Any Florida truck accident involves complex issues of jurisdiction, interstate versus intrastate commerce, insurance requirements, and, ultimately, fault. They are subject to incredible scrutiny due to the significant financial impacts of accidents, and, in the worst-case scenario, injuries and loss of life. If you’re involved in a truck accident in West Palm Beach, then you’ll need a West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer.
One of the first steps in the aftermath of such an event is to determine if the vehicle was involved in interstate commerce (i.e. between states) or intrastate commerce (i.e. solely within the state of Florida). This is crucial when it comes to ascertaining whether the truck falls under federal or state regulations, as well as determining the amount of insurance owners must, by law, carry.
Typically, trucks that transport cargo across state lines are deemed to be involved in interstate commerce. Therefore, they must follow rules and regulations of the US Department of Transportation and the Department of Commerce. If they are transporting cargo solely within the state lines, then they fall under the purview of the Florida Department of Transportation or FDOT.
Regardless of the interstate vs. intrastate distinction, any person involved in an incident with a multi-ton commercial vehicle should seek the counsel of an experienced West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer.
West Palm Beach Truck Accident Liability Issues
For a variety of reasons, truck accidents are often more complex than other motor vehicle accidents. In addition to questions of jurisdiction, we need to examine factors such as:
- Driver training
- Driver’s safety record*
- Weight capacity
- Braking capacity
- Driver training
- Driver fatigue
- Truck maintenance records
- Turning radius
- Load restrictions
*Note: if the driver has a history of accidents or other red flags on his/her record, then the company can be held vicariously liable for hiring him/her and allowing him/her to operate.
The question of ownership must also be answered. Oftentimes, the owner of the truck and the driver are not the same people. This has ramifications when it comes to liability. If a driver causes an accident because he/she is fatigued, for example, there could be a liability for that individual; if he/she was pressured by the trucking owner/company to falsify driving logs, though, they also bear responsibility.
As experienced truck accident lawyers in West Palm Beach, we have handled myriad cases dealing with these complex issues and will help you build a compelling case against the driver and owner responsible for your injuries.
If the driver was an employee of the company and was working within the scope of their employment, then the owner may be held vicariously liable.
Trucking Accidents: Insurance Laws
Both federal and state laws mandate that all commercial trucks carry minimum liability insurance.
- Federal Law. The amount of minimum liability insurance required depends on the type of cargo and its potential to harm others if there is an accident. For example, a truck weighing 10,000 pounds or less carrying non-hazardous materials carries $300,000 in coverage, while one carrying hazardous materials must have up to $5,000,000.
- Florida Law. Here too, coverage requirements are determined by the type of cargo, the weight of the truck, and other factors. For example, trucks carrying oil and/or petroleum products must have coverage of $1,000,000, while it is $300,000 for household goods and furniture, $750,000 for general, non-hazardous cargo, and $5,000,000 for hazardous materials.
Yes, these are high dollar policies; but the potential for significant damage, danger, injury, and loss of life are also higher when it comes to these multi-ton trucks. These policies are there, in part, to protect you. If the owner/company does not have sufficient insurance or if their providers are fighting to reduce or deny a fair payout, contact a CTL West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer.
Federal Protections: The Electronic Code of Federal Regulations
The Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) provides protections for victims involved in trucking accidents, including:
- Emergency Signals. If a truck is stopped on the shoulder or traveled portion of the highway, the driver must activate their hazard warning signal flashers. These must stay on until the driver puts required warning devices near the truck to alert others on the road.
- Emergency Equipment. A driver or owner must have the required standard emergency signals and equipment.
- Cargo Inspection. The owner/driver of the truck must ensure that the cargo is properly distributed and secured; the truck’s tailgate, tailboard, doors, spare tire, tarps, etc., must be securely fastened; and the driver’s view ahead and to the left and right are unobscured.
- Sick or Tired Driver. If fatigue or illness impairs the driver’s ability to operate safely, he/she must not continue to work.
These laws are intended to protect the public. When drivers/owners do not comply, it can have catastrophic results.
Assessing Liability In Trucking Accidents
Our team of truck accident lawyers in West Palm Beach will help you prove that the truck driver and/or owner was negligent. They have a duty of care; we must show that there was a breach of duty, and that breach caused your injuries.
Contact Clayton Trial Lawyers
Accidents involving commercial vehicles are complex; it is paramount that we assess the situation, determine liability issues, investigate whether or not the driver and/or owner complied with applicable federal or state regulations, and how negligence led to your injuries. CTL’s truck accident lawyers in West Palm Beach have the experience, and tenacity, you need to pursue fair and appropriate compensation for your injuries.
We fight with you, and we fight for you. Contact Clayton Trial Lawyers for a free case evaluation.