Let Our Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Attorneys Pursue Justice for You
Each year in the United States, there are more than 500,000 accidents involving large trucks commonly referred to as tractor trailers or “18-Wheelers”. Accidents involving these large trucks usually involve significant property damage and injuries due to the large size and incredible weight of these trucks, particularly when they are loaded with merchandise, vehicles or equipment. Even a so-called “low impact” accident in which an 18-Wheeler strikes another vehicle traveling at low speeds, can result in debilitating injuries. If you have been injured in a trucking accident, your best chance at receiving top compensation is to contact a Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer.
How the Government Tries to Prevent Truck Accidents
The primary authority for trucking regulations is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). The FMCSA is also known as the truck and bus “Safety Agency”. The FMCSA’s primary mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles including 18-Wheelers and buses. FMCSA requires trucking companies and their drivers to ensure the safety of their trucks. Safety inspections need to be performed on a daily basis. The loading of the trucks is also critically important as the weight on the trailer must be properly distributed and secured to avoid an 18-Wheeler rolling over during an accident.
DOT and FMCSA have established guidelines to ensure that trucking companies that operate such large vehicles on the highways operate them safely. The Department of Transportation conducts random checks and audits with trucking companies to ensure that the trucking companies are complying with the many DOT regulations. If it is found that a trucking company has not complied with the Department of Transportation and FMCSA regulations, the company can be hit with very large fines. In fact, the FMCSA levies hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines each year for violations of the DOT regulations. Among other things, the regulations require:
- A systematic inspection, repair and maintenance of all vehicles;
- The drivers hold Commercial Driver’s Licenses and for bus drivers, Commercial Driver’s Licenses with a “passenger” endorsement;
- The drivers hold valid medical certificates;
- The company has a driver drug/alcohol testing program that complies with the Department of Transportation regulations;
- The trucking company put limits on how long a driver may drive, basically not more than ten (10) hours following eight (8) consecutive hours of being off duty; and
- The trucking company’s drivers exceed the “70 hour rule”, which limits drivers to seventy (70) hours of work/driving time within eight (8) consecutive days.
These rules were created in order to make sure truck drivers are properly trained and aren’t facing circumstances that can lead to an accident. That said, negligence is still far too common. Since it’s possible for you to sue the truck driver and his/her place of employment, it’s best to contact a Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer to make sure you make a claim for all possible compensation.
Conditions that May Cause an 18-Wheeler Accident
There are many ways that you, when driving your automobile or SUV can become involved in an 18-wheeler accident. An 18-wheel tractor trailer is commonly known as an 18-wheeler. When fully loaded, an 18-wheeler can weigh as much as 10 times as much as some automobiles and you don’t need a degree in physics to imagine the catastrophic damages that can occur in a collision. There are three types of 18-wheeler accidents that cause the highest percentage of fatalities on our Florida highways.
“Rear-Ending” a Parked 18-Wheeler
One of the most violent collisions that can occur when driving on Florida’s main artillery highways like I-95 or I-10 is when a passenger vehicle smashes into the back of a parked 18-wheeler. Tractor trailers sometimes have to make stops along the side of the road for repairs like fixing a flat tire and there is not always enough shoulder to accommodate the width of the truck. An oncoming motor vehicle can clip one half to two thirds of the right side of their car on the rear left of the trailer and shear the upper half of the car clean off. These collisions usually happen when the car is traveling at high speed as the stopped tractor trailer is completely unexpected.
When an 18-wheeler has to make a right hand turn on a city or local road it first has to pull into the left-hand land to accommodate the length of the vehicle and its’ turning radius. Impatient motor vehicle operators often fail to observe the right turn signal and try to pass the 18-wheeler on the right just as the truck is about to make the turn. When this occurs the back half of the trailer will run right over top of the vehicle like a mere bump in the road, crushing and killing the inhabitants of the automobile.
Improper Loading of Tractor Trailer
If an 18-wheeler is not loaded properly and the cargo secured to the floor of the trailer, the load can shift when the vehicle goes around a bend in the highway causing the vehicle to tip-over. If you are in a motor vehicle on the side of the tractor trailer when such a load shift occurs you could be forced off of the highway or crushed beneath the load of the trailer.
How Your Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Attorney Will Prove Liability
It is critical in evaluating a trucking accident to evaluate whether the trucking company, and its driver complied with all DOT regulations. It is also critical to investigate whether the trucking company itself has been the focus of a FMCSA investigation, whether it has ever previously been fined by the FMCSA, or whether it was fined as a result of your trucking accident. Information collected by the FMCSA can provide valuable insight as to the cause of an accident.
A trucking accident needs to be thoroughly investigated immediately after the accident happens. With time, witnesses disappear and memories fade, and valuable evidence can be lost. To properly investigate a trucking accident, your Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer will review the minimum safety standards that trucking and motor coach companies must follow for operation of their vehicles, and the physical qualifications and operating rules for their drivers. Another valuable source of information on trucking accidents is the “black box” which is often found in newer models of trucks. It can reveal information on the speed, weight and maintenance of the truck. However, it requires a party to move quickly before it is destroyed in order to obtain as much information about the trucking accident as possible.
Get the Legal Help You Need. Call the Maus Law Firm Today!
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a South Florida accident involving an 18-wheeler or other truck, please give the Maus Law Firm a call. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable in all aspects of suing the insurance company of the company that owns the tractor trailer and/or the company that makes the products that they are carrying. We will leave no stone unturned in order to prove the negligence of the driver or the company involved in the accident.