to obtain compensation for the following:
- Lost wages, bonuses, sales commission, pensions, and benefits
- Inability to continue or advance in a job or career
- Durable medical equipment, such as a wheelchair or special bed
- Home modifications to accommodate the victim's injuries, like a ramp
- Handicap-accessible transportation or vehicles
- Home health aides
- Paid cleaning, cooking, and shopping assistance
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses for doctors, hospitals, rehabilitation, and prescriptions
- Home nursing care or long-term care facility costs
- Pain and discomfort
- Psychological trauma and mental anguish
- Inability to enjoy previous hobbies and activities
Most damages are recovered from large commercial insurance policies, but this may not be enough for someone permanently disabled after a large truck crash. While truck drivers are technically liable for injuries caused by negligent driving, they seldom have the personal resources to fully compensate victims after a large truck accident. In such cases, claimants may have to recover needed compensation from a negligent trucking company or the truck owner.
Bradenton Truck Accident FAQ: We Have Answers
What's considered a truck in Florida?
When Bradenton residents are injured in a truck accident, it generally means a large commercial vehicle collided with a passenger car. Special insurance laws and federal regulations apply to commercial truck accidents, so it's important to understand what qualifies as a truck in Bradenton.
Busses, construction vehicles, and HAZMAT transports are all commercial motor vehicles, and the following types of commercial vehicles are specifically considered trucks:
- Refrigerator trucks
- Cement-mixing trucks
- Box trucks
- Flatbed trucks
Commercial trucks must carry increased personal injury liability insurance to compensate Bradenton drivers negligently injured in a Florida large truck accident.
Do I still have to use my no-fault insurance if I was involved in a truck accident?
Yes. Despite large trucks having to carry special insurance, injured occupants of Florida registered vehicles must generally still comply with Florida no-fault laws. Truck accidents often cause serious injuries, but no-fault is still primary after a Bradenton truck accident. This personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is designed to cover initial emergency room and medical expenses, as well as a portion of your lost wages.
Legal complaints against negligent truck drivers for personal injuries are usually only permitted if at least one of the following is true:
- The truck accident resulted in the death of a loved one.
- The accident caused a significant loss of an important part of your body or bodily system.
- The injury is serious and permanent.
- The injuries resulted in significant and permanent scarring and/or disfigurement.
Truck accidents often cause disabling injuries in Bradenton, and claimants may be permitted to sue a truck driver, truck owner, or trucking company for personal injury compensation.
Are certain types of accidents unique to large truck crashes?
Trucks can cause significant damage in common motor vehicle accidents, such as T-bone collisions or rear-end crashes. However, it is a tractor-trailer's weight and design that often contributes to the following potentially fatal Bradenton truck accidents:
- Brake failures - This is the leading cause of large truck accidents in the United States. Most trucks weigh close to 80,000 pounds, putting a heavy strain on brakes and requiring a truck driver to keep a greater distance between his or her truck and other vehicles.
- Tire blowouts - A tire blowout can send a truck right into another vehicle. Federal regulations require numerous tire checks due to the wear and tear on large truck tires.
- Rollovers - Large trucks have a higher center of gravity that increases the chance of rollover and tipping accidents during turns.
- Jackknife accidents - These often occur when the roads are slick and the tractor falls out of sync with the trailer. The trailer and truck may fold into an L or V shape, hitting other vehicles on the road as the driver attempts to stop the truck.
- Underride collisions - Undercarriage accidents are often fatal. They occur when a smaller car is trapped under a careening trailer, which often crushes the front of the car.
Most large truck crashes are serious, which is why commercial motor vehicles must carry increased liability insurance policies in Florida.
Do I have to call the police if I was involved in a truck accident?
Yes. Even if there were no injuries or vehicle damage, Florida law requires drivers to call the police and/or file a police report if they were involved in a Bradenton commercial motor vehicle accident.
What are the most common causes of Bradenton large truck accidents?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the United States trucking industry. One of its functions is to track the primary causes of most large truck accidents to better address vehicle safety.
