Tractor trailers pose serious highway dangers due to their size and height alone, causing rollovers, jackknife situations and car underride accidents. Other factors including the maintenance of the truck, the health of the drivers and company-imposed deadlines placed on drivers increase the frequency of accidents in Florida. Trucks over 10,000 pounds fall into the weight class governed by commercial vehicles and are subject to state and federal laws addressing highway safety for both truckers and other drivers. Contact an experienced accident attorney after a crash with a truck.
Commercial Motor Vehicles require additional liability insurance under Florida Statute 627.7415. Florida Statute 627.7415 State of Florida requirements are that motor vehicles must have current auto insurance coverage with a minimum requirement of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL).
Bodily Injury Insurance. Certain trucks and commercial vehicles in the State of Florida must carry bodily injury liability coverage, which is additional protection against claims from others for personal injuries an accident with a truck. This extra insurance may be necessary if the truck is of a certain gross weight; has three or more axels, owned or driven by a governmental entity, is used for interstate versus intrastate travel and carries a load that may be considered hazardous. Extensive personal injuries, damage and wrongful death often result from accidents involving trucks and tractor trailers due to their increased size and weight above that of a passenger vehicle, reaching the serious injury threshold requirement, allowing for larger monetary settlements.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations govern a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate and/or intrastate commerce to transport property when the vehicle:
- Has a gross vehicular weight rating (GVWR), gross combination weight rating (CGVWR), gross vehicle weight, or gross combination weight of 4,536 kg (10,001 lbs.) or more, whichever is greater; or
- Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous and transported in a quantity that requires a placard.
- Every truck, truck tractor, and vehicle driven in a tow-away operation greater than 10,000 lbs. GVWR/CGVWR must be equipped with: a) a fire extinguisher, b) extra fuses, and c) emergency warning devices for stopped vehicles or emergency reflected triangles.
As an effort to keep trucks safe and reduce roadway incidents routine physical screenings of drivers is mandated and spot checking equipment before each trip is required by drivers. This is important because if an accident occurs some fault may be with the driver if the conditions of the truck were not checked before the trip. The equipment that must be checked before trips includes:
- service brakes, including trailer-brake connections.
- Parking brakes.
- Lighting devices and reflectors.
- Steering mechanisms.
- Tires – it is common for a truck to lose a tire, or for tread to break apart.
- Windshield wipers.
- Coupling devices.
- Wheels and rims.
- Rear mirror.
- Emergency notification markers and equipment.
Liability for injury and damages.
In a case where an injury, damages and/or loss of life occurred as a result of a truck accident, you will need to hire an attorney to investigate and review all of the relevant crash data. A driver who did not inspect the vehicle before getting on the roadway could be responsible, the carrier or owner of the truck could be responsible if they did not properly maintain the vehicle, and there are occasions where parts manufacturers could also bear some responsibility if there was a known defect.