Accidents involving semi-trucks and cars can have catastrophic results. Drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer risk permanent injury, paralysis, or even death. The risk is greater if the truck is carrying dangerous or hazardous substances.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, you should consult with an experienced attorney, as these cases are very different from those involving cars and other non-commercial vehicles.
Who is at fault for a Trucking Accident?
In Florida determining fault when an accident involves a big rig can be challenging. Depending on the circumstances, one or more entities may be held liable for the accident and any injuries sustained.
For example, if the trucker was driving recklessly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may be personally responsible; however, if the accident was caused by a problem with the truck’s engine a company may be to blame if they failed to deliver routine maintenance. When attempting to evaluate whether a truck driver is accountable, a number of factors may be taken into consideration, including:
- Whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor
- Whether the driver was driving recklessly, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Whether or not the driver was operating the vehicle within the scope of employment, or if they were using it for their own personal travel or needs
- How many hours the driver was scheduled and if the time phrase was reasonable or excessive
When Is the Trucking Company Liable for an Accident?
Trucking companies may be held liable if specific circumstances like inadequate vehicle maintenance, over-scheduling, or careless hiring practices contributed to the accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict maintenance and inspection rules that trucking companies must follow. If the company doesn’t conduct these inspections and doesn’t follow the maintenance guidelines, it may be held accountable if an accident occurs as a result of poor vehicle maintenance.
The FMCSA provides guidance on driver scheduling as well. Overscheduling is the act of setting a driving schedule that exceeds the 11-hour, 14-hour, and 60–70 hour limits. Overworked truck drivers are more likely to make mistakes on the road, endangering both themselves and others. Likewise, businesses have a duty to employ licensed and competent drivers in addition to maintaining their fleets of vehicles and enforcing reasonable driver schedules. Companies that hire inexperienced drivers or fail to provide proper training may be held responsible for accidents.
If you or a loved one was wounded in a truck accident, you need the help of an experienced truck accident attorney. The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Leonard J. Valdes will determine who was at fault for your accident and pursue financial restitution for damages. To learn more about your legal options, call right away to schedule a free consultation.