When seeking financial compensation after a commercial truck accident, you need to be able to establish a legal basis for liability. In most cases, this legal basis is “negligence.” Under Florida law, negligent parties are liable for the consequences of their mistakes, and victims of negligence can recover full compensation for their accident-related losses.
In the context of a commercial truck accident, most claims for financial compensation are based on truck driver negligence. Due to the size, weight and limited maneuverability of 18-wheelers and other large commercial trucks, even simple mistakes can have devastating consequences. As a result, truck drivers have a duty to drive safely and attentively at all times; and, when they do not, they and their employers can be held fully accountable.
Some of the most-common examples of truck driver negligence include:
- Speeding (this includes driving above the posted speed limit as well as driving too fast for the current road, weather or traffic conditions)
- Tailgating, weaving through traffic and other forms of aggressive driving
- Merging without looking, without checking all blind spots, or knowing that another driver will be forced to brake suddenly or attempt an evasive maneuver
- Driving while distracted (this includes texting behind the wheel, talking on the phone behind the wheel, navigating, eating and drinking, and all other types of driver distractions)
- Driving while fatigued or falling asleep while driving
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, sleep medications or other drugs
- Running red lights, running stop signs and failing to yield as required by law
- Making unsafe turns and lane changes
- Failing to perform all required truck inspections and failing to promptly address maintenance issues with their trucks
- Braking too harshly, turning too sharply, and exceeding their driving capabilities on the road
What Can Florida Truck Drivers Do to Avoid Causing Dangerous Collisions?
Due to the extreme risk for serious or fatal injuries in the event of an accident, there are several steps that truck drivers can (and should) take to avoid causing collisions with other vehicles. These include:
- Slowing down in bad weather or when faced with hazardous road conditions
- Maintaining adequate stopping distance between themselves and the vehicles in front of them
- Complying with the limitations on driving hours, getting plenty of rest, and taking breaks when necessary
- Knowing how to spot the initial symptoms of fatigue
- Observing all traffic laws, including speed limits
- Checking blind spots before merging or changing lanes, and avoiding sudden lane changes
- Inspecting lights, tires, cargo straps and other components before driving
Not all driving mistakes rise to the level of negligence, and not all actions that seem to be mistakes actually are. For example, while it may seem that a truck driver waited too long to brake, it could be the case that his or her brakes failed or another driver cut him or her off unexpectedly. In order to determine thespecific cause (or causes) of your injuries or your loved one’s death, it will be necessary to conduct a thorough investigation, and this should ideally be done as soon after the accident as possible.
What Evidence is Needed to Prove that a Truck Driver was Liable for an 18-Wheeler Accident?
When investigating a serious or fatal commercial truck accident, the goal is to collect enough evidence to determine who is liable and prove that party’s liability in settlement negotiations or in court. With regard to proving truck driver negligence specifically, there are various forms of evidence that may be available depending on the specific circumstances involved. Some examples of these forms of evidence include:
Forensic Evidence from the Crash Site
An on-scene investigation can provide several key pieces of forensic evidence. Damage to the road and guardrails, skid marks, evidence of traffic and road conditions, and various other types of evidence may be available, and it may be necessary to collect or document them quickly before they disappear.
The Damage to Each Vehicle
Your Florida truck accident lawyer will also want to have your vehicle, the truck and any other vehicles involved in the accident inspected before they get repairs. The location of the damage to each vehicle can help establish the cause of the accident, while the extent of the damage can help prove the severity of the collision.
The Truck Driver’s Logbook
Under federal regulations, commercial truck drivers are supposed to maintain detailed log books that they update on a daily basis. The driver’s logbook entries could reveal that he or she was negligent in various respects, and missing entries could potentially help establish liability as well.
The Truck’s GPS or Blackbox Data
Modern commercial trucks are equipped with GPS systems and on-board computers that track and store various types of data. When seeking financial compensation for a truck accident, you are entitled to have access to this data; and, if the data reveal that the truck driver was speeding, waited too long to brake or was otherwise negligent, your lawyer will be able to use the data to help prove your claim for compensation.
Phone, Employment or Other Records
Phone records, employment records and other records can also be used to establish driver negligence. For example, if the driver was texting in the moments leading up to the collision, his or her phone records may serve as direct evidence of liability.
Eye Witness Testimony
Oftentimes, commercial truck accidents will have several eye witnesses. If anyone saw what happened, he or she may be able to provide important testimony in support of your financial recovery.
Video Footage of the Accident
Finally, these days, it is becoming more and more common for vehicle collisions to be caught on camera. If your accident was recorded by a traffic camera, security camera or cell phone, the footage may show that truck driver negligence was the direct cause of your (or your loved one’s) collision.
Speak with the Qualified Florida 18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys at Searcy Denney
Are you entitled to significant financial compensation for truck driver negligence? To find out, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Searcy Denney. Call 800-780-8607 to speak with a member of our firm 24/7, or tell us how to reach you online and we will be in touch shortly.