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Although vehicle occupants injured in trucking accidents have the right to pursue a lawsuit in Florida without legal representation, the decision to do so will virtually guarantee disastrous results.  Commercial carriers and their insurance companies expect that truck drivers will be involved in accidents, so trucking companies anticipate litigation.  Commercial carriers have rapid response investigation teams, a network of accident reconstruction experts, and extensive litigation resources all focused on denying or limiting the recovery for the injuries and fatalities caused by careless truck drivers and unsafe tractor-trailers.

Along with these reasons for not attempting to handle a trucking accident claim without an experienced Miami trucking accident lawyer, unrepresented plaintiffs also must navigate the rules of civil procedure, local court rules, evidentiary rules, and many other technical and procedural “rules of the game.”  If you do not understand these procedural requirements, you are like a participant in a highly complex game without knowing how the game is played.  In this blog post, our Miami tractor-trailer injury attorneys review a recent case that demonstrates the folly of trying to proceed without legal representation in complex trucking litigation.
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Miami tractor-trailer injury attorneys recognize that a “minor trucking accident” is a fiction.  When a collision occurs between vehicles that are 25 times different in weight, the smaller vehicle does not tend to hold up well under the force of the impact.  While tractor-trailer accidents often result in catastrophic injury or wrongful death, the individual who suffers life-altering injury or wrongful death is almost exclusively an occupant of the other vehicle.  In fatal collisions between passenger vehicles and large trucks, the party who dies is an occupant of the passenger vehicle 97 percent of the time.  Given the high stakes in personal safety and loss of life associated with collisions involving large trucks, allegations that a plaintiff’s conduct contributed to his own injuries can have a devastating impact.  In this blog post, our Miami tractor-trailer accident lawyers review a recent court case where a new trial was ordered so that a jury could evaluate the issue of the plaintiff’s fault.

In the 4th DCA decision of Botta v. Florida Power & Light Co., a motorist injured in a collision with a large truck filed suit alleging negligence.  During an after hours power outage, the utility company dispatched a driver operating a large truck to investigate the problem.  Although it was dark outside, the driver of the truck from the utility company did not put out reflective markers when he parked on the side of the road.  The parties disagreed on the question of whether the driver of the truck turned on his hazard blinkers.  The plaintiff slammed into the back of the large truck, but he contended that he thought the vehicle was in motion. While the plaintiff also presented evidence that he attempted to brake to avoid the collision, a witness testified that the plaintiff did not reduce his speed before the accident.  Conflicting evidence also was presented regarding whether the plaintiff had his headlights on at the time of the crash.  The utility company argued that the defendant had poor vision, which contributed to the accident. Continue reading →

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Many people are familiar with the popular myth that the pedestrian always has the right of way.  Although the vulnerability of pedestrians makes it important that drivers of all types of motor vehicles exercise caution when pedestrians are present, there are circumstances where a driver will not be liable for a fatal pedestrian accident.  If the truck driver was operating his big-rig lawfully, the trucking company and the commercial driver might avoid liability if he has taken all reasonable actions to avoid the pedestrian accident.  In this blog, our Miami tractor-trailer accident attorneys analyze a recent decision by the Florida 2nd DCA that provides an example of the type of evidence a court will consider when determining whether the driver of a large truck is liable for the death of a pedestrian.

In Panzera v. O’Neal, a pedestrian was struck by a tractor-trailer after he scaled a fence and tried to cross the interstate.  The man attempted to cross where no street lights were present at 3 a.m.  After the tractor-trailer had stricken the man, his estate filed a wrongful death action because the man failed to survive his injuries.  The driver of the semi-truck testified that he could not see the pedestrian until he crossed the emergency lane into the lane occupied by the semi-truck.  The truck driver also testified that he applied the brakes hard immediately upon seeing the pedestrian in an attempt to prevent the tragedy.  Continue reading →

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Our Miami Truck Accident Lawyers report that a jury in Escambia County returned a verdict for $12.6 million in damages stemming from a trucking accident about six (6) months ago.  The Pensacola News Journal reported Jey Michael Hendrix and his wife were driving through an intersection in their Jeep Wrangler when they were struck by an industrial truck owned by the Alabama-based company Burford’s Tree Surgeons.  The drivers of the truck turned left in the intersection into the path of the Jeep Wrangler.  Because the driver of the industrial truck committed an unsafe left turn, the defense focused on contesting damages.  The defense contended that the severe nature of the injuries suffered by Mr. Hendrix was made worse because he was not wearing a seat belt.

