The trucking industry depends on timely deliveries that may cause drivers to stay on the roadway without breaks, or engage in distracted driving patterns to save time. Trucks cause catastrophic damage when they make impact with passenger vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, roadway or building structures and usually yield more expensive insurance and legal settlements for a variety of reasons.
- Size, weight, and height. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. The average car weighs no more than 4,000 pounds and can easily slide beneath a truck. These two factors place the occupants of passenger vehicles at increased risk of severe injury or death in accidents involving tractor-trailers. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that around 68 percent of fatalities in truck accidents are people in passenger cars. The center of gravity is higher on a tractor trailer making balance susceptible to weather conditions and cargo loads leading to rollovers or jackknife situations, and leaving other vehicles open to underride accidents.
- Reduced braking distances. It takes 40% more braking time for a tractor-trailer to stop compared with a passenger sized vehicle due to a truck’s size and weight.
- Blind spots. The length of a tractor trailer causes large blind spots directly in front, behind an on each side and are increased by the length of trailers. Anyone passing a big rig should consider that if a passenger vehicle cannot see the trucker’s reflection in his rearview mirror, the truck driver probably cannot see the passenger vehicle.
- Cargo load. If cargo is not loaded properly it can shift, making it difficult to safely maneuver the truck and increasing the possibility of a rollover or jackknife.
- Hazmat transport. Commercial trucks frequently transport hazardous materials, including chemicals that can spill out in an accident and cause both environmental and health concerns.
- Delayed or slow start. A big truck needs more time and distance to get up to the speed needed to keep up with the flow of traffic, especially when the tractor-trailer is merging onto a highway or interstate. This can lead to underride situations for other cars, or rear- end accidents.
- Fatigue and distracted driving. Falling asleep at the wheel, or not giving full attention to the surroundings while barreling down a highway can cause catastrophic accidents leading to inflated property damages and injuries.
Damage recovery through insurance and legal action.
Accident victims can file a personal injury claim in Florida, but under Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law, costs incurred due to an accident will be paid primarily from a claim against the injured person’s own insurance company to cover non-serious injuries. Florida follows the “pure comparative negligence rule” meaning that if a driver is responsible for any part of the activities leading to injury, compensation will be adjusted in accordance with the percentage of fault assigned to each driver. The statute of limitations for a personal injury car accident claim in Florida is four (4) years, so the paperwork needs to be initiated and filed in court before this time has passed.
Contact an attorney.
An attorney can help with the assessment of damages based on the review of property and bodily injury, liability insurance including uninsured motorist coverage, lost wages, loss of income, medical bills and the percentage of fault assigned to all accident parties. Contact an experienced attorney at the Law Office of Smith & Vanture for a consultation.