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Trucks pose a unique danger to others on the road — not only are trucks heavier, but they tend to carry most of their weight in the front, which has the effect of heightening the severity of impact. The damages are likely to be devastating at higher speeds, and in fact, even at lower speeds, it’s certainly possible for a collision to cause catastrophic losses.
Extensive data on truck accidents put together by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicates that there were 4,440 fatal crashes and 119,000 injury-causing crashes reported in 2016 alone, giving a sense of the suffering wrought by trucks in accident scenarios.
Here at Searcy Denney, we understand that those who have been injured in a truck accident may have sustained losses that have put them in an extremely vulnerable position. Some of our clients may struggle to return to work, reintegrate into their normal social and recreational activities, and — in some cases — simply survive.
We are tenacious advocates for our clients and will stop at nothing to ensure that they obtain the justice they deserve. Contact us for a free and confidential consultation with one of our skilled Florida truck accident lawyers.
The legal strategies and claims brought by those who have been injured in a truck accident may be different than one might expect from a typical car accident. Before we explore the various types of truck accidents that you’re likely to encounter on Florida roads, it’s important to understand certain fundamental liability concerns, such as employer liability.
Often, and this is particularly true in cases involving larger trucks and buses, the defendant who caused the accident at-issue is a professional truck driver employed in a commercial capacity. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to sue and recover from their employer.
Florida employer liability is perhaps better understood separated into two categories: vicarious liability and independent employer negligence.
In Florida, those who are injured due to the negligence of an employee — such as a truck driver — are entitled to bring an action for damages against the employer under the doctrine of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability lets you hold the employer directly responsible for the losses caused by their negligent employees, as long as you can show that the employee was acting within the course and scope of their employment at the time of the accident. On the other hand, if the truck driver was “off the clock” and performing personal errands at the time of the accident, then chances are that you will not be able to hold their employer liable for your injuries.
In Florida, employers can also be held separately liable for their own, independent fault contribution to your injuries. For example, if a trucking company fails to perform a background check on one of their drivers, and therefore fails to discover that the driver is unlicensed and has a history of reckless driving, then — if you are injured by their truck driver employee — you could hold the company liable for negligent hiring.
Additionally, trucking companies often overwork their employees and schedule them in such a way that they drive fatigued, exposing others on the road to a serious risk of injury. If you are injured by a trucker who was fatigued at the time of the accident, and further investigation reveals that they were overworked and scheduled in such a way as to negligently limit resting time, you could bring an action for damages against the trucking company. Having a lawyer will help you better assess and understand the circumstances surrounding your accident with a truck driver in Florida.
Truck accidents can be quite variable, depending on the circumstances. In one case, a negligent driver may fail to properly secure his cargo, thus leading to falling debris and serious injuries. In another case, a truck driver may be driving in a distracted manner or speeding, thus leading to a T-bone accident. The outcome of your case following a truck accident will depend on the specific circumstances of your accident.
Let’s explore some of the most common types of truck accidents in Florida. Consider the following.
Side impact collisions, sometimes referred to as “T-Bone” collisions, can lead to particularly severe injuries, or even death, particularly in the truck accident context, where the impact forces are so significant.
Impact forces must be absorbed and distributed across a given surface (or through dense or shock absorbent material) so as to minimize the damage caused. In a head-on collision, there is a substantial “crumple zone” that is designed to distribute the impact forces over a large area. In fact, auto manufacturers specifically design certain areas of the vehicle to buckle in a way that effectively absorbs the impact.
Side impact collisions are so dangerous because they avoid the built-in structures that allow cars and trucks to absorb significant impact forces. Whereas a driver would have several feet of material protecting them in a head-on collision, they have mere inches of protection (i.e., door and pylon) on either side during a T-Bone accident. Depending on the angle of the impact, the defendant’s truck might even make actual physical contact with the plaintiff.
When truck cargo is not properly secured, this can pose a serious risk of injury to others sharing the roadway — including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians — if the cargo load falls out of or off the truck and causes a collision.
It’s important to note that there are regulations concerning cargo loading to ensure that it is adequately secured and will not shift or come loose during truck operation. When any party (driver, cargo loaders, etc.) fails to adhere to the applicable regulations, or otherwise fails to exercise reasonable care in inspecting and handling cargo, then those who are injured by subsequent “lost loads” may have a right of action for damages under Florida law.