Insurance companies frequently take the approach of defending personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits based on challenging the extent of damages when liability is fairly clear.  If an insurance company’s insured slams into the rear of an injury victim’s vehicle, for example, the insurer will investigate the plaintiff’s medical records, the facts of the accident, and efforts by the defendant to “mitigate” damages.  Mitigation refers to the plaintiffs’ duty to take action to avoid exacerbating their own injuries.  A plaintiff’s failure to take reasonable care for his or her own safety also constitutes contributory negligence that can result in a reduction in the trucking accident victim’s damages in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff.  For example, the insurance company of a trucking company’s driver who collides with a car stopped for traffic will often focus on contesting damages because liability is fairly clear. Continue reading →

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South Florida Commercial Truck Accident Attorneys Discuss the Maintenance Duties of Trucking Companies

Commercial trucks travel roadways nationwide to deliver and pick up essential goods. These trucks often weigh in at 80,000 pounds fully loaded. With such a heavy load and so many hours spent on the road, it is vital that tractor-trailers be properly maintained to ensure the safety of their drivers and those traveling with them.  Truckers and trucking companies have a legal duty to maintain their trucks in proper working order.  If the trucking company fails to meet these duties, and an accident results, the trucking company can be held legally accountable.

At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our Miami truck accident attorneys understand the immense dangers of poor maintenance. Maintenance related accidents happen more often than many realize.  Poor maintenance threatens all motor vehicle occupants.  Our attorney team champions the rights of injured clients against the trucking companies or truckers that inflicted their injuries.

FMCSA Maintenance Requirements

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets out some federal mandates for the inspection, maintenance, and repair of heavy trucks. These rules are found in Regulation 396. Under the guidelines, all trucking companies and truckers must maintain their vehicle’s vital parts in working order. The list of vital parts is lengthy and includes tires, brakes, couplings, and almost all other important parts of a trailer or truck.

Trucks must be inspected by a qualified inspector at least once a year. The results of this examination will be included in a Driver Vehicle Examination Report. Trucks that fail basic safety testing will potentially be marked out of order and prevented from returning to commercial use until they are repaired and pass inspection.

Before setting out on the road, truckers must also fulfill basic maintenance duties. The driver must inspect a vehicle before setting out and record the results of this basic inspection in a log.  Items that need to be inspected include: Continue reading →

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Our Tractor Trailer Accident Attorneys Discuss the Effectiveness of Speed Limiters

Over the summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a proposal that would mandate speed limiters on commercial trucks. The proposal suggests that instituting a rule limiting the speed of trucks to 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour.  Before the proposal is adopted and a final number set, however, the proposal will go through a review process.  Thus far, it has already completed the public comment period.  Our truck accident attorneys have found that highway safety advocates worry that the new administration may not take action on the speed limiter proposal.

At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our South Florida 18 wheeler accident lawyers have witnessed firsthand the devastation that a speeding truck can inflict on a smaller passenger motor vehicle. We help truck accident victims seek the financial compensation they are entitled to from the at fault trucker that caused their injuries.  Our firm knows that a serious injury can greatly impact your life and livelihood. We seek to help you achieve financial compensation to mitigate these losses.

Speed Limiters Could Prevent Fatalities

Speed limiters can be installed on heavy trucks, and are already being installed in newer vehicles.  These devices will set a speed cap, not allowing the truck to exceed this rate.  Safety advocates say that speed limiters could help save lives, and their support for this theory lies in simple physics.  The faster a truck is going, the more damage it can inflict.  By slowing down heavy commercial trucks, the incidence of serious or fatal truck accidents should diminish.  Even further, speed limiters would take care of a known problem in the industry—trucks traveling too fast for their tires.  A study released last year found that most truck tires cannot handle speeds over 75 miles per hour, yet many trucks can currently go up to 80 miles per hour. Continue reading →

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Our Truck Accident Attorneys Invite You to Test Your Knowledge of Sharing the Road with Commercial Trucks

According to the United States Department of Transportation, there are an estimated 133 million trucks in operation across the nation. Of these trucks, nearly 130 million are used for commercial purposes.  Odds are you will share the road with a tractor trailer on a daily basis.  Driving next to an 18 wheeler can be frightening due to their sheer size.  It can also be dangerous.  These massive vehicles have large blind spots and could crush smaller passenger vehicles in the event of an accident. Our South Florida truck accident lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano created the quiz below to test your knowledge of sharing the road with commercial trucks. Being aware and following some simple precautions can help you stay safe during your daily commute and other travels.

