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Because large tractor-trailers transporting a maximum load under federal law can reach forty tons, any crash caused by a careless, distracted, or speeding tractor-trailer operator will typically have a devastating impact on occupants of the other vehicle.  When trucking accidents involve pedestrians, the outcome typically will be fatal.  Although pedestrians have the right-of-way in many situations, a commercial driver and trucking company will not automatically be liable when a pedestrian is struck down by a big-rig.  Our trucking accident attorneys recognize the importance of careful investigation, analysis, and presentation of evidence, which typically includes expert witnesses.

Our trucking accident lawyers note a case from Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals that provides a graphic reminder of the importance of effective legal representation of a pedestrian who suffers fatal injuries in a trucking accident.  In Ponzera v. O’Neal, the plaintiff was struck by a tractor-trailer on a roadway that was dimly lit at night.  The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, contending a lack of material facts in dispute that indicated that the truck driver’s conduct was negligent.  When considering a motion for summary judgment, the judge will view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.  If the judge finds that there is not a dispute of material facts, the court will determine that the party who filed the motion is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.  Summary judgment was granted by the trial judge against the pedestrian on the issue of whether the truck driver operated the vehicle negligently, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →

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The trucking industry claims a high toll in loss of lives and injuries because of the massive size and weight of tractor-trailers.  Although many safety regulations and practices can reduce the toll claimed by unsafe big-rig operators, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently recognized the importance of adopting minimum standards for entry-level truck drivers.  The prospect of young drivers without a certain amount of experience operating a tractor-trailer is a frightening prospect.  Our trucking accident lawyers laud the efforts of the FMCSA to establish basic training standards for newly licensed commercial drivers.

Proposed New Commercial License Requirements

In March, the FMCSA proposed a set of mandatory training standards for entry level commercial operators of trucks and buses.  Our tractor-trailer accident lawyers view these changes as a step in the right direction toward making our roads safer.  Drivers seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) would need to satisfy the prerequisite training standards for novice drivers of trucks and buses.  Under the proposal, applicants for a “Class A” CDL, which is required to operate a tractor-trailer combination weighing 26,001 pounds or more, must complete thirty hours of behind-the-wheel training program that complies with FMCSA standards.  The instruction programs must include at least ten hours of operating a vehicle in this class on a practice course. Continue reading →

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Our Miami tractor-trailer accident lawyers recognize the principles of simple physics dictate that a motor vehicle collision between a 3,000-pound economy car and an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer often results in tragic consequences for the occupants of the passenger car.  Despite the extensive state and federal regulations that govern the trucking industry, commercial carriers possess strong financial motivations to cut corners and disregard safety regulations.

In the pursuit of profits, trucking companies often compel their truck driver to ignore or skirt trucking regulations.  Compliance from commercial drivers typically can be obtained by company practices or unwritten policies directing drivers to engage in conduct that amounts to a violation.  Alternatively, commercial carriers often construct compensation plans that reward drivers for meeting unrealistic shipping schedules that virtually necessitate non-compliance with anti-fatigue hours of service (HOS) rules.  In this blog, our Florida trucking accident attorneys want to let the public know about a new proposed trucking regulation designed to ban trucking companies from coercing drivers into violating safety regulations. Continue reading →

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Many truck accident cases in Florida involve commercial truck drivers that are from out-of-state. Florida law recognizes the corporate shield doctrine, which prevents defendants who act exclusively in a corporate capacity from being dragged into Florida state courts. However, as the case below illustrates, this doctrine is not an absolute bar from being held liable in a Florida court, depending upon the circumstances of the case.

In Kitroser v. Hurt, a woman was killed when an employee of a Missouri company negligently drove a commercial semi-truck and crashed into the woman’s car in Florida. The woman’s estate sued the foreign company, the driver, and additional employees who supervised or trained the driver. The trial court found that Florida law provided a basis for a Florida court to exercise jurisdiction over the company’s employees. However, on appeal, the district court of appeals reversed the trial court’s decision. The case made its way to the Florida Supreme Court.

The Florida Supreme Court found that the company’s employees committed negligent acts while they were present at the company’s facilities in Florida. The Court determined that the company’s employees were negligent in supervising, training, and retaining the driver by permitting him to continue to drive one of its trucks even after they had received information that he was not fit to drive. The employees were all either resident of Texas or Georgia during the accident, but they committed the negligent actions in Florida. Continue reading →

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The issue of causation is a critical part of any negligence case, including truck accident suits. As illustrated in the case below, courts must establish proximate cause of an injury before it can decide whether a truck driver or trucking company is liable for injuries from a truck accident. Proximate cause is a legal concept that refers to an action that causes injury as a direct, natural, and uninterrupted consequence. In other words, without such proximate cause, the injury would not have occurred.

In Sunbelt Environmental, Inc. v. Gulf Coast Truck & Equipment Company, Inc., a bicycle rider was hit by a garbage truck that was passing the rider on the street. The part of the garbage truck that crashed into the bicyclist was a tarp that made the garbage truck too wide in violation of Florida law. The bicycle rider suffered serious injuries and required an amputation as a result of the accident. The rider filed suit against the garbage collection company, and the parties entered a settlement agreement. The garbage collection company then sued the truck manufacturer that installed the tarp on the truck in question that made it too wide. The company claimed that the manufacturer was negligent and was strictly liable for its negligent design of the tarp that made the garbage truck overly broad. However, the manufacturer filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that they were not liable because the driver of the truck, who was an employee of the garbage collection company, was negligent in failing to pass the bike rider at a safe distance of at least three feet in violation of Florida statute. Additionally, they claimed that the driver negligently failed to decrease speed to avoid crashing into the rider. Continue reading →

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Our truck accident attorneys find that injury claims involving truck accidents often present complex issues in litigation. Not only are the issues of negligence and liability difficult to navigate, but as the case below illustrates, even the initial matter of who may or may not be held liable can present many hurdles. Truck accidents often involve multiple entities – the truck driver, the trucking company, the company that employed the trucking company for shipping, and, sometimes, the owner of the truck itself – and all have competing interests in the tractor-trailer, the cargo, and the employment of truck drivers. Prospective plaintiffs have to parse all of these issues carefully before initiating litigation, and those seeking to file these kinds of suits should consult extensively with an experienced truck accident attorney.

