Florida Trucking Lawyers Discuss the Relationship between Tired Truck Drivers and Rear-End Collisions

August 14, 2014

The insurance industry routinely tries to downplay the severity of rear impact collisions with references like "rear-ender," "fender bender" and "low impact collision." However, all pretense that a rear impact collision is minor goes out the window when the vehicle that slams into you is an 80,000 lb. tractor-trailer. Rear impact trucking accidents are among the most preventable type of collision involving these large dangerous vehicles.

If a truck driver focuses on the roadway and observes a safe following distance while traveling at an appropriate speed for the conditions, a well maintained truck should almost never slam into the rear of another vehicle. Unfortunately, truck drivers and commercial carriers can elect to take calculated risks associated with cutting costs and increasing profits. Our Miami truck accident lawyers find that the decisions of a commercial driver to disregard anti-fatigue driving regulations often with the tacit approval of a trucking company is one of the most common causes of a collision where a truck rear-ends another vehicle.

Changes in Hours of Service Rules to Prevent Semi-Truck Accidents

Because fatigue from excessive hours behind the wheel and lack of sleep can increase the risk of drowsy truck driver collisions, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) revised their rules to address this issue. Hours of service (HOS) regulations govern the maximum length of driving shifts, the minimum duration of rest periods and other practices to reduce the risk of fatigue-related collisions. The substantial number of semi-truck crashes involving drowsy truck drivers between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. led the FMCSA to restrict the number of 34 hour restarts. The new regulations also provide that a truck driver may only get back behind the wheel if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of the driver's last off-duty or a sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. There is talk of a new law which will ease the restrictions and allow tired drivers to drive. Everyone should contact their representative in Washington and voice your opinion that this law should remain.

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Rear-end Accidents and Underride Events in South Florida

July 31, 2014

Drivers share the roads with tractor-trailers every day across the State of Florida and the high number of vehicles means that every day there will be many instances where passenger cars end up in crashes with commercial trucks . There are many reasons for these crashes, but they frequently are caused by truck driver negligence or the reckless actions of a trucking company.

When a person has been involved in a terrible collision with a tractor-trailer or has lost a loved one as a result of a negligent truck driver, it may be difficult to know where to turn for answers. The skilled and compassionate Miami truck accident attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will work with you to get the answers and the results that you deserve.

One of the most devastating accidents that a person can experience when impacting a tractor-trailer is an underride event. What this means is that a smaller vehicle passes underneath the frame of the commercial truck. Often, there is severe structural damage to the car and in some accidents, the top of the passenger vehicle is sheared off completely.

Rear underride accidents may be caused by a number of different circumstances, including:

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Distracted Driving a Common Cause of Rear-End Crashes Involving Tractor-Trailers

July 7, 2014

While public awareness regarding the dangers posed by distracted drivers has been raised, public service announcements (PSAs) and similar education programs tend to focus on non-commercial drivers traveling to work, school or stores. The reality is that a distracted driver behind the wheel of a semi-truck weighing 40 tons that is bearing down on a stopped passenger car weighing only one ton is especially frightening. Many people dismiss the risk of distracted driving by truck drivers because a federal regulations that took effect on January 3, 2012 banned hand-held use of cell phones by commercial drivers, which includes truckers and bus drivers. Although this ban was a positive step in the right direction, our Miami truck accident lawyers think the regulation's effectiveness in protecting vehicle occupants from being involved in rear-end trucking accidents has been compromised by a number of factors.

Handheld Cell Phone Ban for Truckers Is Hard to Enforce

The ban on handheld use of cell phones by truck drivers presents significant enforcement challenges for law enforcement officers. The cab of a semi-truck sits up much higher than a typical patrol car which makes it difficult for a law enforcement officer to determine that a truck driver is texting or talking on a cell phone. The truck driver may have the cell phone hidden in the driver's lap or under the steering wheel. This means that many times a commercial driver's illegal use of a cell phone might not be detected until the driver drifts into an adjacent lane or rear-ends another vehicle. Because smart phones have so many uses that are not prohibited, law enforcement officers also may be less motivated to cite commercial drivers. This disincentive stems from the difficulty in proving an unauthorized use of a cell phone which typically will require submitting a subpoena to the cell phone carrier to obtain phone records.

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FMCSA Proposes Shift to Electronic Logbooks to Reduce the Number of Fatigue-Related Trucking Accidents

June 29, 2014

Truck driver fatigue is widely acknowledged as one of the most significant factors in fatal tractor-trailer crashes. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has promulgated daily and weekly limits on the number of hours that commercial drivers can operate a large truck to reduce the role of fatigue in causing collisions, these rules are widely disregarded. Current hours of service rules limit commercial drivers from operating a tractor-trailer for more than 11 hours per day and mandate a 34 hour rest break after 60 hours of driving in a week.

