Florida is a gateway for intrastate, domestic and international commerce so trucks and tractor trailers frequently travel on the state’s roads and highways. Given the size and weight of a typical commercial truck, occupants of smaller vehicles are at a high risk of serious injury in the event of a collision. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation.
Staples, Ellis + Associates P.A. is a premier personal injury law firm serving clients in Pensacola, Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties and throughout Northwest Florida. We are well-versed in the applicable truck safety and traffic laws and have a proven track record of obtaining significant settlements and jury verdicts for our clients. Knowing that truck companies and their insurers often try to deny any liability, we know how to fight back and win.
Common Causes of Florida Truck Accidents
Some of the leading causes of truck and tractor-trailer accidents include:
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Improper loading
- Improper maintenance
- Inexperienced drivers
- Reckless driving
- Poor weather and road conditions
Over our many years of practice, we have handled all types of truck accidents, such as:
- Rollovers — While speeding can cause a truck to roll over, such accidents also frequently occur on steep inclines or when the trucker hits a curb, swerves around objects or other vehicles on the road, or takes curves too fast.
- Jackknifes — If a tractor-trailer axle brakes lock, the trailer may skid, and stop after coming to a 90-degree angle with the trailer.
- Brake failures — Brakes that are improperly installed or poorly maintained can fail while sudden stops cause overheating, increasing the risk of accidents, particularly in heavier trucks and tractor-trailers.
- Runaway trucks — Brakes should be applied in a way that gradually reduces the truck’s speed with each application so that the brakes do not fail. If a trucker uses improper techniques or suddenly slams on the brakes, a runaway truck accident may occur.
- Blind spots — Commercial trucks have larger blind spots along the sides and rear of the truck. Motor vehicle drivers who fail to avoid these so-called ” No-Zone” areas can become involved in an accident.
- Rear-end — Given the weight of the truck and its cargo load, a truck that runs into the back of a smaller vehicle can cause serious injuries to its occupants.
- Under-ride — If a tractor-trailer stops without warning, vehicles traveling behind can become pinned under the rear trailer, resulting in catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
- Wide turn — Such accidents occur when truck drivers underestimate the amount of space needed to complete a turn or fail to notice smaller vehicles in the path of a trailer.
Truck Safety Laws at a Glance
There are a number of state and federal laws governing trucking companies and truck drivers.
First, trucking companies have a legal obligation to ensure that vehicles are properly maintained — braking systems, lights, steering, engine and other mechanical parts must be operating properly. In addition, trucking companies are required to conduct routine maintenance and safety inspections, maintain logs of any inspections and repairs, and make such records available to state and federal authorities. A trucking company that violates these rules can be held liable for accidents that lead to injuries and wrongful death.
Truckers, like other drivers, also have a duty of care to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. However, truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers. Truckers must obtain commercial driver licenses (CDL), have special skills, and follow federal safety laws regarding driving limits and rest breaks. Because truckers must meet strict delivery deadlines while covering long distances, however, they may not abide by driving limit and rest break rules. Moreover, truckers prone to becoming fatigued may be tempted to use stimulants (e.g. methamphetamines) to stay alert. Whether driver fatigue or driving under the influence causes an accident, negligent truckers must be held accountable.
Pensacola, Florida Truck Accident Attorneys
Staples Ellis, with over 70 years of combined experience in personal injury law, routinely handles truck accident cases in North Florida. We are keenly aware that trucking companies and their insurers immediately dispatch their own investigators to crash scenes in an effort to minimize their liability. We have the skills and resources to level the playing field and achieve the best possible outcome for you. By collaborating with a respected network of investigators and accident reconstruction specialists, we work to build a successful case.
We will fight for your right to compensation that covers your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses. If a loved one was killed in a truck accident, we will determine whether there are grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. We believe that negligent trucking companies and truck drivers must be held accountable. We know how to fight — and win! Contact our office as soon as possible to set up a free consultation.