An experienced personal injury lawyer knows that there are many differences in a case involving an 18 wheeler as opposed to one involving two automobiles. While the causes may be the same (bad weather, distracted driving, speeding, etc.) truck accidents often cause more damage than a car accident and present special legal challenges for the person pursuing a personal injury claim.
What is a Commercial Motor Vehicle?
Commercial motor vehicles are among the largest vehicles travelling Florida’s busy roads and highways. In Florida, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as a vehicle:
- Which is not owned or operated by a governmental entity
- Which uses special fuel or motor fuel on the public highways
- Has a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more
- Has three or more axles regardless of weight, or is used in combination when the weight of such combination exceeds 26,001 pounds gross vehicle weight.
Tractor-trailers, 18 wheelers, cement mixers, dump trucks, tank trucks and even buses are commercial motor vehicles in the state of Florida.
Commercial Trucks Aren’t Cars
Size and weight are the biggest differences between a commercial motor vehicle like an 18 wheeler and a passenger vehicle. What might have been only a minor accident between two automobiles can turn into a tragedy when a big truck is involved.
The average passenger vehicle weighs in at about 3,000 pounds while a fully loaded tractor-trailer truck can weigh 80,000 pounds. There’s no real mystery as to who’s going to be the loser in a collision between the two different types of vehicles. Serious, even fatal, injuries can result. Because of this, truck drivers and truck owners are required to carry insurance with higher liability limits than conventional car insurance.
Commercial trucks can take longer to stop than passenger vehicles, accelerate more slowly, have more driver blind spots, need more space to maneuver, and require precise control when making a turn or backing up.
Types of Truck Accidents
Like automobile accidents, big truck accidents can include head-on collisions, rear-end collisions and side-swipe collisions. Commercial truck accidents can also include:
- Jack-knife: In this type of accident, the tractor stops, but the trailer doesn’t, skidding around until it forms a 90 degree angle with the tractor.
- Underride: An accident that occurs when a smaller vehicle becomes pinned beneath the truck.
- Mechanical failures (brake failure, tire blowout, etc.)
- Blind spots/no-zone: Truck changes lane while other vehicle is driving in blind spot.
- Squeeze play/wide turn accidents: Collisions that occur when the vehicle is making a turn.
- Improperly secured loads
- Hazardous materials spills
There can be Many Defendants in a Truck Accident
In most car accident cases, there is usually only one party – the driver – that is liable for damages. However, in truck accidents, there can be several parties that share responsibility for the accident. In addition to the driver, the driver’s employer, the truck’s owner, the repair shop, loading and unloading facilities and the manufacturer of a defective part may be liable for a percentage of the damages resulting from the accident, depending on the circumstances.
Rules and Regulations to Keep the Roads Safe
Truck drivers and owners are subject to many more rules and regulations than owners and operators of passengers vehicles.
In order to keep the roads safe, the trucking industry must follow strict rules and regulations that apply to the vehicles, their drivers, and the companies that own and operate them. Fines and loss of licenses can result from ignoring these regulations.
Truck drivers must have a certain amount of training in order to operate their vehicles safely. In Florida, drivers are required to have a special Commercial Driver’s License. To prevent fatigue, drivers are only allowed to drive a certain amount of hours each day.
The truck driver’s employers are responsible for seeing that the driver is in compliance with the regulations. This can range from additional training to drug and alcohol screenings. They are also responsible for vehicle safety and maintenance.
Under federal trucking regulations, drivers and their employers are required to maintain logs that record how many hours a driver has spent behind the wheel, what type of training they’ve received and provide information on vehicle maintenance and repair.
This information can prove invaluable when trying to prove liability in a trucking accident case.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Truck Accident?
If you were injured in a trucking accident that was not your fault, you have a right to seek compensation for the damages resulting from your injuries. Enlisting the services of a law firm like the Rivas Law Group, whose personal injury attorneys possess extensive experience handling trucking accident cases, will greatly improve your chances of receiving the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
Tania L. Rivas and the Rivas Law Group have successfully represented many clients in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Lutz and other central Florida communities. If you have been hurt in an accident that was caused by the negligence of another and are unable to work and facing major medical bills, please do not wait to contact us. Call us at (877) 299-5539 to schedule a free consultation visit with one of our personal injury lawyers. Our commercial truck accident cases are handled on a contingency basis. That means there are no up-front costs to you if we accept your case, and you won’t pay anything until we’ve won your case.