Truck drivers are an essential part of the American economy. Our Miami truck accident lawyers know that most trucking companies and their drivers are honest, hard working folks. They are unfortunately judged by those in the trucking industry who "cut corners" and violate FMCSA rules and regulations. Truck drivers generally earn more pay by driving longer shifts, so there are a number of drivers who often violate hours of service rules with the express or implied approval of the trucking company. It is important to remember that dispatchers are aware of where drivers are, how long they have been driving and if they are "over hours. Although federal regulations that require driver's to maintain a log that tracks hours of service should prevent this practice, these logs are routinely manipulated or falsified. The FMCSA is considering a proposal that could make driver logbooks more accurate and make it easier to expose fraud.

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Florida Tractor-Trailer Accidents: Semi-Truck Brake Failure

June 23, 2014

Although the most common cause of motorists being rear-ended by tractor-trailers is unsafe driving practices like distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding or following too close, some rear impact tractor-trailer crashes are caused by lack of proper vehicle maintenance or defective braking systems. A study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that nearly 30 percent of all trucking accidents are caused at least partially by brake failure. When an 80,000 tractor-trailer slams into your vehicle without properly functioning brakes, the result is often catastrophic injuries like spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and even wrongful death.

The braking systems of tractor-trailers are comprised of many components and parts that must be inspected and maintained by a trained mechanic. When trucking companies and drivers are lax about conducting inspections or performing maintenance, a forty ton vehicle can race down an incline with no ability to slow down or stop until the truck slams into another vehicle. Our Florida tractor-trailer accident attorneys often work with trucking experts in mechanics and engineering who can examine a braking system to isolate problems and identify defects. These experts can help a judge or jury understand why the brakes failed, as well as what actions should have been taken by the trucking company and/or driver to prevent a rear-end collision caused by non-functioning brakes.

Because our Miami trucking accident lawyers have successfully represented individuals injured in a broad range of tractor-trailer accidents, we are familiar with the potential causes of brake failure, including condensation, worn tires, improperly adjusted brakes, worn brake components, inadequate air pressure and overheated brakes. Trucking companies and drivers that neglect to perform necessary maintenance constitute the most common cause of brake failure-related tractor-trailer crashes.

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Tracy Morgan and the Dangers of Tired Truck Drivers

June 12, 2014

Everyday, on our nation's highways, large trucks, some weighing as much as 80,000 pounds, are involved in crashes. Plaintiff lawyers and victims of accidents involving 18- wheelers have been lobbying for years to get reasonable limitations on the amount of hours an interstate truck driver can work without prescribed rest periods. Last July 1 (2013) new rules enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) went into effect to hopefully limit the number of crashes caused by truck driver fatigue, found to be the leading cause of truck accidents. Some of the provisions of the law are being questioned by lawmakers who hope to reduce the restrictions. Perhaps Tracy Morgan's well publicized accident will be the beginning of more safety restrictions and hopefully will save more lives.

In the early morning hours of Saturday June 7, 2014, Morgan and four of his friends were traveling north on he New Jersey Turnpike in a limo van being driven by a professional driver. Another professional driver, Kevin Ropel, 35, a driver for Walmart, caused a crash that killed comedian James McNair ( known as "Jimmy Mack"), severely injured Morgan and also injured two other comedians in the van, Ardie Fuqua and Jeffery Millea. The cause of the crash is believed to be "driver fatigue" on he part of Roper. Roper has been charged criminally in the crash and could serve jail time. Although the investigation is ongoing, news that Roper lives in Georgia but works out of Delaware, has been reported. The long drive to work could easily have caused him to be less than awake at the time of the crash. Walmart has taken the public stance, that if their driver is at-fault, then they are responsible for the injuries and death. Walmart and other carriers should not only make sure that their driver's are following the law with regard to hours worked and prescribed rest periods, but should go further, and interview their drivers before every shift to make sure that they are physically, emotionally and rested to drive their trucks.

Our team of Miami truck accident lawyers have seen in far too many trucking cases that we have handled how drivers were tired, had worked too many hours without rest and felt pressured by their employer or client to "get the goods delivered." Many drivers are paid by the load and feel that if they can perform their route in a shorter period of time, then they could earn more. No lawyer is against people making more money, but, the money should not be at the expense of safety. The trucking industry must make it easier for drivers to earn a living while being safe on the roadways.

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Trucking Collisions Not Your Typical Rear-Ender

June 9, 2014

Insurance companies routinely dismiss the severity of rear-end collisions as "low impact crashes." This biased representation of the severe injuries that can result in rear impact crashes is misleading. However, this image is especially inapplicable to the damage that can result from a rear-ender where the vehicle that slams into you is a forty ton fully loaded tractor-trailer. The force of impact caused by an 80,000 pound commercial truck crashing into a 3,000 pound passenger car that has stopped for traffic is both predicable and devastating. Our Miami truck accident lawyers know that when a fatality occurs in a trucking accident, 98 percent of the time the victim is someone other than the driver of the big-rig, such as occupants of the smaller vehicle, bicyclists or pedestrians.

