On April, 18, 2018, a school bus with 18 student passengers was struck by a semi-truck in Hernando County, Florida. The Florida Highway Patrol reports that the truck was coming off I-75 when it failed to stoop at a red light and struck the side of a school bus. The school bus spun, flipped on its side, and slid nearly 50 yards before finally coming to a stop.
Miraculously, only six students had minor injuries and everyone else was okay. Why the truck driver did not stop is unknown, but he will face charges for running the red light, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Unfortunately, accidents like these are more common than we would like to think.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shared statistics from 2015 showing that there were 138,000 injuries that year and more than 4,300 fatalities due to those injuries. Nearly 85% of the fatalities were the motorists in other vehicles, not the drivers of the semi-trucks. Considering these statistics, that means that some 15 people are injured in a car/semi-truck accident every minute in the United States.
Most Common Causes of Truck Driving Accidents
Accidents involving semi-trucks are typically much more dangerous than a regular car crash because of the massive weight and size of the vehicle. An average 18-wheeler can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds vs. an average car that weighs only 4,000 pounds. It is easy to see why these types of accidents can lead to severe injuries and death. Understanding the most common causes for semi-truck accidents may help protect you while sharing the road with these big trucks.
- Driver Error: Despite their extra training and increased responsibility to drive safely, truck drivers are still average people and make mistakes. They may drive drunk, drowsy, recklessly, or distracted. Studies, however, show that only 22% of trucking accidents are due to the negligence of the truck driver.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance: Commercial truckers drive hundreds, even thousands, of miles each day. It is important that the drivers and companies of the trucks regularly maintain the vehicles. Equipment failure, such as a cracked windshield or worn brake pads, can cause a major traffic accident.
- Equipment Failure: While maintaining the truck is important, even proper maintenance and careful driving can not prevent all accidents. If equipment manufacturers produce defective or dangerous parts for a truck, this can lead to a catastrophic accident, as well.
- Inclement Weather: If a truck driver is not adequately prepared and trained to drive in certain conditions, certain inclement weather like rain, snow, and ice, can be tricky for truckers to travel on. Truckers must be certain to travel at speeds that are appropriate for the conditions in which they are driving.
- Improper Cargo Loading: Cargo loading teams must abide by specific rules when it comes to loading a semi-truck. There are height, weight, size, width, and length limits for every road, as well as specific methods for securing the cargo. Mistakes or negligence in following these procedures can cause a load to fall of leading to major accidents.
Who is Responsible?
When it comes to figuring out the responsible party in a semi-truck accident, there are always a variety of parties that could be held responsible for the victims’ injuries. Those include the following:
- The truck’s driver.
- The owner of the trailer or truck.
- The company or person that leased the trailer or truck from the owner.
- The manufacturer of the tires, vehicle, or other parts that may have contributed to the severity or cause of the accident.
- The loader or shipper of the truck’s cargo if the case involves improper loading.
The parties involved often argue over whose insurance will have to compensate the victim for the injuries, but an experienced attorney can help you get the damages you deserve from any of the parties that might have been negligent.
After determining who is the negligent party in the accident, the next thing to consider is what damages and expenses you can be compensated for. These can include the following:
- Medical expenses such as hospital visits, ambulance fees, doctor visits, rehabilitation expenses, and in-home care.
- Lost wages due to any lost work or pay caused by the accident and follow-up healthcare appointments.
- Pain and suffering caused by the physical and mental distress of the pain, stress, and anxiety resulting from the accident.
- Lost earning capacity if you have lost the ability to earn money in the future due to disabilities and impairments from the injuries you sustained.
- Loss of companionship if your injuries had a negative effect on your marriage, or in some wrongful death cases, the loss of a loved one.
Seek the Advice of an Attorney
Accidents involving commercial trucks and be extremely complicated. The cases stemming from a truck accident can involve negligence, product liability issues, and personal injuries. Because of this, it is in your best interest to seek the advice of a knowledgeable attorney who has experience with these types of cases.
In Florida, depending on the situation surrounding the accident, there can be a time limit to file a lawsuit (called a statute of limitations) that is as short as two years from the date of the accident, which is why it is imperative to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Sorting out all the issues surrounding truck accidents can be complex and take time. The attorneys at Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm have the experience to sort out all the facts and determine the plan of action that is best for your case.