Florida Trucking Accidents – Top Causes
Large trucks over 10,000 pounds account for just 4 percent of the traffic on U.S. highways. Yet they account for 11 percent of fatal road crashes, resulting in 4,500 deaths annually.
Understanding why these crashes occur is the first step in preventing them.
Truck accident lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm have successfully handled claims against large trucking companies and insurance carriers, and we are well-versed in the federal and state regulations central to your claim.
Recognizing the cause of the crash is key to determining liability. In handling complex truck accident cases, our legal team is going to analyze:
- The driving records and logs of the truck, including weigh-ins and hours of service
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Evidence of manufacturing defects
- Prior violations of federal and Florida state trucking laws
- Violations of state and federal driving regulations
- Prior accident history of the tractor-trailer
- Level of control the company had over its drivers
- Driver toxicology reports
- Driver’s prior criminal convictions
- Cell phone records
- In-cabin recorded footage of driver at time of accident
Each piece of evidence will bring us one step closer to understanding why the crash occurred, which is critical in determining who may be held liable. Responsibility to pay damages can fall on the shoulders of the driver, but also the driver’s employer, the truck owner, the truck leasing company, the company leasing the truck, the company leasing the trailer and/or the manufacturer of the truck, trailer or its components.
These are all elements we know to be relevant because we have handled truck accident cases and we recognize the burden of proof and the kinds of issues most likely to arise in the wake of a serious or fatal commercial vehicle collision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports in 2013, there were an estimated 350,000 large trucks involved in police-reported crashes. In the majority of those, 70 percent killed and 70 percent injured were occupants of other vehicles. Another 10 to 15 percent were non-occupants (i.e., bicyclists and pedestrians).
Because trucks weigh almost 30 times the weight of a passenger vehicle and can cause such devastation in an accident, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets requirements on everything from the amount of time a driver can be behind the wheel at a given stretch to the routine maintenance that must be done on the vehicle.
But many drivers and trucking companies flout these rules, and the results are too often tragic.
Here are some of the top causes of truck crashes, as identified by our personal injury lawyers:Driver Fatigue
Operating a motor vehicle while exhausted and sleep-deprived is as dangerous as driving impaired. The National Sleep Foundation reports fatigue and sleepiness can cause:
- Impaired reaction time, vision and judgment
- Problems with information processing
- Decreased performance and vigilance
- Increased aggressive behaviors
Truckers who don’t get enough sleep are extremely dangerous. Federal law limits truckers to 70-hour workweeks and 11-hour days, but not every driver or truck company strictly adheres to the rules. Because “lack of sleep” can’t be tested in one’s blood stream the way alcohol or drugs can, these cases require an experienced injury lawyer.Driver Distraction
Distracted driving kills an estimated 3,200 people each year and injures another 435,000. Federal law prohibits truck drivers from sending text messages or engaging in wireless communication. But that doesn’t stop many from doing it anyway.
Many of those who caused fatal crashes while driving distracted later faced severe criminal charges. Civil cases usually follow as well.Truck Equipment Failure
FMCSA requires regular inspection of vehicles to insure commercial trucks adhere to certain maintenance and safety standards.
Certain systems – such as brakes, fuel systems, lighting systems and tires – all have to be properly designed and well-maintained in order to limit risk of an accident. When they are not, there is the possibility for two kinds of negligence actions:
- Product Liability claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle or equipment
- Negligence claim against the truck owner or repair shop for failure to maintain
Whether it’s fog or heavy rain or brush fire conditions, truck drivers in Florida must operate their rigs accordingly. The heavy weight of these trucks and their loads means drivers must slow down and afford themselves more time to brake or make an emergency maneuver. Failure to accommodate local weather and road conditions cause countless crashes every year.Improper Loading
When a truck isn’t safely distributed on a trailer, it can lead to truck malfunction when the vehicle is moving. It can also result in objects or cargo flying off the back.
Federal requirements govern proper loading, and vehicles are supposed to be inspected by federal authorities or their agents to ensure compliance.Negligent Hiring
A number of trucking accident occur because drivers were not qualified for the job or had a history of poor driving, and yet were hired anyway.
When companies don’t conduct proper background checks on drivers or ensure they meet FMCSA regulations, they may be held accountable if an accident occurs.