The weight and size disparity between a tractor-trailer and passenger car create several particularly dangerous scenarios. The truck may literally crush the smaller vehicle, shove the vehicle into cross-traffic or ride over the top of the passenger car. This latter type of rear-end trucking accident is referred to as a "truck override accident". Override accidents occur when the front of a tractor-trailer with a higher bumper passes over the back of another vehicle like a passenger car. While tractor-trailers are supposed to have override and underride guards that prevent this type of crash, there is evidence that federal safety requirements and industry standards for these guards may not be sufficient to protect the occupants of small passenger vehicles. This safety feature may also be defectively designed or manufactured so that they fail under the force of a collision. We recently handled a tragic case, where a teenage boy, riding as a passenger in a car was killed in just such an "override" crash. Although we were successful and got our client's money, the pain and anguish of losing a loved one can never be taken away. As trial lawyers we hope and history has proven, that our investigations into crashes and their causes had changed many defective and dangerous conditions. Presently in the news, there are daily reports about the engine ignition failures in GM vehicles leading to mass recalls. The defect was uncovered by a lawyer for the family of the victim. Our firm and others across the country have had cases which have resulted in changes which have saved lives or diminished injuries,

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Why Filing a Trucking Accident Lawsuit May Save Lives in the Future

May 27, 2014

When people are involved in collisions involving tractor-trailers, there is a high risk of suffering devastating injuries or even wrongful death. Because the insurance and trucking industries employ powerful lobbying efforts, some individuals who lose a loved one or experience injury in a semi-truck collision are hesitant about filing a lawsuit. A person who suffers a broken bone might use their medical insurance to obtain treatment and avoid filing a claim for damages. Our Miami truck accident lawyers feel this reticence is misplaced since truck drivers with horrible driving records sometimes slip through the cracks because of indifferent trucking companies, loopholes in trucking regulations and lax enforcement by state and federal regulators.

When trucking accident victims file personal injury lawsuits, these lawsuits not only provide necessary financial compensation for victims and their families, but they also can get truck drivers with poor driving records off our Florida roadways. History and experience have shown that Trial Lawyers effect positive change and save lives. How? By forcing big business to make products safer and by making people responsible for hiring good, qualified workers and giving them safe equipment to do their jobs.

A fatal trucking accident on Interstate 75 earlier this year provides an example of the types of drivers that personal injury lawsuits might take out of service. The truck driver involved in the fatal semi-truck crash had been cited for over two dozen traffic infractions over a ten year period according to the Tampa Bay Times. The operator's commercial driver's license had been suspended six times prior to the deadly trucking accident. His violations include speeding and driving on a suspended license.

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Why You Need a Florida Trucking Accident Attorney

May 21, 2014

There is a tendency among many people to view a trucking accident essentially as any other motor vehicle accident but with one extremely large vehicle. This misconception fails to account for the qualitative differences between trucking litigation and personal injury claims involving passenger vehicles. Trucking accident claims require a thorough understanding of the complex matrix of trucking regulations at the federal and state level along with an awareness of the special evidentiary issues involved in trucking litigation. Those who suffer bodily injury in a motor vehicle accident almost always will fare better when represented by an experienced personal injury attorney However, the challenge of dealing with the trucking industry regulatory structure as well as industry customs and practices places a premium on working with an experienced Florida truck accident lawyer.

Trucking Regulations Provide Common Basis for Liability

Commercial drivers are subject to the same body of traffic safety rules as other drivers, so truck driver negligence can be based on speeding, tailgating, unsafe lane changes, impaired driving, running red lights and other forms of negligence exhibited by other drivers. However, commercial drivers owe a higher duty of care to other vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians because of the inherent danger posed by a big rig that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when transporting a maximum load.

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What To Do If You Have Been Involved in a Florida Truck Accident

May 19, 2014

Over 400,000 truck accidents will occur each year, resulting in a U.S. driver being hurt or killed in a truck accident every 16 minutes. Being involved in an accident with a tractor trailer, semi-truck, or any other large truck can be terrifying. Often, in the moments following the accident, victims are in a state of shock, panic, and sometimes pain. It is critical that you have an understanding of the actions to take following a truck accident in Florida so that you can protect receive proper medical treatment and protect your legal rights.

Our Miami truck accident lawyers have put together the following list of tips for what to do in the event you are involved in a truck accident or 18 wheeler crash:

1. Do not leave the scene of the accident--under no circumstances should you leave the scene of the accident. Under Florida law, it is illegal to leave the scene of any accident when a person has been injured or killed. No matter how minor the crash may seem, damages and injuries may still be sustained. Therefore, always remain at the scene of the accident until help arrives. Ensure you are located in a safe position, preferably the nearest soft shoulder, so you do not incur any further injury.

