Articles Posted in Trucking Accidents

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Unless you have been involved in a high stakes injury trial, you are probably unfamiliar with the terms “remittitur” and “additur.” They aren’t common knowledge, but they can have a substantial impact on any personal injury lawsuit.

In Florida, remittitur and additur come into play after the jury has rendered a verdict. Either side can ask the judge for a remittitur (a reduction of damages, usually by motion of the defense) or an additur (additional damages awarded, usually by motion of the plaintiff). The judge has discretion to decide whether such a request is appropriate. Some of the things the judge will consider include:

  • Whether jurors obviously ignored evidence or facts presented at trial;
  • Whether there is a reasonable connection between the evidence and amount of the verdict award;
  • Whether the award was too small or too big because of some prejudice or bias;
  • Whether the verdict is logical based on the evidence.

F.S. 768.74 is what governs judicial power on this. It’s an element of a case cannot be ignored, as it can significantly impact the amount you receive following a serious injury. Remittiturs and additurs can also be subject to appeal. Statutes on this power vary from state-to-state.  Continue reading →

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The overall number of traffic accidents and roadway deaths is climbing. This in itself is troubling. But our trucking accident lawyers in Orlando are especially concerned about the uptick in crashes involving large trucks. 

These vehicles are massive. The damage they cause is substantial. Though they may occur less frequently than crashes involving smaller passenger cars, that’s really only because there are statistically fewer of them than smaller cars. When large trucks are involved in a crash, the injuries tend to be more severe. Fatalities are more likely.

Recently just outside of Orlando, one person died and another was left severely injured following a dump truck crash resulting in a fuel leak on a Thursday morning. The large truck was driven by a 56-year-old who made a U-turn at Fort Jefferson Boulevard from South Goldenrod Road. According to the highway patrol, a 30-year-old driver of a passenger vehicle, who had a 33-year-old passenger with him, was unable to stop in time to avoid a collision. He slammed into the dump truck. Both passenger vehicle occupants were rushed to the hospital, where the driver died.  Continue reading →

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Federal regulators are seeking to forcibly lower the speeds of semi-trucks, buses and other large vehicles by installed devices that would cap their top speed. The measure has been proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It would set the maximum speed for these large vehicles at either 60 mph, 65 mph or 68 mph, depending on the feedback they receive from the public. 

Top NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind called the theory behind the proposal, “Basic physics.” That is, the faster a vehicle travels, the greater force the impact is going to be. When we’re talking about vehicles this large, the potential for damage is astronomical. In fact, regulators say that if this proposal is adopted, it has the potential to save somewhere between 162 to 500 lives every year. That could mean as many as half of the 1,000 people who die every year in accidents caused by speeding large trucks. What’s more, it could reduce the number of serious injuries by 550 or so while slashing the number of minor injuries by as much as 10,300 a year. Not only that, but the agency estimates it could means fuel savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions that would total nearly $850 million a  year.

Unsurprisingly, some in the trucking industry is not enthused. There has been grumbling about the fact that truckers would need to be on the road longer and this will mean not just reduced profits for trucking firms, but also lower efficiency in many other economic sectors.  Continue reading →

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Improper loading on large trucks can cause horrific trucking accidents that can result in serious injury or death. Motorists shouldn’t have to dodge large trucks because debris is flying off the back or the vehicle is swerving because the loads are off-balance. 

A truck traveling at highway speeds can be thrown off-balance even even by a seemingly small object or boxes shifting inside.

In cases where improper loading causes a crash, victims deserve to be fully compensated to the greatest extent possible.  Continue reading →

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Injuries and deaths that occur in the course and scope of a victims’ employment are generally compensable under state workers’ compensation laws. These laws have provision of “exclusive remedy,” which do not allow victims to pursue additional lawsuits against the employer or its agents. 

In a case recently before the Missouri Supreme Court, plaintiffs tried to hold accountable the supervisors of a commercial trucker for negligence resulting in his death. Plaintiffs in Parr v. Breeden alleged that the supervisors’ negligence breached duties that arose from federal regulations – which were separate and distinct from the employer’s nondelegable duty to provide a safe working environment to its workers.

