Truck Crash Claims: A Closer Look
Mostly because there are more large trucks, and heavier large trucks, on the road than ever before, the number of truck accidents has increased 48 percent since 2009.
There are more trucks because more people are buying more things. Pretty much every item for sale in the Tampa Bay area, from a new car to a candy bar, spent some time on a big rig. Furthermore, largely because of the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic, regulators now routinely overlook weight limits in this area.
Large truck accidents usually cause catastrophic injuries, such as serious burns and head injuries. The average hospital bill usually exceeds $50,000 in these cases. There are other economic losses as well, mostly lost property and lost work productivity. Furthermore, these victims deserve compensation for their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
This compensation is available, but insurance companies don’t simply give this money away. Instead, a Tampa truck accident lawyer must fight for it.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Poorly-maintained vehicles and operator fatigue are two of the leading causes of truck accidents in Florida.
Long haul truckers routinely put more than 100,000 miles a year on their rigs. Therefore, some mechanical wear and tear is inevitable. Making matters more complicated, large trucks have lots of moving parts. A breakdown in any one area, such as a bolt which has vibrated loose, could have disastrous consequences.
Truck drivers have a higher duty of care than noncommercial operators. So, they arguably have a duty to undergo state inspection-type reviews several times a year, as opposed to once a year. Normally, however, truckers only perform walk-by inspections, at most.
Operator fatigue is a serious problem as well. In order to make money on each trip, truckers must stay on the road as long as possible. Fatigue and alcohol have basically the same effect on the body and brain. In fact, driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for commercial operators in most states, including Florida.
Sometimes, the time of day is more important than the amount of sleep. Most people are naturally drowsy at certain times, such as late at night, no matter how much rest they’ve had recently.
First Party Liability
If a mechanical problem or another traffic law violation substantially causes a wreck, the tortfeasor (negligent operator) could be presumptively liable for damages. Additional evidence on this point includes the nature of the problem and the length of time the problem existed.
Fatigued driving is not against the law, at least in most cases. So, if drowsy driving caused the wreck, the victim/plaintiff must normally use the ordinary negligence doctrine. The duty of care requires truckers, and all other drivers, to be reasonably well-rested before they get behind the wheel. Fatigue, like alcohol, impairs both judgement ability and motor skills.
Third Party Liability
Truckers are legally responsible for damages in these situations. Frequently, the shipping, transportation, or other company that owned the truck is financially responsible for damages.
The respondeat superior rule applies if the tortfeasor was an employee who was acting within the scope of employment. Florida law defines these key elements in broad, victim-friendly ways. For example, even if the truck driver was an unpaid volunteer, like a church volunteer, the driver was probably an “employee” for negligence purposes.
Vicarious liability theories like respondeat superior are very important in truck accident claims. The aforementioned injuries are so serious that, in many cases, truck drivers don’t have enough individual insurance coverage to fully compensate victims. Respondeat superior gives these people an additional source of recovery.
Work with a Diligent Hillsborough County Lawyer
Car crash victims are usually entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact Mark H. Wright, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.