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

April 14, 2014

Each year, there are over 500,000 trucking crashes across the country and 5,000 such crashes result in at least one fatality, so over 500 people are killed each year by being involved in a truck incident . In any crash involving a commercial truck, there is a greater chance of serious injury or death than in accidents between two motor vehicles. In Part I of this three part series, we our Miami tractor trailer accident lawyers will look at two of the most common causes of commercial trucking accidents:

1) Driver Fatigue and

2) Distracted Driving. We examine some additional common causes of commercial truck crashes in this second segment.

3. Drug Use
--a recent study examining the cause of truck accidents found that the use of either illegal or prescription drugs played a role in 26% of all crashes. Drugs lead to erratic behavior and impaired a trucker's reaction time. Reaction is the time from when our eyes perceive a danger and the time we begin to react, i.e., hit the brakes, swerve, etc. During this "reaction time" a vehicle travels a certain distance dependant on its speed .Drug use among truckers is notoriously high, with some long haul truckers resorting to stimulant drugs to keep them awake through the night and combat tedious hours on the road. Your experienced Florida truck accident attorney will investigate whether drugs contributed to your accident.

4. Speeding--according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, speed is a contributing factor in over 23% of all trucking crashes . Excessive speed when driving an 80,000 pound commercial truck often becomes deadly. Trucking companies have the means to control and monitor their driver's speed through speed governors, but not all use these devices due to the expense associated with their purchase and installation. A licensed Florida truck accident attorney can determine the speed at which the truck was traveling at the time of the accident to further your claim and often the degree of braking used, if any..

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

April 7, 2014

A search of the local news reveals that accidents involving commercial trucks, big rigs, tractor trailers, and 18 wheelers occur all too often in South Florida, with frequently deadly results. Recently, in Palm Beach, Florida, a large crane truck ran over a pedestrian, killing the man then continuing to drive for about a mile before realizing a person was struck. The crane was heading on Royal Palm and turning south on South Country Road when the incident occurred. Witnesses attempted to warn the crane driver before he ran over 68 year old James Brennan, who fell underneath the truck.

Meanwhile, in Miramar, a tractor trailer struck a woman in a wheelchair, who was dragged by the truck before the driver sped off. The woman died instantly, and the driver was later apprehended.

In West Palm Beach, a car that hydroplaned on I-95 ended up wedged underneath a semi-truck. The vehicle was dragged for several miles, and though the ride was terrifying, amazingly the driver and passenger of the vehicle remained unharmed.

The result was not so fortunate for JoJo Nicolas, a former University of Miami football player who died in a crash involving a tractor trailer in Miami. Nicolas was driving westbound on the Causeway when he rear-ended a tractor trailer in front of him. His vehicle went under the tractor trailer and the truck tore into the car. The cause of the accident is still being investigated.

As these local news stories illustrate, tractor trailer and other large commercial truck accidents can lead to tragic consequences and occur at alarming frequency. In Part I of this three part series, our Miami truck accident lawyers examine some of the common causes of tractor trailer accidents in Florida. It is our hope that this list can help you stay safe by anticipating the causes of truck accidents. It will also aid in your understanding of the problem of truck accidents so that if you are in an accident, your chances of recovery will be better.

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How Black Box Technology Can Bring Violations to Light

March 25, 2014

For many years, truck drivers have been breaking the rules in order to get products to their destinations faster, whether on their own initiatives or at the urging of trucking companies looking at the financial bottom line. Even log books have not been able to stop this bad behavior, but the use of black boxes may demonstrate the wrongdoing with clear evidence, leading to justice for those who been harmed as the result of a commercial truck accident.

The knowledgeable and hard-working South Florida truck accident attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. have used the available tools to recover damages for truck accident victims for more than thirty years. We will use this new technology as one more way to identify and hold accountable those individuals and companies responsible for the injuries that our clients suffered.

Black boxes are making the leap from airplanes to trucks and even some passenger cars. These boxes can record speeds, locations based on built-in global positioning systems (GPS), braking distances, including how quickly brakes were applied in relation to distance traveled, and hours when the vehicle was being operated. This information may be critical in accident reconstruction, but it also may be used to track the route that the driver took to the bar to show where and how many drinks were consumed prior to the accident.

Black boxes are, in effect, an electronic version of the log book with additional details about each trip, but cannot be manipulated as easily because of the tie-in to the various systems of the truck and the electronic record. The devices may record other critical information related to a collision, including correspondence between the truck driver and the trucking company immediately following a crash. There even may be admissions of guilt in these transmissions. In addition, the communications may contain information about mechanical problems that were ignored or overlooked, indications of driver fatigue, or challenges that the driver was having with the specific type of truck.

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