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Greyhound Bus Involved in Fatal Florida Crash

May 12, 2014

On April 4, 2014, a Greyhound Bus bound for Atlanta was involved in a fatal crash near the Florida-Georgia border. The crash occurred on a Friday night at about 11:44 p.m. in Hamilton County, Florida, on northbound I-75. Right before the crash, authorities received a call that a 1993 Buick Century was driving the wrong way on the interstate.

The wrong way driver, now identified as 91 year old Ernest Lee Holmes of High Springs, FL, first pummeled into a 2013 Ford Expedition driven by Peter J. Linek. Linek, a 55 year old from Ormond Beach, FL, and Holmes both perished in the accident. Neither driver was carrying passengers. The Greyhound bus, traveling in the center lane, and two other vehicles behind the bus swerved to avoid the head on collision. With all of the action and vehicles switching lanes, multiple accidents occurred.

Our Miami truck accident lawyers found that a total of five vehicles were involved in the crash spurred by the wrong way driver. Thirteen passengers aboard the 41 passenger Greyhound bus were taken to local hospitals for treatment of minor injuries. The bus driver was not injured. Five young children, between the ages of three and 11, were in one of the vehicles involved in the secondary collision. Fortunately, none were injured. It is not clear at this time whether alcohol was a contributing factor to the accident.

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The Aftermath of a Truck Accident: Common Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents

May 9, 2014

Given their immense size and monstrous mass, accidents involving tractor trailers, semi trucks, and other large commercial vehicles often lead to grave injury and even death. Over 140,000 individuals a year are injured in accidents between a passenger vehicle and a big rig. Approximately 4,000 people perish in such accidents annually.

Undoubtedly, large truck accidents can leave a path of destruction in their wake, destroying vehicles and lives. The following is a look at the aftermath of a truck accident and the injuries one may sustain from a tractor trailer accident.

Common Injuries Following a Truck Accident

Large truck accidents can lead to serious injury. Our Miami truck accident lawyers know their potential for long-term, disabling injuries is far greater than a crash between two passenger vehicles. Some of the most common injuries stemming from large truck accidents include:

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The High Stakes of Tractor Trailer Accidents

May 7, 2014

Large trucks can be tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, big rigs, straight trucks, or cargo (utility) vans. Each of these vehicles weighs over 10,000 pounds, and many tip the scales at closer to 80,000 pounds! The number of trucks on U.S. roadways has climbed drastically over the years, and along with this increase has come a surge of accidents between large trucks and passenger vehicles.

Our Miami truck accident lawyers have compiled a list of facts concerning tractor trailers and other large trucks. It is our hope that these facts will call your attention to the grave dangers of trucking accidents and lead to safer driving.

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A Look at the Causes Behind Tractor Trailer Accidents in Florida: Part III

April 28, 2014

In Parts I and II of this three part series, our Miami truck accident lawyers examined the following common causes of tractor trailer accidents: 1) driver fatigue; 2) distracted driving; 3) drug use; 4) speeding; 5) exceeding hours of service requirements; 6) poor maintenance. In the final part of our look at the causes of commercial truck accidents, we address some additional causes of commercial truck accidents. It is our hope that an understanding of the causes of these devastating accidents will help you stay safe.

7. Road rage--an estimated 10% of all trucking accidents occur as a result of road rage. Triggers behind road rage can range from fatigue, traffic congestion, and drug use. The aggressive driving that leads to road rage can cause poor driving decisions and erratic behavior. Your commercial truck accident attorney will use witness statements and an examination of the scene of the accident to evaluate whether road rage was a factor in the accident. In many trucking accidents, drivers are required to submit to drug and alcohol testing.

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The Physics of Accidents Involving Large Trucks

April 24, 2014

Accidents involving passenger vehicles and tractor trailers or other large commercial trucks often lead to catastrophic injury and even death. These accidents present exceptional dangers for drivers of passenger vehicles. While many car accidents do not result in serious injury to occupants, accidents involving commercial trucks nearly always do. In the U.S., a driver is injured or killed by a commercial vehicle every 16 minutes. Approximately 98% of all 18 wheeler accidents results in at least one fatality. Tragically, over 3,500 automobile passengers are killed in crashes involving tractor trailers and other large trucks.

Every vehicle on the roadway adheres to the basic laws of physics according to its mass and velocity, as well as interaction with the road surface. Our Miami truck accident lawyers know how the vast differences between large trucks and passenger vehicles have a significant impact on the dynamics of a traffic accident. To better understand the grave potential of tractor trailer accidents, you must first look at the physics of such accidents.

Incredible Mass: The Weight of Tractor Trailers Contributes to the Devastation of Accidents

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