The FMCSA reports that the following are the most common reasons for large truck accidents:
- Brake and stoppage failures
- Traffic disruptions
- Legal drug use, including prescription and over-the-counter medication
- Speeding or traveling too quickly for turns and in inclement weather conditions
- Getting lost, resulting in a distracted driver or inaccessible roadways
- Physical roadway hazards and inclement weather
- Driver distraction
- Trucker sleepiness and/or physical illness
Most truck accidents are caused by truck driver errors, such as speeding, distraction, prescription drug use, and fatigue. Large trucks are challenging to drive, and truckers often work long hours. Unfortunately, a tired truck driver's loss of focus can result in serious or fatal injuries. Experienced truck accident lawyers and investigators will often look for evidence of these common crash factors to prove truck driver negligence during personal injury litigation.
What injuries do Bradenton truck accidents commonly cause?
Braking problems often result in rear-end collisions. Though this common type of motor vehicle accident can cause whiplash, knee injuries, and muscle strain, it seldom results in life-altering injuries or death. Getting rear-ended by a large truck is different, and passengers may be surprised at the extent of their injuries after a minor large truck crash. More serious large truck crashes, such as jackknifing accidents, may even be fatal.
Don't feel surprised if you or a loved one suffers from one or more of the following serious medical conditions after being involved in a commercial truck accident:
Concussion - This is a traumatic brain injury that takes place when an outside force, such as a collision, causes the brain to hit the skull. The greater the force, the worse the concussion. Serious concussions may result in memory loss, speech impediments, and personality changes.
Diffuse axonal injury - Another type of brain injury caused by excessive force, this is a tearing of the brainstem and nerve fibers. This type of injury often results in a coma, permanent disability, or death. It's more common in high-speed large truck crashes.
Herniated discs - Spinal cord damage and disc herniations are common after a truck accident, especially in older individuals. Victims may require multiple surgeries after this type of back and neck injury.
Paralysis, amputations, and/or leg fractures - Undercarriage accidents can crush the front of a small vehicle, pinning the front-seat passengers. The sustained injuries may leave a loss of leg function.
Seatbelt and airbag injuries - These devices save lives, but they can cause shoulder damage and facial fractures after high-impact crashes.
Claimants with minor injuries such as whiplash, headaches, and muscle strain may typically use their no-fault benefits for basic treatment. Bradenton claimants with lasting or permanent injuries should speak with a Florida personal injury attorney about their options to recover medical compensation and lost wages.
Am I partially responsible for my injuries if I was driving near a large truck?
Florida subscribes to a system called comparative or contributory negligence in motor vehicle accident cases. A claimant's overall financial recovery, if any, may be reduced in accordance with his or her assigned liability for the accident.
Many commercial vehicles have “keep back” signs, and claimants may believe that failing to do so makes them partially liable for a truck accident. This isn't necessarily true. While it's wise to take certain precautions when sharing the road with large trucks, Bradenton drivers are not responsible for compensating for these deficiencies. Florida drivers generally must drive in accordance with Florida traffic laws and take evasive action to prevent an accident if it's safe to do so. The law cannot hold you responsible for accidents caused solely by a truck driver or owner's negligence.
Can I sue the trucking company if a large truck injured me in Bradenton?
Most of the time, you can sue a truck owner and/or trucking company to recover for serious injuries after a Bradenton truck accident. Truck drivers are typically employees of a trucking company, and do not own the truck. In such cases, an employer is liable for the negligent actions of an employee while the employee is working. This is true in most Florida truck accident cases.
Experienced truck accident lawyers often make three major claims against trucking companies and/or owners.
- The trucking company may be held liable for the direct negligent actions of a truck driver. This is called vicarious liability or respondeat superior, which is grounded in the employee's, not company's, negligence.
- The trucking company may be directly liable for negligently hiring or entrusting a truck to the driver. This often includes cases where the driver had a suspended commercial driver's license (CDL), alcohol addiction, or multiple previous accidents.
