Commercial Truck Accidents

Commercial trucks are different from traditional cars and trucks on the road.  18-wheelers are massive. Depending on the truck type and road traveled, commercial vehicles can weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 pounds.

The term commercial truck is often used interchangeably with 18-wheeler; however, there are a wide variety of trucks that constitute commercial trucks, including the following:

  • Semi-truck or semi-trailer
  • Tractor trailer or 18-wheeler truck
  • Straight trucks
  • Cranes
  • Maxi-Cube trailers
  • Tandem trailers
  • Tanker trucks

Because of the heavy weight and extensive length of these trucks, commercial trucks have a greater potential to cause serious injury or death in an accident.

According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 34, 439 commercial truck accidents in 2014. Of the 34, 439 commercial truck accidents, 10, 193 were fatal. Approximately 800 of those fatalities occurred in Hillsborough County.

Commercial truck accidents often require immediate attention and investigation. To increase changes of recovery of damages for lost wages, physical injury or disfigurement, medical expenses, and pain and suffering it is important to consult an experienced Tampa 18-wheeler accident attorney.

Tampa 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney

Commercial truck accidents differ substantially from traditional car accidents. Seeking recovery after an accident with an 18-wheeler truck should not be handled alone.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a commercial truck accident, it is vital that you consult a dedicated trial attorney for the best result possible.

Michael Germain of Germain Law Group, P.A. is an experienced commercial truck accident lawyer. For over 10 years he has taken on the insurance company to ensure victims of personal injury accidents, including automobile accidents, dog bites, premises liability, and commercial truck accidents recoup the damages they deserve.

Contact Germain Law Group, P.A. at (813) 835-8888 or submit an online form to schedule a confidential consultation. Germain Law Group, P.A. represents clients throughout Hillsborough County, including Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City, Bay Crest Park, Hunters Green, and surrounding areas.

Florida Commercial Truck Accident Information Center

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Florida Regulations and Weight Limits in Central Florida

Laws relating to commercial trucks and the transportation industry are governed by Florida Statute Chapter 316 and Code of Federal Regulations Title 49.

Any self-propelled or towed vehicle used on public highways in commerce to transport passengers or cargo is considered a commercial vehicle, if such vehicle:

  • Has a gross weight rating of 10,000 or more;
  • Is designed to transport 15 passengers, including the driver; or
  • Is used in the transportation of hazardous materials.

Depending on the road type, road condition, length of the truck and number of axles of the truck, Florida law permits a commercial vehicle weight between 10,000-80,000 pounds. The average commercial truck weighs approximately 44,000-80,000 pounds.

Florida legislators have placed certain weight and length restrictions on commercial vehicles, because the heavier a truck is, the more difficult it is to stop, the more damage it can do to roads, bridges and overpasses, and more damage it can do if it collides with another vehicle.

Failure to comply with the weight and length restrictions constitutes a safety violation and possibly negligence in the case of an accident.

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Types of Commercial Truck Accidents in Florida

Commercial truck accidents are divided into different classifications. The type of accident is important in determine fault during negotiations and trial.

  • Jack Knife Accidents– In a jack knife accident, the base of the truck and the trailer move in different directions. The truck and trailer form an L shape, similar to an open jack knife.
  • Underride Accidents– An underride accident occurs when a motor vehicle goes underneath the trailer.
  • Rollover Accidents-Generally caused by overloading or weight shifting, rollover accidents occur when the truck literally rolls over onto another vehicle while attempting to turn.
  • Rear-End Collisions-Like any rear-end collision, a commercial vehicle rear-end collision occurs when the truck collides with another vehicle from behind. Rear-end accidents involving an 18-wheeler are worse due to the size and weight of the truck
  • Head-On Collisions-Like head-on collisions in a regular vehicle, a head-on collision occurs when the commercial vehicle traveling in the opposite direction collides with the front of another motor vehicle.

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Negligence and Safety Violations in Truck Accidents

In addition to violating weight and length restrictions, truck drivers and their employers may be considered negligent or at-fault in a trucking accident for several reasons, including:

  • Failure to provide information and render aid
  • Failure to maintain proper vehicle maintenance
  • Truck Driver Error (Speeding, Driving Under the Influence, and/or Improper Lane Changes)

Failure to Render Aid

Florida Statute Chapter 316.027 requires the driver of the commercial vehicle to provide the following after an accident involving death or serious injury:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Registration number of the commercial vehicle
  • License information

The driver of the truck is also required to render reasonable assistance, including carrying or making arrangements for the carrying to medical treatment.

Failure to Maintain Proper Vehicle Maintenance

Depending on the facts, the commercial truck owner, truck driver, or even the manufacturer may be responsible for regular vehicle maintenance. Failure to perform regular maintenance on a commercial vehicle can be considered negligence, if such vehicle is involved with an accident.

The following are common vehicle malfunction reasons for truck accidents:

  • Brake failure
  • Blown or worn tires
  • Load shifting

Truck Driver Error

Like any driver, Commercial truck drivers must follow all the rules of the road pertaining to lane changes and signaling. And also like any driver, commercial truck drivers are prone to the same errors and bad decisions.

A commercial truck driver may contribute or cause a motor vehicle accident by speeding, veering in multiple lanes, or driving in an undesignated lane. To ensure safety of all Florida drivers, Florida law requires truck drivers operate at lower speeds on certain roads or avoid certain routes.

Also, an 18-wheeler may cause an accident by driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. DUI laws for commercial truck drivers are stricter than those for drivers operating a traditional motor vehicle. A commercial truck driver is considered intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04, in comparison to the 0.08 BAC limit for other drivers.

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Germain Law Group, P.A. ǀ Hillsborough County 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one was a victim of an 18-wheeler accident, it is imperative to consult an experienced attorney immediately. Do not truck the insurance company. They will not look out for your best interests or ensure you receive the recover you deserve.

Contact the experienced Tampa commercial truck accident attorneys at Germain Law Group, P.A. for a confidential review of your case. Germain Law Group, P.A. represents trucking accident victims throughout Florida, including Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Hernando, Polk, Sumter Counties, and surrounding areas.

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