Large trucks are the lifeblood of our economy in Florida and throughout the U.S., a vital cog in virtually every supply chain wheel in the country. But they can also be incredibly dangerous to other motorists, as well as vulnerable road users such as bicyclists and pedestrians. When crashes with big trucks do occur in South Florida, there are some key differences in the way those cases unfold compared to your typical car accident case. As longtime Broward truck accident lawyers, we’re committed to holding truckers and trucking companies accountable when negligence results in irreversible consequences to others on the road.
Florida Truck Accident Statistics
Every day, operators of large trucks traversing our nation’s roads are the cause of serious crashes resulting in extensive property damage, serious injury, and tragic deaths. The term “large trucks” refers to medium or heavy trucks (excluding buses and motor homes) with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000+ pounds. This can include both commercial and non-commercial vehicles.
According to the National Safety Council, there were 5,700 large trucks involved in large crashes in 2021 – which represented an 18 percent increase from 2020 and a nearly 50 percent increase over the last decade. Part of the explanation for this rise is the fact that there are more large trucks on the road. But even so, the involvement rate per 100 million large truck miles has also increased – up 7 percent from 2020 and 22 percent over the last 10 years.
Big trucks are involved in 9 percent of all fatal crashes.
Specifically in Broward County, there were a total of 4,111 commercial vehicle crashes in 2021. These resulted in 820 injuries and 12 deaths. That’s just a snapshot of a single Florida county, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Statewide, according to the NHTSA, large trucks were involved in more than 350 traffic deaths in a single recent year.
Differences in Broward Truck Accident vs. Car Accident Claims
If you’re injured in a Broward truck accident, you may have grounds for filing a civil claim for financial compensation – same as you would if you were involved in a car accident. You’ll still need to prove negligence (and strongly dispute any allegations of contributory negligence), as well as the extent of your injuries to establish your right to collect damages. But there are a number of ways in which truck crash cases differ from your typical car accident claim.
Broward truck accident injuries are almost assuredly going to be more serious than your typical car accident, by virtue of the simple fact that commercial trucks are so much larger/heavier than passenger cars (20-30x the size). Being involved in a crash with a passenger car is more likely than being involved in a truck accident – but you’re far more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries in the latter. That also means that the financial stakes are going to be higher – so you’re more likely to be met with a vigorous defense.
Commercial vehicles carry much more insurance than is required for passenger vehicle owners/drivers. While all Florida motorists must carry $10,000 in personal injury protection benefits (paid out to insured regardless of fault), most aren’t required to carry bodily injury liability coverage (though it’s a very good idea). Commercial trucks, meanwhile, generally need to carry $300,000 in bodily injury liability – minimum. Some may be required to carry more if they’re freight vehicles ($750,000), oil carriers ($1 million), or hazardous materials ($500,000).
It’s also possible that you’ll be dealing with more than one defendant/insurance company because truck accidents may have multiple defendants, including the driver, the truck owner (which may/may not be the employer of the driver), the supplier, and the carrier.
We also need to look carefully at the circumstances of the crash because that may go a long way toward establishing liability toward third parties. For example, did the trucking company employer/contractor schedule the driver for too many back-to-back shifts or unrealistic deadlines, leading to fatigue/distraction/speeding?
In order to collect damages in a Broward truck accident case, we need to prove fault. And in order to figure out who’s to blame, we need to know what caused the crash. Sometimes there are multiple factors. Large trucks must be driven with extreme care because their size makes them harder to facilitate fast maneuvers, such as turning or stopping quickly. For this reason, commercial vehicle drivers are held to higher standards with regard to how much caution they’re expected to use. Going slightly over the speed limit, failing to check mirrors before switching lanes, driving with very little sleep – all of this can be the basis for finding fault.
But we also now as Broward truck accident lawyers must aggressively defend against allegations of contributory negligence, particularly since Florida law changed to allow for cases to be completely barred from any recovery altogether if it’s found a plaintiff is 50 percent or more at-fault.
Bottom line: Truck accident cases are inherently going to be more work than typical crash claims. It’s important to hire an injury lawyer with extensive experience in handling cases with extensive experience in successfully handling such high-stakes, complicated claims.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Large Trucks, Traffic Safety Facts, National Safety Council
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Will a Pre-Existing Injury Kill Your Fort Lauderdale Injury Claim? June 10, 2023, Broward Truck Accident Lawyer Blog