In 2019, nearly 350 people were killed on Florida roads in crashes that involved large commercial trucks and trucking companies. That accounts for more than 1 in 10 traffic fatalities in the Sunshine State. Large commercial trucks with fully loaded trailers can weigh 20 times more than the average car. The sheer size and weight of large trucks is enough to injure or kill multiple people on a busy Florida roadway. In addition, it can back up traffic for several hours and increase the risk of further crashes occurring.
Trucking companies often pay high premiums to their insurers. That's because large trucks pose a significant liability to insurance companies. In addition, trucking companies and the drivers they employ must follow strict federal guidelines. For example:
- Trucking companies must maintain and inspect all commercial vehicles. Records of repairs and inspections must also be kept.
- Truck drivers must comply with the federal hours-of-service regulations. The maximum amount of time drivers can spend on the road is 11 hours within a 14-hour shift. In addition, they must take 10 consecutive hours off from work in between shifts and take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 consecutive hours.
- Truck drivers can't report to duty or operate a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. It's illegal for truck drivers to operate with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 percent. That's half the BAC limit of 0.08 percent for non-commercial drivers.
Common types of injuries sustained in truck accidents
Serious injuries can occur in any type of roadway incident but are far more prevalent in truck accidents. At the Law Offices of Scott M. Miller, the most common injuries we see in truck accidents include:
- Amputations. Amputations often occur when a car becomes crushed or caved in. These injuries are often life-changing and are likely to cause crash victims to give up certain careers or activities. In addition, people who suffer from amputations often experience serious mental and emotional distress.
- Burns. Crashes involving large commercial trucks often result in fires. Burns in these types of crashes are often deadly, but those who survive can face serious pain, scarring, disfigurement and loss of a body part.
- Lacerations. Lacerations that occur in truck accidents are often far worse than a minor cut. Crash victims often suffer significant blood loss and/or damage to internal organs. In addition, a laceration can become infected and result in a life-threatening medical condition.
- Skull fractures and serious TBIs. The impact of a truck accident can result in a skull fracture or other serious traumatic brain injury (TBI). Severe TBIs often result in loss of consciousness, permanent brain damage, paralysis, comas or death.
How trucking companies are investigated
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, you're up against a trucking company with deep pockets and their insurers. Trucking companies and their insurers often have the resources they need to protect their bottom line. For example:
- Trucking companies will deploy their own team of investigators and adjustors to the scene of a crash within hours. The results are often skewed in their favor.
- Insurance companies will hire the best attorneys money can buy to pay crash victims as little as possible.
The last thing you want to do is handle a truck accident case on your own. You need a strong legal advocate on your side who can launch an aggressive and in-depth investigation. Here's what an attorney at the Law Offices of Scott M. Miller will do:
Get access to hours-of-service (HOS) logs
Drivers must keep records of the hours they spend on the road. Sometimes they exceed the 11-hour limit set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration because they are pushed by their employers to make more deliveries. If the driver who hit you violated the HOS rule, our attorneys can prove it by getting access to the logs. We'll review these logs and look for inaccuracies.
Get access to the truck's "black box"
Data recorders (also known as black boxes) are installed in large commercial trucks. They record the truck speed, steering and braking. Our attorneys can get access to the black box and look for evidence that the driver was speeding or driving recklessly in the moments leading to the crash.
Examine maintenance and inspection records
Trucking companies must provide documentation of repairs, maintenance and inspections to their vehicles. Records can indicate whether or not a trucking company ensured the safety of its vehicles. Moreover, a lack of these records can indicate that a trucking company is hiding wrongdoing.
Examine the hiring and supervision of drivers
Trucking companies are responsible for the drivers they hire. For example, they must only hire drivers who have completed truck driving school and possess a commercial driver's license. In addition, they are expected to hire drivers who are skilled, experienced and have clean driving records. If the driver who hit you was unqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle, our attorneys will get to the bottom of it.
Get statements from witnesses
Witness statements can be cross-referenced with other evidence that our attorneys collect. For example, a witness may have seen the driver behave erratically or the brakes give out in the moments leading to the crash. These incidents are sometimes captured on a dashcam.
What should I do if I was involved in a truck accident?
It's critical that you speak to an experienced attorney who knows how to handle truck accident cases and get results. In Florida, you have four years from the date of the crash to file a claim, but the sooner you act, the stronger your case will be. That's because evidence can disappear quickly.
It's also important that you be patient and let your attorney build your case. It may be tempting to take a quick settlement from an insurance company when you're financially hurting. If you accept a settlement without an accurate value on your claim, however, you won't be able to pursue additional damages. The settlement you receive may only cover a fraction of your damages, as well. An attorney at the Law Offices of Scott M. Miller, PLLC can tally up your damages, place an accurate value on your claim, and fight to help you recover every penny owed to you. Your case can take several months or years to resolve.
To get started on your claim, contact our Longwood law office and set up your free legal consultation. Our law firm serves clients in the greater Orlando area. You only pay for our legal services if you're case is resolved and you're fully compensated.