In Peninsula Logistics, Inc. v. Erb, a Florida appellate court considered the issue of vicarious liability – a defendant’s liability for the actions of an independent contractor. The plaintiff, in that case, was driving a vehicle that collided with a tractor-trailer that was owned by another company and operated by an independent contractor. During the collision, the independent contractor was transporting cargo items for the defendant, and the company that owned the tractor-trailer chose the independent contractor who will drive the tractor-trailer. The plaintiff filed an action in Florida circuit court against the defendant, and the defendant moved for a directed verdict in its favor. The trial court ruled in the plaintiff’s favor and granted summary judgment holding the defendant vicariously liable for the actions of its independent contractor, and the defendant appealed. Continue reading →

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Our Miami truck accident lawyers have found there are often a wide variety of issues that plaintiffs may face in personal injury or wrongful death litigation involving tractor-trailer accidents. Tractor-trailers belong to a unique class of vehicles that carry substantially more risks in operation. Accidents may not be limited to traditional vehicle collisions or pedestrian mishaps – as the case below illustrates, tractor-trailers may also be involved in unique situations that raise specific issues of liability.

In the case of L.E. Myers Co. v. Young, the Second District Court of Appeals in Florida considered the issue of whether a particular situation involving a tractor-trailer was inherently dangerous. The case resulted in a fatality, and the deceased driver’s estate sued for wrongful death. The defendant in the case was a company that was hired by the electric company to replace power poles in a specified area. The defendant hired a subcontractor to install four concrete poles measuring 85 feet long and weighing around 21,000 pounds along a particular street. On the day of the accident, the one of the subcontractor’s drivers drove a tractor-trailer to the worksite with one of the poles strapped onto the trailer. The pole was long enough to extend from the back of the trailer by several feet. The driver had to park the tractor-trailer on the should of the street and maneuvered the cab and most of the flatbed fully onto the street shoulder. However, the truck’s outermost left rear tire of the trailer rested on and slightly over the white line on the edge of the street. Continue reading →

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Our Miami truck accident lawyers are all too familiar with accidents involving large semi-trucks or tractor-trailers and how these accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic losses. The sheer size of the vehicles involved means that any accident involving smaller vehicles may result in serious injuries or quite possibly, fatalities. Litigation of accidents with large trucks is highly-specialized because it requires knowing the heightened duties of care that semi-truck drivers have when they are on the road. Additionally, trucking companies also have specific responsibilities to ensure that they maintain trucks properly and that the working conditions of truck drivers do not promote dangerous driving on the road.

Recently, the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida issued a decision in a large truck accident case that unfortunately resulted in a pedestrian fatality. The case, Panzera v. O’Neal, revolves around the issue of whether there was enough evidence on the record for the trial court to issue summary judgment for the defendant truck company. In Panzera, the plaintiff is the estate of a man who was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer while trying to cross a Florida interstate highway on foot. The deceased man’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against the truck driver and the company that employed him, and the defendants asked the court to grant summary judgment in its favor. The trial court did so and granted summary judgment in the defendants’ favor. Continue reading →

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A recent Tallahassee garbage truck accident has left a 73-year-old man dead.  The true cause of this accident is unknown, but it appears as though the man struck the back of the garbage truck.  The aftermath of this accident demonstrates just how devastating the damage was to the front of the man’s SUV, as well as the driver’s door.  Pictures taken show that the driver of the SUV was outmatched by the strength of the garbage truck.  There are numerous possibilities for why this accident occurred, and all possibilities will be thoroughly investigated.  Authorities have confirmed that the driver of the garbage truck, who was not injured, had a clean driving record.

The truck accident attorneys of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano are often faced with accident cases that pose more questions than answers.  Many clients call us and don’t know what steps to take moving forward.  Our attorneys thoroughly investigate every potential client’s situation to help get those questions answered.  Continue reading →

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A recent Sarasota accident on I-75 has resulted in the arrest of a 16-year-old teenager who fled the scene of a deadly tanker truck accident.  As the teen was driving with a 15-year-old passenger in the middle of the night, a tanker truck hit them from behind.  The details of how this initial collision occurred are unclear.  However, it is clear that the 16-year-old driver fled the scene of a deadly accident which is considered a second-degree felony in Florida.  Additionally, the teenager was driving on a restricted learner’s driver’s license which meant he was not supposed to be driving at the time this accident occurred.

As the tanker truck hit the back of the vehicle driven by the teenager, the truck driver was ejected from the tractor-trailer and died at the scene.  The tanker truck was carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel, making this accident even more dangerous than others.  Instead of seeking to help the truck driver in need, the teenagers fled and did not turn back.

At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, we have come across trucking accidents where criminal conduct is involved.  We have represented clients in a wide variety of cases that are never exactly alike.  You may have experienced a similar situation as this accident described above, but more likely than not, there are some facts that are unique to your particular situation.  As such, you deserve a fair and impartial case evaluation to help you have a better understanding of what legal steps may be available to you. Continue reading →

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