Motor vehicle accidents that happen between two cars can be devastating, but when a large commercial truck or tractor trailer is involved, the aftermath is amplified, and the legal course of action is very different.
Commercial truck accidents involve a much different method of discovery, which is what we call crash investigation in our field of law practice. As personal injury attorneys in Southwest Florida, we're amazed by the sheer number of huge, commercial trucks and big rigs on our area roads. They're all trying to get where they're going, sharing the road with passenger cars, motorcycles and every other vehicle – and the results are not always pretty.
What Makes Truck Accidents Different?
Here are just some of the ways a crash involving a large truck is not the same as a passenger car crash:
The type of license held by the truck driver – The driver / operator of a large commercial truck should be holding a valid commercial driver's permit. In Florida, that's known as a Commercial Driver's License, or CDL. This requires the passage of a certified training program, indicating that the applicant has been properly trained to drive a vehicle that weighs 26,001 pounds or more. There are actually three classes of CDL licenses involving specialized endorsements for the operation of school buses, tractor trailers, tankers that carry toxic hazardous materials, tractor trailer rigs and others.
If the driver of a large vehicle that is found to have caused a serious crash does not hold the correct type of driver's license, your truck accident lawyers at Goldberg Noone Abraham, will develop a strategy to prove that the driver was not adequately trained to drive that type of oversized truck.
The maintenance history of the vehicle – As part of the post-crash discovery, our legal team will thoroughly investigate the truck's maintenance records to determine if it was safe to even be on the road. Some large trucking and transportation companies own and operate several vehicles, and they do not always invest the time or money necessary to correctly maintain them all. In some cases, they may have an older truck that has seen better days, and decide that keeping it operating safely is not urgent because they plan to retire it from their fleet soon.
The state of Florida and the federal government have very strict requirements on properly maintaining their fleets of trucks, with stringent guidelines that must be followed. If the brakes on a truck are not correctly maintained or other systems on the truck are neglected or worn down, this can lead to a devastating crash with catastrophic injuries, or even the loss of life.
Was the driver overworked or fatigued – There are also strict requirements under the law regarding how many hours a driver can be behind the wheel. As evidenced by the recent case involving a Wal-Mart truck driver crashing into the van of comedian Tracy Morgan, a driver who receives pay incentives – or the privilege of keeping their job – based on getting their load to the appointed location in a pre-specified time can be a recipe for disaster.
Trucking is big business, and owner / operators are constantly under the gun to deliver, and fast. The more they can squeeze out of their drivers, the more they can increase their bottom line. This can result in drivers who are overtired, stressed and even under the influence of drugs in order to stay awake behind the wheel.
The Naples Daily News recently ran an excellent expose detailing the many ways truck drivers are forced into being overworked just to pay for their rigs, which you can read here.
What was the truck hauling – the trucking company and their driver are under an obligation to follow strict criteria when they are transporting some type of hazardous, toxic or dangerous materials or chemicals. A tanker carrying fuel or liquid chlorine, for example, is required to adhere to a tougher safety standard that would a cement or furniture truck.
The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, (OHMS), provides regulatory oversight of all trucking operators who are authorized to carry these dangerous materials. As you can imagine, the legal aspects of a crash involving a big rig transporting a flammable or toxic chemical are extremely specialized, and require a highly-experienced team of lawyers like those at Goldberg Noone Abraham, to thoroughly investigate the circumstances, and hold the at-fault party responsible.
Get the Legal Help You Need After a Truck or Big Rig Crash
Our law firm has been helping people who have been victimized by the negligent or careless acts of big rig truckers for seventeen years, and we have the expertise necessary to successfully fight for your legal rights. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, your loss of work, your continued health and medical treatments and other losses you've suffered.
It's critical that you understand that at Goldberg Noone Abraham, you'll never pay a penny up front for any of our legal services, not even the first phone call or meeting. We'll speak with you to review the circumstances of your crash, and determine if we are able to help you. If we agree to accept your case, you'll only pay a fee if we are successful on your behalf.
Don't hesitate after you've been involved in a crash with a large commercial truck. The faster you call our personal injury law firm at 239-461-5508, the faster you can get back on the road to recovery, and make your life whole again.