Had the court adopted this argument, it would have opened the door for claims against individual co-workers and supervisors in cases where federal regulations were violated. However, that did not happen. The court ruled that defendants’ alleged negligence were part of their workplace duties, and the violation of federal laws did not mean there was a separate personal duty that was distinct from their workplace duties.  Continue reading →

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When there is a multi-vehicle, chain reaction accident, conclusions regarding liability can be difficult to reach. Because multi-vehicle accidents usually involve high insurance payouts, insurance companies typically assign trained accident investigators to examine the facts of each claim.

Often, it comes down to who was in the rear (as drivers are expected to maintain a safe driving distance), whether speed, distraction or alcohol was involved and the time and distance between one accident and another. Insurance companies may view pileups as several individual accidents, depending on the circumstances.

In the case of Baumann v. Zhukov, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit was asked to weigh liability in a fatal truck accident that killed a father, pregnant mother and two young children in two separate vehicles that were struck by a fatigued truck driver that failed to stop with the rest of traffic that was backed up on the highway from an earlier crash. Continue reading →

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The trucking industry has gotten very savvy when it comes to insulating itself from liability stemming from trucking accidents.

These companies know that because of the sheer size of these vehicles, collisions cause severe injuries and major damage. They also recognize the principle of vicarious liability holds employers responsible for the negligent actions of employees, or vehicle owners for the negligent operation of those vehicles.

So the industry has become extremely fragmented. Most truck drivers are independent contractors. The rigs are owned separately from the trailer and often the load being hauled is owned by yet another entity. Then there is usually an agency that arranges those connections.

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Back in July, President Obama signed MAP-21 of “Move Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.” This was the bill that authorized more than $100 billion for transportation improvements over the next two fiscal years. This is the first long-term highway authorization act since 2005.

Our Fort Lauderdale trucking accident attorneys understand that there are quite a few safety improvements that the U.S. and the State of Florida need to help to reduce the number of these serious accidents. The initiatives that come along with MAP-21 include new databases for drug testing results, better driver’s education requirements, a review of minimum insurance levels and more efficient electronic logging of drive time.

“These rules, along with the new drug and alcohol database, will go a long way towards reducing truck/car fatalities in America,” said Steve Owings with RoadSafe America.

RoadSafe America celebrated its 200th donor in September, but there’s still a long way to go. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), there are close to 4,000 people who are killed in traffic accidents with commercial trucks every year. In addition to these fatalities, there were close to 100,000 people injured. This year’s MAP-21 is headed in the right direction, but it’s not going to satisfy safety advocates.

Adaptive Cruise Control: This system should be implemented on all trucks. What it does is slows a truck as it approaches heavy and congested traffic.

Hair Follicle Testing: By using these kinds of drug tests, drivers would have a lot tougher time faking their drug tests. Pee tests aren’t enough!

Prescribed Narcotics: A system needs to be created that prohibits commercial drivers from obtaining exemptions for powerful narcotics. Driver’s abilities are altered all too often because of narcotics.

Sleep Disorder Screening: Sleep apnea and other sleep problems can have some serious effects on their safety and the safety of other motorists. Still, the federal government has yet to address this issue in any meaningful way.

Shipper & Receiver Liability: Freight company owners must share the responsibility to improve safety in the industry. All too often, these companies play the blame game when an accident happens.

Safe Pay: Drivers shouldn’t be paid by the mile. This takes a driver’s attention off of safety and on to the $$. Drivers should instead be paid by the hour.

Crash Avoidance: More attention needs to be placed on the next generation of safety equipment and technology for these drivers and for these vehicles.

With each and every improvement, we have a chance to save the lives of motorists. Over the last ten years, the number of commercial trucks has jumped by close to 5 million. Still, there’s a shortage on truckers available for the drive — forcing many of them to work under grueling conditions.
Continue reading →

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No one would argue truckers have an easy job.

The hours are long and the ride can be physically grueling, mentally exhausting and potentially dangerous.

The nature of the work and the fact that truckers are often hauling heavy and dangerous materials means everyone who shares the road with them are at risk for truck accidents in Pompano Beach and elsewhere.

