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Trucking Accidents

After a Florida truck accident, one of the first factors to determine is whether the truck was being used in interstate commerce (between states) or was involved in intrastate commerce (travel only within Florida). Generally, if a truck is being used to transport cargo across a state line then that truck is usually considered to be engaged in interstate commerce and is subject to the rules and regulations established by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Commerce. Alternatively, a truck being used to transport cargo within Florida – that does not cross a state line — is considered to be an intrastate truck and its operations are governed by the Florida Department of Transportation (“FDOT”). Distinguishing between interstate and intrastate trucking is of critical importance when it comes to the amounts of insurance that truck owners are required to carry.

Truck accidents have certain that that are unique to these cases. Such as: site lines; driver training; truck turning radius and load restrictions; weight capacity, braking capacity; maintenance records; and driver restfulness, often play a role in truck accident cases. Many times, the driver and truck owner will — not — be the same person, which plays a big role in liability or responsibility. For example, the owner of the truck could have separate liability for creating an atmosphere where a truck becomes overloaded. Having handled these cases, we can anticipate issues that have arisen before and help you make a better case against the operator and owner of the truck that caused your injuries.

Trucking Insurance Laws

Federal law specifies any truck engaged in interstate commerce (between states) is required to have the minimum liability insurance. These insurance requirements are based on the type of cargo or freight being transported and its potential to cause harm to others in case of an accident. They vary from $300,000 for non-hazardous material transported by trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or less and up to $5,000,000 for dangerous/hazardous materials, which require special handling.

Florida law also requires all commercial trucks operating solely within this state to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. The amount of insurance coverage is based on factors such as the type of cargo being transported and the truck’s weight. Examples of cargo types and their minimum liability insurance requirements include:

  • Oil and/or petroleum products: $1,000,000
  • Household goods and furniture: $300,000
  • General (non-hazardous) freight/cargo: $750,000
  • Hazardous materials: $5,000,000

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”)

The federal regulations also provide many standards and protections for victims such as:

  • Emergency Signals: When a commercial motor vehicleis stopped upon the traveled portion of a highway or the shoulder of a highway for any cause (other than necessary traffic stops), the driver of the stopped commercial motor vehicle shall immediately activate the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers and continue the flashing until the driver places certain warning devices required the Federal Regulations.
  • Emergency Equipment: No commercial motor vehicle shall be driven unless the driver or owner has met the standard of having emergency signals or equipment required the CFR in place and ready for use; the driver or operator is required to make use of such equipment when and as needed.
  • Inspection of Cargo: A driver cannot operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier cannot require or allow a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle unless: (i) the truck’s cargo is properly distributed and adequately secured, (ii) the commercial motor vehicle’s tailgate, tailboard, doors, tarpaulins, spare tire and other equipment used in its operation, and the means of fastening the commercial motor vehicle’s cargo, are secured, and (iii) the commercial motor vehicle’s cargo or any other object does not block or obscure the driver’s view ahead or to the right or left sides.
  • Ill or Fatigued Operator: No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle.

These are just a few protections the Federal Regulations. Further, an experienced attorney should be aware of all the other protections available to victims.

Determining Liability for a Trucking Accident

If you can establish by the greater weight of the evidence (only 51 vs. 49 is needed) that the truck driver was negligent, then you can recover compensation from a truck driver and owner. You will need to prove several factors: the duty of the truck driver; a breach of that duty, causation between the negligence and injuries, and actual damages.

Truck Accident Investigation

The truck’s owner could be a public entity or a private company. In many instances, both the owner and driver will responsible or liable for the injuries caused. In some cases, only one may responsible. It is important to determine if the driver is an employee of the company, and is performing an activity that is within the scope and course of their employment at the time of the crash or injury. If so, then the truck owner may be vicariously liable for the truck driver’s negligence.

Truck Driver or Operators Must Be Qualified

Trucking companies are required to hire qualified drivers. Those drivers should have clear background checks and sufficient safety training. If you discover that a truck driver has a history of accidents or does not follow the correct safety procedures, then this failure raises the question of whether the trucking company has failed to properly train and hire a qualified operator or driver.

In many cases, it is crucial to get an expert to determine the cause of a trucking accident. If any of the hydraulic mechanisms or some other part of the truck is defective or loses control because of a manufacturing error or design, it may be necessary to file suit against the manufacturer of the component or truck for damages.

Why choose Clayton Trial Lawyers for your Personal Injury Lawsuit

Experienced CTL attorneys can anticipate issues that have arisen and seek discovery and investigation that can help make the case against the truck driver, owner, or manufacturing company that caused your injuries and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.