Any truck crash can cause devastating physical injuries, and even death, to occupants of smaller vehicles. Truck drivers, owners and trucking companies may be liable for a crash because of negligence, for example improperly trained drivers, defective rigs or improper loading. A vehicle or parts manufacturer and cargo loader may also be found negligent.
Generally, a large tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler (plus cargo) weighs about 80,000 pounds. If a truck is pulling a second trailer, or in tandem, the weight will be significantly more. Compare this with the average weight of a car at 4,000 pounds - only 5% of a truck's weight. It's easy to see why most deaths in large truck accidents involve the occupants of the smaller passenger vehicles.
When a victim is injured in a truck accident, many parties may be liable for property and victims' injuries, driver error is often a cause of these accidents. These are the primary examples of truck driver negligence that can lead to accidents and injuries:
Distracted driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes rules with associated penalties for texting and using handheld cellphones while driving. Under these federal rules, drivers can face penalties and even disqualification sanctions for texting while driving, and their employers may be fined. Other driver distractions include eating or drinking, grooming and talking to passengers.
Fatigue. Fatigue and the monotony of the long road can cause a driver to lose focus, get drowsy and even fall asleep behind the wheel. Drowsy or fatigued driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence. The FMCSA limits the time a driver can be on the road without taking breaks. Read more in our blog about how electronic monitoring devices can help cut down on drivers who exceed the federal limits.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Driving under the influence is always hazardous, but the dangers are multiplied when the vehicle is a loaded semi weighing up to 80,000 pounds. The FMCSA has established rules under which a truck driver is deemed to drive under the influence that are much stricter than most states including Florida - blood alcohol concentration levels of 0.04% vs. 0.08%. Drunk driving causes poor judgment, vision problems, recklessness and slowed reaction time.
Aggressive driving. When racing against a deadline, truck drivers may drive aggressively including speeding, tailgating, cutting in front of other vehicles and weaving in and out of traffic. These behaviors are not only dangerous but can also distract other drivers.
Health problems. To earn or renew a commercial driver's license, a driver must pass a thorough medical evaluation. But a driver's health can change at any time and conditions including heart issues, diabetes, epilepsy, arthritis, vision and hearing problems and sleep apnea can put the driver at risk of losing control of the truck.
Driver error is not the only cause of tragic truck accidents. Other entities may be liable including the truck or trailer owner, the person or company who leased the truck, the truck or parts manufacturer or the cargo loader. An attorney experienced in truck accidents can help determine liability for any injuries.Let Us Know if You Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident
If you or a family member has been injured in a truck accident or in a car accident or any other personal injuries resulting from the negligence of others, contact the Law Offices of Diana Santa Maria, P.A. immediately. Our experienced attorneys will fight for the compensation you deserve. Please call us for a free consultation. We will fight to secure justice for you and your family. You can reach us at (954) 434-1077.