- The trucking company may be liable for failing to maintain and inspect a truck if the accident was partially caused by equipment failure.
The facts of each specific accident will dictate the claims, if any, that Bradenton residents have after a truck hits them.
Do truck drivers need special training to operate a large truck in Bradenton?
Yes. Not only do truck drivers need to have a CDL, they must also undergo stringent drug and alcohol testing throughout the year. Different trucks require different types of CDLs, and truck drivers must be certified to handle vehicles by weight. A commercial vehicle driver who doesn't have the proper certifications to handle the vehicle may be liable to injured claimants civilly and subject to criminal charges in Florida.
Do commercial vehicle regulations apply to truck drivers and owners?
Yes. Most large trucks are subject to stringent federal regulations, including those that cover driver health, work hours, and vehicle maintenance. These provisions were passed specifically in response to large truck accidents, and to help protect other drivers.
Some of the most important federal trucking regulations include:
- Hours of service limitations - Truck drivers are required to rest and keep a record of their hours. They may drive up to 11 hours per day within a 14-hour window. They must rest for at least 10 hours before driving again, and they can only drive a certain number of hours each week. These regulations are designed to reduce driver illness and fatigue.
- Drug and alcohol testing - Trucking companies must randomly test drivers for drug and alcohol abuse throughout the year.
- Mechanical inspections - Large trucks must undergo periodic maintenance checks and repairs, especially of their brake systems and tires.
- Tire checks - Most truck drivers are responsible for periodically checking tire treads and pressure during long trips to prevent tire blowout.
Truck owners, drivers, and companies have a lot of responsibilities, and ensuring road safety can take a lot of time out of a driver's schedule. Some truck drivers report feeling pressured to speed and work over their hourly limits to help improve the company's bottom line. They may forget or fail to keep hourly logs, or they may fear employer retaliation for sidelining an unsafe vehicle. If a violation of these regulations contributed to a truck accident, injured claimants may be able to use this as evidence of liability in Florida courts.
Do trucks have to carry special insurance in Florida?
Yes. Commercial motor vehicles such as large trucks must carry larger liability insurance policies than those required for passenger vehicles. The heavier the truck, the more insurance it has to carry.
Florida law requires qualifying trucks to carry the following minimum injury and property liability insurance (though most trucks maintain larger policies):
- $50,000 if the truck is less than 35,000 pounds
- $100,000 if the truck is between 35,000 and 44,000 pounds
- $300,0000 if the truck is over 44,000 pounds
Additional insurance is required if the truck is carrying hazardous chemicals or materials. Bradenton truck accidents often cause permanent injuries that require life-long care and career changes. Serious injuries can cause millions of dollars in direct damages over the course of a victim's work life, and these claimants may have to recover damages directly from a liable truck owner and trucking company.
What compensation can I recover if I was injured in a Bradenton semi-truck accident?
Motor vehicle occupants and pedestrians injured in a truck crash may be entitled to claim compensation for the following direct and indirect damages:
Job loss, including lost wages, retirement plans, and fringe benefits
Those seriously injured in a Bradenton large truck accident should consult with an expert occupational therapist, medical professional, or economist to calculate anticipated future losses. Personal injury attorneys may be able to work with the truck owner's insurer and the trucking company to negotiate a reasonable settlement of the claims without the need for time-consuming litigation.
Speak With an Experienced Bradenton Commercial Truck Accident Attorney Today
Recovering compensation after being injured by a commercial motor vehicle is more complex than recovering for traditional car crashes. Choosing a personal injury attorney with experience litigating large truck accidents is vital to recovering needed compensation for life-altering injuries suffered in Bradenton truck accidents. From helping injured people navigate the commercial insurance process to investigating truck owners for FMCSA violations, call the experienced Bradenton truck accident lawyers at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free consultation.
With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can write to us using our online contact page.
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 613-5747
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