Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

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Our Miami semi-truck accident attorneys recognize that trucking collisions differ from other motor vehicle accidents.  A big-rig crash is not just a collision involving a large vehicle, a collision involving a vehicle that outweighs the other vehicle by 25 times poses special dangers.  When a semi-truck collides with an automobile, any resulting serious injury almost always involves occupants of the other vehicle.  Because trucking companies anticipate potential liability, they frequently are geared up to dispatch investigators to a crash site within a few minutes.  The trucking industry also is notorious for manipulating evidence.  For example, driver logbooks that are used to track hours of service and maintenance are derisively referred to in the industry as “lie books.”  This practice means that the issue of “spoliation” of evidence often arises in trucking litigation.  While spoliation of evidence often is alleged against the trucking company, this blog examines a court decision in which the victim of an unsafe trucker faces these allegations.

In Cook v. Tarbert Logging, Inc., the plaintiff’s pickup was struck by a semi-truck driven by an employee of a logging company.  Several months after the collision, the plaintiff retained an attorney, as well as an expert to examine the pickup.  The expert’s investigation included taking measurements and photos, but the airbag control monitor was not accessed.  This omission became a serious issue because the airbag control monitor could have revealed speeding by the plaintiff at the moment of impact. Continue reading →

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Although the analysis of tractor-trailer accident lawsuits is not new to this blog, this article focuses on a tractor-trailer that was parked at the time of the collision.  The enormous size and weight of semi-trucks create potential dangers even when the vehicles are stationary.  The length and height of a tractor-trailer cause many blind spots for truck drivers, which are referred to as “no zones.”  These vehicles obscure the visibility of other motorists more significantly than a typical passenger car or even a large SUV.  In this blog post, our experienced Miami tractor-trailer accident attorneys examine a Florida Court of Appeals decision involving a collision between a plaintiff and a parked semi-truck.

In Newsome v. LinkAmerica Express, the defendant was the owner and operator of a tractor-trailer.  The truck owner routinely parked his big-rig on the street in front of his home to facilitate frequent use of the vehicle.  On the day of the crash, the plaintiff was traveling on the defendant’s street on the side of the road where the large truck was located.  The plaintiff alleged the sunlight reflecting off the windshield of his vehicle led to him being briefly blinded.  Although the plaintiff slowed his vehicle to cope with the glare, he slammed into the back of the semi-truck because he could not see it in time. Continue reading →

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While it might be tempting to assume commercial carriers step up and compensate trucking accident victims for their injuries, the truth is far more ominous.  Trucking companies recognize they face a heightened risk of liability because of the permanent life-altering injuries and carnage caused by semi-truck crashes.  When a fatigued driver or poorly maintained semi-truck causes a collision between a big-rig and a passenger car, trucking companies rely on investigators that can be dispatched quickly, experienced insurance defense attorneys, industry experts, and extensive litigation resources.  Trucking accident victims sometimes go uncompensated because they lack legal representation.  In this blog, our experienced Miami tractor-trailer accident lawyers review a federal appellate court decision that involves multiple defense strategies often used in trucking accident lawsuits.

There are situations where a truck driver and trucking company have no basis for disputing liability, so the defense will focus on contesting damages as evidenced in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision of Guzman v. Jones.  The plaintiff was injured when his vehicle was struck by a tractor-trailer driven by one defendant and owned by another defendant (the trucking company).  The trucking company conceded liability based on both negligence and vicarious liability (Florida law permits an employer to be held liable for the negligence of an employee for injuries caused in the course and scope of employment). Continue reading →

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While many trucking accidents result from unrealistic shipping schedules, fatigued truck drivers, and poorly maintained big-rigs, improper loads also contribute to a significant number of collisions.  Our Miami trucking accident attorneys recognize that the massive length and weight of a tractor-trailer mean that excessive loads, unbalanced loads, and poorly secured loads often interfere with proper handling and contribute to life-altering tractor-trailer collisions.

Because our Florida semi-truck accident lawyers have extensive experience handling trucking litigation, we can navigate the complexities involved in these sophisticated vehicular lawsuits.  Our law firm has the expertise to navigate the extensive matrix of state and federal trucking regulations, as well as a network of nationally renowned industry experts.  In this blog, we focus on the role of improper loads. Continue reading →

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The prominence of the Internet and popularity of social network sites have dramatically changed the way people live their lives.  It was not so long ago that privacy was so important to people that the notion of allowing others to monitor every aspect of a person’s life would have been viewed as an unreasonable intrusion of privacy.  Social networks have changed these societal norms.  Many people now live in full view of virtual strangers and provide extensive details about every aspect of their daily activities.  Our Miami trucking accident lawyers know that this choice to live one’s life in full view of anyone who will watch and listen can create a serious problem if you are injured in a tractor-trailer accident.

Insurance companies often hire investigators to help them develop negative information about an injury victim that the insurer could use to their advantage in negotiations or at trial.  These investigators regularly search social network sites for information that can be used when defending a personal injury lawsuit. If you have a social network page on Facebook, Twitter or MySpace, you must be very careful about what you post on your site because it may later become evidence in your personal injury lawsuit.  Some examples of how your social network site can hurt your personal injury case might include: Continue reading →

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Our trucking accident lawyers acknowledge that the trucking industry serves an indispensable, logistics role that is essential to the U.S. economy.  Despite this important function, these massive vehicles exact a devastating toll when negligent commercial drivers and indifferent trucking companies fail to exercise reasonable care for the safety of other vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  Whether a trucking accident occurs because a driver is not adequately trained, screened, or supervised or a trucking company fails to perform appropriate vehicle maintenance, tractor-trailer accident victims face special obstacles when seeking financial compensation.  Trucking companies anticipate the prospect of litigation arising out of collisions involving their drivers and big-rigs, and they are prepared to protect their interests.  Litigation of claims against commercial carriers can be complicated by the practice of spoliation of evidence.

The plaintiff in Greenwood Motor Lines, Inc. v. Bush filed a personal injury claim seeking compensation for injuries incurred when a truck driver rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle.  She suffered both neurological and physical injuries which forced her to struggle with pain through the duration of the case.  The plaintiff prevailed in the trial court, but the commercial driver and the trucking company appealed based on alleged error by the trial judge on the issue of spoliation of evidence, as well as grounds of insufficient evidence to support the verdict. Continue reading →

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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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