Who is Liable for an Accident with a Commercial Truck in Florida
Commercial trucks are often responsible for serious car accidents. The size difference between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles can cause serious property damage and personal injury to the driver of a car or SUV during an accident. Commercial trucks are often responsible for these kinds of crashes, but the concept of who is “liable” and actually pays for damages can be complex. Miami truck accident lawyer Prosper Shaked discusses who is at fault, who pays for damages, and how to hold these parties responsible for a truck accident. For a free consultation on your truck crash case, call The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked today.
Who is At-Fault for a Truck Accident in FL?
Although trucks are enormous and can cause serious damage to another vehicle if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident, trucks are not automatically at-fault for accidents they are involved in. Instead, courts and insurance companies look at the totality of the circumstances to decide who is at fault. If a truck driver was asleep behind the wheel or driving under the influence, they may clearly be at fault. But if the driver of a car did something dangerous like run a red light, they could be liable instead.
Whenever a truck is involved in a serious car crash, there are common problems that could mean the truck drivers is at fault for the accident. First, truck drivers may commit serious errors because of exhaustion or intoxication. Many major truck accidents are caused by things like tired driving or drug or alcohol use behind the wheel. Other accidents are caused by a truck driver’s simple failure to check their large blind spots or properly use their mirrors to keep proper lookout for other cars. Lastly, driver inexperience or improper training could be a driver-based cause of the crash.
Equipment failure is another common reason a truck driver could be at fault for a crash. Truck drivers are personally responsible for checking their vehicles and ensuring that their equipment is functioning properly. Faulty tires, misloaded cargo, overloaded trucks, and other equipment issues could cause a truck to fishtail, jackknife, or suffer a tire blowout. Any of these errors would make the truck driver at-fault for the crash.
Lastly, traffic laws and federal trucking regulations can blame a truck for a serious accident. Truck drivers must follow speed limits and other general traffic laws, like rules for red lights, stop signs, merging, and changing lanes. Trucks have additional rules handed down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that govern truck driver hours, equipment standards, weight limits, driver health, and other trucking issues. Violating any of these laws could mean the truck is at-fault for an accident they caused.
Who Pays for Truck Accident Cases?
In many cases, the truck driver is the obvious party to hold responsible. If the driver personally violated a trucking regulation, broke a traffic law, or drove dangerously, they can be held personally responsible for the accident. However, truck drivers are often regular people that may not have the insurance or funds to pay for injuries after a serious accident. Because of this, many truck accident cases are targeted at the trucking company, instead.
The company that hires a truck driver and puts large tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers on the road can be held liable for accidents their drivers or trucks cause. First, the trucking company is responsible for following many of the FMCSA rules and other state and federal trucking regulations. If a trucking company overloads their truck, fails to inspect their truck’s tires, or puts a damaged vehicle back into service, they could be personally responsible for any accidents that truck causes.
Many trucking companies over the years have also been responsible for forcing their drivers to commit violations. Hours of service regulations limit the number of hours that a truck driver can drive in one sitting, over the course of one workday, and over the course of one work week. If the driver, on their own, works too much, they could be too tired and overworked to drive safely. Some trucking companies have historically forced drivers to work additional hours and falsify their driver logs through paycheck withholding and other underhanded methods. These issues could place liability on the trucking company.
As the truck driver’s employer, the trucking company may also be held vicariously liable for problems their drivers cause. The trucking company could be liable for their driver’s errors committed while on duty. Additionally, the company can be held directly liable for hiring a dangerous driver or keeping a driver on staff after a series of dangerous driving incidents or traffic violations. These are the basis of many tractor-trailer accident lawsuits and delivery truck accident cases against trucking companies
Our Miami Truck Accident Lawyer Offers Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an accident with a large truck, contact The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked today. Miami personal injury lawyer Prosper Shaked helps injury victims and their families get the compensation they need after serious accidents. For help with your case, call our law offices today at (305) 690-0244.