Truck transport in the United States is responsible for nearly $700 billion dollars in shipped goods. Florida highways are teeming with tractor trailers, box trucks and tankers that increase the risks of accidents that are often associated with higher levels of damages and catastrophic injury to victims.
Common reasons for accidents include:
- Fatigue and distracted driving. Falling asleep at the wheel, or not giving full attention to surroundings while barreling down a highway can cause catastrophic accidents leading to inflated property damages and injuries.
- Size, weight, and height. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. The average car weighs no more than 4,000 pounds and can easily slide beneath a truck. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that around 68 percent of fatalities in truck accidents are people in passenger cars. The center of gravity is higher on a tractor trailer making balance susceptible to weather conditions and cargo loads leading to rollovers or jackknife situations, and underride accidents.
- Reduced braking distances. It takes 40% more braking time for a tractor-trailer to stop compared with a passenger sized vehicle.
- Blind spots. Blind spots are associated with the length of a tractor trailer directly in front, behind and on each side of the truck. When passing a big truck, drivers should consider that if a passenger vehicle cannot see the trucker’s reflection in his rearview mirror, the truck driver probably cannot see the passenger vehicle.
- Cargo load. If cargo is not loaded properly it can shift, making it difficult to safely maneuver the truck and increasing the possibility of a rollover or jackknife.
- Hazmat transport. Commercial trucks frequently transport hazardous materials, including chemicals that can spill out in an accident and cause both environmental and health concerns.
- Delayed or slow start. A big truck needs more time and distance to get up to the speed needed to keep up with the flow of traffic, especially when the tractor-trailer is merging onto a highway or interstate. This can lead to underride situations for other cars, or rear- end accidents.
Accident victims can file a personal injury claim in Florida, but under Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law, costs incurred due to an accident will be paid primarily from a claim against the injured person’s own insurance company to cover non-serious injuries. Florida follows the “pure comparative negligence rule” so if a victim was responsible for any part of the activities that led to injury, compensation will be adjusted in accordance with the percentage of fault assigned to each driver. The statute of limitations for a personal injury car accident claim in Florida is four (4) years. A personal injury attorney can file the necessary paperwork before this time has passed.
Hire a lawyer.
An experienced truck accident attorney can help with the assessment of damages to recover lost wages, loss of income, medical bills, pain and suffering, and in some cases, wrongful death losses to families. They are also familiar with truck industry laws and addressing negligence for mulitple parties when relevant to a case.