Q: A big rig is driving to the right of you.  You should:

  • Move so that you are driving behind the truck.
  • Speed up and pass the truck.
  • Slow down or speed up so that you are in view of the trucker’s face in the side mirrors.
  • Switch lanes so you are on the other side of the truck.

 

A: The correct answer is 3. Commercial trucks have large “no zones” or blind spots.  If you cannot see the driver’s face in the side mirrors, the driver probably cannot see you.  Driving behind a truck is dangerous because the trucker cannot see you and you cannot see around the truck.  Passing or switching lanes around a truck should only be done if necessary and with caution. Continue reading →

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The trucking industry recently won a significant victory when lawmakers blocked the adoption of safety rules aimed to keep tired truckers off the roadways—and this may not be their only pushback on safety regulations. The American Trucking Associations has already pledged to return to the Capitol next month when Republicans control the house to try and block state rules requiring additional rest breaks for truckers, beyond those mandated by federal law. The South Florida 18 wheeler accident lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano are concerned that rollbacks of trucking safety laws could lead to more truck accidents. Our firm has assisted thousands of truck accident victims in Florida.  We understand the immense damages a truck accident can inflict and will fight for your maximum financial recovery.

Could More Trucking Safety Laws Rollback?

The federal trucking industry has been heavily regulated for decades due to concerns for public safety. Truckers often carry loads of 80,000 pounds. They traverse roadways across the United States delivering and picking up vital goods.  While truckers perform an important function, they can inflict considerable injuries on the drivers and passengers of smaller motor vehicles.  Due to the potential dangers of large trucks, federal regulations aim to protect other road users and truckers themselves. Continue reading →

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While traveling along Florida’s vast stretch of highways, it is not uncommon to see trucks parked along the side of the interstate. At times, several trucks will park in a row, creating a kind of makeshift truck stop.  Although it is important for truckers to stop when necessary, stopping illegally can present dangers.  Our truck accident attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano advocate on behalf of injured tractor trailer accident victims.  We understand the hazards that illegal truck stops may pose and will do all we can to assist those injured due to this dangerous practice.

Hours of Service Requirements and Illegal Truck Stops

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all truck drivers comply with the hours of service requirements, which limit how much time truckers can spend on duty before stopping to rest.   Under the regulations, truckers must stop driving after 11 hours. To comply with the law, some truckers do exactly that—stop right where they are at the 11-hour mark. This could involve parking illegally on the roadway at night.

It is critical that truckers stop and get the rest they need, but stopping outside of designated truck stops is dangerous.  Travelers are at risk when 18 wheelers park illegally on the shoulder of the interstate.  Most urgently, several large trucks parked near each other could prevent drivers from accessing the emergency shoulder when needed.  Even further, in poor weather conditions or on a windy stretch of roadways, cars could collide with illegally parked trucks.  At times, there have been semi truck accidents stemming from the truck driver’s failure to use the parking brake, allowing the truck to roll down the roadway.  Continue reading →

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The Miami truck accident attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano recognize that drunk and drugged driving continues to be a significant problem in the trucking industry. Truckers spend long hours on the road, often at night. This sometimes leads truckers to ingest stimulant type drugs or drink alcohol while behind the wheel.  Federal regulations have long required trucking companies to drug and alcohol test employees, but information concerning a truck driver’s refusal to take a test or failure of a drug test has never been compiled in one national database.  In turn, there have been several serious accidents involving drivers that had failed drug tests, but employers were unaware of their status due to the localized nature of drug test records.

The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced a final rule calling for the establishment of a national drug and alcohol testing database for commercial truck drivers. The database will contain records for all commercial driver’s license holders who violate the D.O.T.’s drug and alcohol testing regulations. The rule will take effect January 4, 2017, and go into action for employers on January 6.  Continue reading →

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