Our Pompano Beach truck accident attorneys know that in 2008, one out of every nine traffic fatalities involved a large truck. In fact, that same year, more than 4,000 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents and some 66,000 were involved in crashes that resulted in at least one injury.

Now, the U.S. Department of Transportation is tightening restrictions on the trucking industry in an effort to curb fatalities and injuries that happen due to large trucks.

According to a recent news release, Ray LaHood, the secretary of the federal agency announced a nationwide response to the issue of trucker fatigue by limiting the number of consecutive hours a trucker can be on the road. The agency has also re-written the minimum safety requirements for those who drive commercial trucks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has successfully revised trucking rules. Under the new guidelines, truckers will work 12 less hours in any given week. That means they will be allowed to drive 70 hours in a week. Previously, most truckers averaged 82 hours over a 7-day period.

Also under the new rule, truckers will be mandated to take at least a 30-minute break every eight hours, though they are encouraged to make more frequent stops if they feel themselves getting drowsy.

Plus, in a 24-hour period, the trucker will only be allowed on the road for 11 hours. The safety administration is considering whether that may also be too many. For now, the 11-hour rule stands.

For truckers who breeze through those 70 hours, they’ll need to restart their clock and get two consecutive nights of rest.

While it doesn’t entirely solve the issue of trucking accidents in Pompano Beach and throughout Florida, the hope is that it will drive down the number of fatal accidents and injuries that result when these over-sized vehicles are involved.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks were more likely than smaller vehicles to be involved in a crash that involved multiple vehicles. In fact, 82 percent of all fatal crashes where a large truck was involved also involved multiple cars. Compare that to 58 percent of all passenger vehicle wrecks that involved multiple cars.

In most of the cases where a truck accident was fatal, it happened on a rural road, during the well-lit daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on regular weekdays.

It remains to be seen whether trucking accident statistics will be affected by the new rules.

We hope.

In the meantime, companies that violate the new rules could face fines of $11,000 for each offense. Drivers can also be fined civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each violation.
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According to the director of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), Col. David Brierton, the FHP will be participating in this year’s Operation Safe Driver. This annual campaign will be taking place this year from October 16th through the 22nd. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that the event is nationally organized and is being put by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. During this time, law enforcement will be targeting drivers of commercial and passenger vehicles to ensure that the vehicles and the drivers are meeting federal safety standards.

Nearly 90 percent of fatal trucking accidents in West Palm Beach and elsewhere that involve a commercial truck are caused by driver error. During this safe driving campaign, troopers from the FHP will be out combing our roadways in search of dangerous drivers. They’ll be targeting these drivers by performing driver safety inspections on commercial trucks and targeting dangerous driving habits on Florida roadways.

Our Broward County car accident attorneys understand how dangerous traffic accidents with large vehicles can be. During Operation Safe Driver, members of the FHP will be cracking down on these drivers and will be taking aggressive enforcement action against drivers of commercial trucks, passenger buses and passenger vehicles. Raising awareness of the dangers that these vehicles present has been proven effective in increase roadway safety.

“Activities such as Operation Safe Driver have had a noticeable effect,” said Brierton.

Traffic accidents with large trucks and with commercial vehicles can oftentimes end fatally. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 3,500 people killed in U.S. roadways in 2009 because of accidents involving these large vehicles. Another 74,000 people were injured in these types of accidents. According to state statistics, there were more than 295,500 large trucks involved in traffic accidents throughout the year.

Of the people who were killed in these types of accidents in 2009:

-More than 75 percent of fatalities occurred to the occupants of the other vehicles.

-Roughly 15 percent occurred to those who were occupants in the truck.

-Approximately 10 percent occurred to those who were nonoccupants.

It’s quite clear that occupants of passenger vehicles are more vulnerable than any other party involved in a car accident with a large truck. The size, weight and force carried by these large vehicles make them deadly. With the proper knowledge and safe driving habits, we can all do our part to help reduce these risks. Remember to be cautious around these large vehicles, stay out of their blind spots and to allow them plenty of room on our roadways. There’s no reason to travel too closely and to flirt with danger. Be alert, be cautious and be aware.
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