Rollover accidents are among the more common types of truck accidents, and they often lead to catastrophic injuries and fatalities. According to a report conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rollover accidents accounted for nearly 20 percent of all fatal traffic crashes across the United States.
Oftentimes, the defendant’s liability is clear in a rollover accident lawsuit. Rollovers are generally avoidable if the driver exercises reasonable care and does not attempt to exceed safe operating speeds when making turns. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report found that most rollover accidents occurred in areas where the speed limit was greater than 55 miles per hour. There are some cases, however, where the defendant-driver may not be wholly responsible for the accident. Sometimes, a rollover may occur due to improper loading by a third-party cargo loader (i.e., a retail store employee loading cargo on the top of an SUV), or even a mechanical failure.
To know who should be named as the defendant, a lawyer will want to evaluate the facts to determine who or what is responsible for the rollover accident (i.e., unsafe driving by the truck driver, improper loading by a third party, mechanical failure due to faulty production or inspection, or any other reason – or combination of reasons – that could contribute to causing a rollover). Consulting with a Florida truck accident lawyer is an important first step if you have been the victim of a truck rollover accident.
Fuel and tanker truck accidents can lead to severe injuries, given the flammable or otherwise chemically-dangerous nature of the substances being transported. As such, the damages in fuel truck accident lawsuits tend to be rather high. For example, if you are involved in a collision with a fuel truck that leads to a leak and a massive explosion, you could lose limbs or sustain burn injuries in the resulting chaos. Alternatively, you may be exposed to radioactive waste that can cause sickness, organ failure, or even death. Fuel and tanker truck injuries may not only lead to severe impairments and loss of function, but they may cause you to experience significant pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and public humiliation.
Trucks carrying liquid cargo may experience “sloshing,” which causes weight to shift rapidly. This increases the likelihood that a driver could lose control, particularly if they are fatigued at the time. Fuel and tanker truck drivers must be careful to operate their vehicles to ensure that they have full control at all times (given the road conditions), and employers must ensure that drivers are not overworked or scheduled in a way that incentivizes fatigued driving.
Garbage truck accidents are quite common, in part because the function and build of such vehicles make it especially likely to cause a collision. Garbage trucks are wide and bulky, with limited sight lines and enormous blind spots. Further, in order to perform their duties, garbage truck drivers and workers must constantly stop-and-start throughout their route to identify, sort, and pick-up trash. This method of driving can be somewhat grueling and requires a great deal of focus. As such, garbage truck drivers may accidentally collide with other vehicles due to how unpredictable their movements can be.
If you are injured by a garbage truck, and the truck is operated by a private company, then you very likely have a claim against the employer. If the truck is operated by a public waste management agency, however, then you may have a claim against the agency who owns and operates the garbage trucks and employs the driver.
Public entity litigation can be quite a challenge. There are unique notice and statute of limitations requirements, which makes it particularly important for you to consult with a qualified Florida truck accident lawyer as early as possible to ensure that your claims are brought in a timely manner. Failure to do so could lead to your claims being dismissed.
Tow trucks are large commercial vehicles that pose unique injury risks to others sharing the roadways. Negligent tow truck drivers can cause injury by:
For example, tow truck accidents often occur when a tow truck driver is on a tight schedule and fails to properly secure the tow vehicle. As the driver is in a rush, they might conduct a piecemeal or brief “eye test” inspection before starting their journey. Following that, the driver may travel at an excessive speed, which – in conjunction with the insecure tow vehicle connection – could cause the vehicle to detach entirely and collide with others on the roadway.
It’s also worth noting that, with commercial tow vehicle accidents, there’s often an employer-employee relationship that gives you the right to bring an action against the employer for damages.
If you have been injured in a truck accident due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct of another party, then Florida law may give you a right of action for damages against the defendant.
Here at Searcy Denney, our attorneys have decades of experience advocating on behalf of claimants in a range of different truck accident scenarios, and we are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of litigation. Our case results speak to the quality of the legal representation we provide, with billions in favorable verdicts and settlements secured over the past 40 years.
Call 1-800-780-8607 or submit a message online to request a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced Florida truck accident lawyers. We work on a contingency basis, which means it costs you nothing to retain us unless you successfully secure compensation for your losses, at which point we are paid only a portion of the total amount obtained.