The Challenge of Truck Accident Liability in Florida
Operating a tractor trailer on the highways is particularly challenging. Truck drivers are held to a higher level of safety, requiring specific safety courses and a particular classification of driver’s licenses. When the duty of care is breached, serious traffic accidents may occur, resulting in substantial injury and even death. These tragedies leave victims and families with difficult physical, mental and financial hardships, but determining liability in a tractor trailer accident can be difficult.
Two truck drivers recently lost their lives, as reported in the Orlando Sentinel. According to the article, a 54-year-old Orlando driver pulled his semi-truck into an emergency lane to check on an issue with his tire. Upon returning to the Florida Turnpike, the driver was reportedly rear ended by another tractor trailer carrying refrigerated flowers. Preliminary accident reports state that the Orlando driver was operating his vehicle at about 45 miles per hour as he pulled back into traffic. He also reportedly had his emergency hazard lights on at the time of the accident.
The driver of the other truck was a 35-year-old Miramar resident. There was also a 36-year-old passenger, who is reportedly believed to have been in the sleeper area of the truck cab. According to the article, the impact of the crash caused the cab of the second truck to separate from the trailer portion, throwing the two occupants onto the highway. The driver of the first truck was reportedly not injured in the accident. There are no charges pending at this time and the investigation is ongoing.
Trucking Liability in Florida
Determining responsibility in a tractor trailer accident is a complex challenge. The story rarely stops with the driver and there are usually many additional factors for consideration. Truck drivers generally work for the company that owns the cargo or a trucking business that contracts with the owner of the cargo. When accidents occur, these companies may be liable for the wrongdoings of the driver. In addition, the court may find negligent behavior on the part of the company.
In some instances, the accident may result from faulty manufacturing. Design flaws or manufacturing mistakes may cause the accident itself or these problems may lead to worse injuries than what would reasonably occur.
In an accident like the one in the Orlando Sentinel report, the actions of both drivers are analyzed. Florida Code, Section 768.81 states, “Any contributory fault chargeable to claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic or uneconomic damages.” Florida law recognizes a pure comparative negligence standard. Parties who contribute to an accident can still pursue a liability claim against the other driver. Once the court determines what percentage of fault belongs to each party, the awarded damages are decreased by the percentage of fault. It’s a complex legal argument to make, so the assistance of an experienced lawyer is important.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor trailer accident, contact the lawyers at Miami based Pita & Del Prado, PA for knowledgeable and skillful representation. Call the office today at 305-670-2889 for a free consultation.