What You Need to Know About Semi-Truck Auto Accidents
Car accidents can cause major inconveniences in any person’s life. There are medical bills and treatments to worry about, lost wages from being out of work, and additional damages that you are not sure if you will ever get recovery for. Typically, a car accident is between two passenger vehicles. When there is an accident involving a semi-truck, however, there is an extra layer of care that must be considered.
Semi-trucks are commercial vehicles transporting freight. They are sometimes called 18-wheelers. They are constantly seen on the highways and are large, imposing vehicles. They do not need to have a trailer attached in order to be a significant danger on the roads.
These vehicles are so large and difficult to handle that they require an additional driver’s license to legally operate them. In the state of Florida, truck drivers are required to have a Class A Commercial Driver’s License, also called a CDL. The CDL allows a person to operate a vehicle of over 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.
These trucks are larger, travel more miles, and have the capacity to cause more damage than any passenger vehicle. Because of this, they must be held to a higher standard of safety. If they are held to a higher standard of safety on the road, they can also be held liable for accidents and injuries more easily than a normal passenger driver.
Most everyone has seen the weigh stations set up along the highway. Truck drivers must regularly check in and have their loads inspected to make sure they are not transporting too much weight. These are extremely important because the weight of a vehicle affects the driver’s ability to control turns and braking.
Additionally, these vehicles must be a particular length, height, and width. Trucks drive on just about every type of road you can imagine, from expressways to city streets. Navigating turns, entries, and exits are more complicated if they are all different sizes.
There are also regulations that require a driver to take regular breaks for minimum amounts of time. If a driver is on the road for too long, their cognitive abilities become compromised—increasing their chances of causing a serious accident. Exhaustion and road hypnosis set in when a driver goes too long without a break, meaning their field of vision becomes limited and their reaction times are slowed. If a driver is involved in an accident after violating these regulations, they are almost always found to be at fault.
Semi-trucks typically move goods from one location to another and are not used solely for personal transportation. Depending on what types of goods they are transporting and what specific type of vehicle they are driving, the driver and/or owner of the company must carry bodily injury insurance coverage greater than what is required for a normal driver of a car.
For passenger vehicles, Florida currently only requires personal injury protection (PIP) in the amount of $10,000 and property damage insurance in the amount of $10,000. Zero bodily injury coverage is required. However, semi-trucks are very large vehicles that can cause more damage than your typical passenger vehicle, and so the insurance requirements are much greater.
When a semi-truck is on the road, it’s typically for business purposes. This means that a business large enough to transport goods on that level is available to be sued for damages. This is important because if a jury trial is required, the defendant would be the company as a whole instead of just the truck driver.
When deciding who is at fault in a lawsuit, juries are not allowed to know how much insurance is available and sometimes they worry about putting a large judgment against an individual sitting at the defendant’s table. But when the defendant is a company rather than a person, there is less of a concern that they will cause undue harm to just one individual. Of course, this shouldn’t matter when it comes to injuries that are caused by the negligence of another person or company, but it’s a reality of the current justice system.
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, it’s important to hire an attorney that has experience litigating against semi-truck drivers and the companies that own them. They have a lot more money than a typical individual, so they have a lot more to lose. They will hire sophisticated attorneys that are trained to defend these cases again and again. Being prepared to litigate against these companies is what we do.