Being the victim of a trucking accident can be the most frightening and traumatic experience of your life. As a survivor, you’re likely dealing with painful personal injuries, expensive hospital bills, and confusion as to who will pay for your damages. An 18-wheeler accident lawyer can be your best friend in the difficult aftermath of a crash. A lawyer can answer your most pressing questions and start the ball rolling on a personal injury lawsuit in Florida. Securing compensation for your losses starts with one important question – who do you sue?
The Truck Driver
According to recent large truck crash data, driver error accounted for 87% of accidents. Poor driver decision-making was the main reason with 38%, followed by lack of driver recognition (28%), driver non-performance (12%), and driver performance (9%).
- Driver decision-making errors include speeding, misjudging the speed of other vehicles, and following too closely.
- Driver recognition describes an inattentive or distracted driver.
- Non-performance involves the driver falling asleep or being otherwise physically impaired.
- While performance represents situations such as the driver panicking or losing control of the vehicle.
The majority of truck drivers are independent contractors, meaning they technically work for themselves. In the past, trucking companies often avoided liability for accidents drivers caused, since the drivers were not employees of the trucking company. A few years ago, however, the federal government changed the rules to make trucking companies liable for crashes that involve their drivers and vehicles, even if they don’t own the truck or employ the driver. While there are exceptions, in most cases the trucking company will be liable for driver errors.
The Trucking Company
Trucking companies are common defendants in 18-wheeler accident lawsuits. The trucking company could be liable for a crash if it is guilty of negligence that contributed to the accident.
Common types of company negligence include:
- Failing to properly inspect vehicles,
- Failing to maintain or repair the fleet,
- Improperly hiring or training drivers, or
- Pressuring drivers to meet deadlines through unsafe means.
The company could also be vicariously liable for the actions of its drivers, cargo loaders, fleet maintenance crews, and other staff members. The liability of a trucking company depends on the established relationships between the at-fault party and the company. If the truck driver was off-duty at the time of the crash, the company may escape liability. Working with an attorney is the best way to determine the fault and liability of a trucking company after a devastating crash.
Manufacturing or Distributing Company
Manufacturing companies in charge of creating the truck or its parts often share fault for accidents. Manufacturers must obey specific standards of safety and care when designing and producing consumer goods. If a company releases a product that is defective or inherently dangerous, it could face liability regardless of the question of negligence.
Strict liability laws apply to most product-related claims in Florida. You may have a claim against a manufacturer or distributor if a defective truck part caused or contributed to your injuries.
Sometimes, hazardous roadway conditions cause trucking accidents. Inadequate street lighting, malfunctioning traffic lights, roadway defects such as potholes or loose gravel, and similar conditions can all cause a large truck to lose control and crash.
If a roadway defect caused your crash, you (and the truck driver) could potentially sue the city in charge of maintaining the road. It is possible to sue the government in Florida, but the rules surrounding these lawsuits are different. To maximize your compensation in a lawsuit against the government, protect your rights with a good 18-wheeler accident lawyer.
A Third Party
Many different third parties can also play a role in serious trucking accidents. Vehicle passengers, other drivers on the road, shippers of hazardous goods, and truck auto repair shops are examples of third parties who may share fault for your crash. A lawyer will investigate your accident, gather evidence such as data in the truck’s black box, and use other methods to assign fault to the appropriate party or parties. Then, your attorney can go to bat for you in front of a judge or jury, helping you prove liability and secure maximum compensation.
In Florida, truck accident victims can sue several parties at once. Learn more about your specific case by contacting the Florida 18-wheeler accident attorneys near you at Bulluck Law Group.
To learn more about truck accidents, read our A Comprehensive Guide for Truck Accident Victims.