Florida’s busy roads are the sites of hundreds of crashes every year involving heavy commercial trucks. These massive vehicles cause serious injuries and fatalities when they strike cars, motorcycles or pedestrians. In the aftermath of a truck wreck, injured victims and their families face extraordinary medical bills, the prospect of buying a new vehicle, the inability to work and many other costs. Fortunately, the victims and their families can seek compensation not only from the truck driver but also from the company that owned or leased the truck.
Truck crash cases can be complex, requiring an experienced personal injury attorney’s attention. There are several legal issues to analyze right away, including whether the truck driver was an employee or independent contractor. While the trucking company is liable for its employee’s harmful conduct, a plaintiff must show direct negligence or wrongdoing by the company if the driver was an independent contractor.
One way a trucking company could be liable is if the company pressured the driver to drive more hours than regulations allow. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) strictly regulates drive time. Despite these regulations, trucking companies may pressure drivers to keep to unreasonable delivery schedules. Drivers may then push themselves to drive when they are exhausted — perhaps falsifying their log books to show fewer hours than they really drove — which can lead to serious crashes.
Lack of proper maintenance is another potential source of trucking company liability. Trucking companies are required to keep their fleets in good working order through regular maintenance. They must inspect tires, brakes, steering equipment, trailers, hitches and other parts and systems. They also must appropriately adjust or repair anything that needs attention. Companies that neglect to do maintenance or that do it incorrectly can be held liable for resulting injuries.
Trucking companies also must use qualified drivers and give them proper training. Failing to do background checks or using drivers who lack proper licenses can expose the company to liability. Similarly, if a driver commits a DUI offense or engages in other misconduct and is allowed to keep driving, the company could be liable for negligent retention.
The sooner you contact the trial attorneys at Frank Charles Miranda, P.A. following a truck accident, the sooner we’ll be able to review your situation and explain your options. Please call our Tampa trial attorneys at 813-254-2637 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.