Owner Liability in Trucking Accidents
Serious truck accidents often result in fatalities and major injuries. The extensive size of a tractor trailer, combined with the weight of the cargo, makes these trucks a particular danger on the roadways. When these attributes are combined with a negligent operator or faulty equipment, the risk factor increases significantly. For this reason, it is especially important for truck owners and drivers to properly maintain their vehicles and operate them as safely as possible. When they fail to meet this duty, serious accidents occur and questions of liability surface.
A recent article by WESH Orlando reports about a Florida highway trucking accident that resulted in the death of the vehicle operator. While driving on a St. Cloud highway, the victim was killed when his truck’s cargo crashed into his cab. According to the report, the large metal beams violently pushed the back of the seat forward, pinning the driver between the seat and the steering wheel. Witnesses to the accident report that the driver stopped abruptly to avoid an emergency vehicle that pulled out of a fire station. Two of the ties that were supposed to hold the beams in place reportedly snapped, allowing them to slide forward into the cab.
The Florida Highway Safety Patrol (FHSP) is currently investigating the accident and its cause. It is reported that the agency is focusing on the metal beams and whether they were secured properly. FHSP spokesperson Kim Montes was quoted in the article as stating, “In any normal situation, those beams should not come loose simply by applying the brakes. This truck struck no other vehicle. There was no other impact, so they should stay in place.”
According to the WESH article, the company that owns the tractor trailer is not new to investigation. It was reportedly included on a U.S. Department of Transportation list for more frequent inspections, due to a problematic safety record and recurring violations. Over a two-year time period, the company received 17 violations for a variety of deficiencies, which reportedly include a failure to secure cargo and not meeting tie down requirements.
When truck owners do not adequately maintain the safety of their vehicles, they may face liability for any injuries caused by their negligence, including those to other drivers and bystanders. In order to establish liability, an experienced lawyer would have to prove the following elements:
- The owner of the tractor trailer owed a duty to keep the truck in a safe and orderly manner. This duty can extend to the driver, as well as any other drivers traveling in the vicinity of the truck.
- The owner breached that duty. A breach can occur in a variety of ways, including a failure to maintain the mechanics of the truck or failing to secure vehicle cargo.
- An actual injury occurred. The plaintiff must prove that a party was physically injured or killed in an incident involving the truck.
- The breach of duty proximately caused the
If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor trailer accident, contact the legal team of Pita Weber & Del Prado for knowledgeable and skillful representation. Call the office today at 305-670-2889 for a free consultation.