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.
While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) is the federal agency primarily responsible for regulation of commercial carriers engaged in interstate commerce (i.e. across state lines), state regulations govern commercial carriers and drivers that operate exclusively within Florida. Many of these trucking regulations are designed to mitigate the risk to others on the roadways in terms of truck handling, braking and visibility while imposing special safety rules for truckers.
Some of the trucking regulations that may constitute a basis for a finding of negligence by a trucking company or a Florida truck driver include:
• Standards regarding safety inspections and vehicle maintenance • Mandatory testing for impairing substances like alcohol or drugs
• Anti-fatigue rules also called hours of service rules • Pre-employment screening requirements • Random drug testing • Stricter rules for alcohol use prior to driving for those with a commercial license • Ban on texting and driving unless using a Bluetooth device
When trucking industry safety regulations like these are violated, the result for other motorists can be devastating. Attorneys who regularly represent individuals injured in Florida trucking accidents must be well-versed in state and federal trucking regulations and well as standard industry customs and practices.
Evidentiary Issues in Trucking Cases
Because the risk of liability from accidents involving commercial drivers is a common threat to the bottom line of trucking companies, they are well equipped to defend trucking accident lawsuits. While federal law requires extensive recordkeeping that should ease the burden of proving negligence by drivers and commercial carriers, these records are often inaccurate. Truck driver logbooks are so routinely doctored that they are commonly referred to the in the trucking industry as “lie books.”
Because of such practices, trucking accident lawyers must be proactive about obtaining other records like fuel receipts, lodging records, tire invoices, GPS data, personnel records and other evidence to establish a lack of adequate care for the safety of others on the road. We often take immediate precautions to prevent the repair of a big-rig before our accident reconstruction experts can view the truck for physical clues about the cause and mechanisms involved in our clients’ injuries. Our Miami trucking accident attorneys also move promptly to obtain event data recorder (also referred to as “black box) information that can provide critical information about the operation of the vehicle prior to the crash, hours of service violations, maintenance-related mechanical issues, communication between the driver and commercial carrier and other information that will allow us to build a compelling case for our clients.
Pursuing the Maximum Recovery for Florida Trucking Accident Victims
IMPORTANT TIP: In each and every case our office handles we make it a practice to go over each and every complaint our client has from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet. We do this because patients fail to tell their physician all of their complaints, thinking that what they are feeling is not related to the injuries received in their case. We are not doctors but we explain to the client to let the doctor know because he/she may feel that there is a relation. For example, a person complaining of lower back pain may not tell their doctor that they are having tingling or numbness in their leg. By telling the doctor this, they can examine the patient and determine the cause of the complaint.
Our Miami tractor-trailer accident lawyers have handles dozens of Florida trucking accidents resulting in death and significant injury. We have recovered from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for these claims. If you or a loved one is injured in a trucking accident, we invite you to contact the South Florida law office of Greenberg Stone and Urbano today. For over 120 collective years, we have aggressively represented the victims of trucking accidents across South Florida. Our commitment to excellence in providing legal services has earned us an “AV” rating from Martindale Hubbell, and it is why we have been asked to join Primerus, an international society of leading law firms. Moreover, the Miami Herald voted us as one of the top-rated South Florida law firms, and, we have earned the title of “Superlawyers,” designating us as being among the best lawyers in America. We want to put this dedication to work for you, so call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule an initial consultation either in our main office, your home or hospital, or at one of the offices were we see client’s by appointment.