Tampa Truck Accident Lawyer Holds Trucking Companies Responsible for Accidents
Responsive attorney investigates commercial carrier negligence
Large trucks and tractor trailers are more susceptible to certain kinds of accidents, due to their unique structure and characteristics. Trucking companies owe a duty to the public with whom they share the roadways to ensure that their vehicles — and the drivers who operate them — are reasonably safe. Unfortunately, many trucking companies fail to live up to this duty, and victims are hurt as a result. At the Law Offices of Bill Dickey, P.A., we have been helping injured clients hold trucking companies and their negligent drivers accountable for the harm they cause since 1991.
Identifying the causes for commercial truck accidents
There are a number of different factors that contribute to accidents involving tractor trailers and other large commercial vehicles, among them:
- Fatigue — Federal and state driver rest requirements are aimed at combating fatigue, but these regulations only work when trucking companies and their drivers are compliant. To meet ambitious delivery deadlines, drivers may push themselves beyond the set limits.
- Blind spots — Blind spots can extend 20 to 30 feet on the side, front and rear of a large truck, eclipsing entire vehicles from a driver’s line of sight and increasing the chance of a sideswipe accident. Inadequate or improperly positioned mirrors can contribute to the risk.
- Trailer rigging incorrectly — Failing to secure a truck’s trailer properly can cause a jackknife accident, in which the trailer overtakes the cab.
- Speeding —Excessive speeding is one of the most common reasons for large truck accidents, and it raises the likelihood of certain kinds of crashes such as rollovers.
- Size/weight requirements — Eighteen-wheelers must weigh less than 80,000 pounds, and their loads must be spread evenly, since an overloaded or under-loaded trailer creates an unbalanced weight.
- Defects/maintenance — Neglecting regular inspections, maintenance and repairs on their vehicles can expose a trucking company to liability. When defects are the fault of a component-part manufacturer, that company could be responsible under product liability law.
We possess knowledge and understanding of trucking company policies and are skilled at making sense of driving logs, electronic driving records, employment policies and loading procedures.
Experienced trucking accident lawyer well-versed in state and federal regulations
There are many areas in which large trucking companies drop the ball when it comes to ensuring that their policies are safe and reasonable. Extensive research has been conducted on trucking company best practices that reduce the risk of accidents, but unfortunately not all trucking companies adhere to these guidelines faithfully. Trucking companies sometimes encourage their drivers to skirt the hours of service laws by forging their log books. In fact, one compliance study showed that as many as 75 percent of all long-haul truck drivers have falsified their driving logs at some point. When truck drivers can drive farther and work longer hours, the commercial trucking company can get away with hiring fewer drivers, and purchasing fewer trucks. Both federal and state guidelines seek to prevent such conduct.
When truck drivers cross state lines while on the job, they are subject to the federal interstate driving regulations. These rules limit hours of service for property-carrying and passenger-carrying drivers of commercial motor vehicles. Property carrying truck drivers are subject to driving limits including:
- A maximum of 11 hours of driving, following 10 consecutive off-duty hours
- A maximum of 14 hours on-duty, following 10 consecutive off-duty hours, including drive time, as well as any hours spent loading and unloading cargo, fueling the vehicle or otherwise working. This also includes rest and meal times
- A maximum of eight hours without a rest period of at least 30 minutes spent in the “sleeper berth” or resting compartment of the truck
In addition to daily driving limits, regulations impose weekly limits of no more than 60 hours within a consecutive seven-day period or 70 hours within an eight-day period. Thirty-four hours are required to pass before a driver may restart their weekly driving time.
Sometimes, drivers may be eligible for an extension of driving time limits, especially if their route is not very far — typically less than 100 to 150 miles — or if a driver is delayed by a storm.
State law controls intrastate trucking limits, but most states have chosen to enact regulations that mirror the federal rules. Florida state hours of service rules for truck drivers are slightly more lenient. They allow driving up to 12 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty and for up to 16 hours of duty. The weekly limits are set at 70 hours per seven consecutive days, and 80 hours per eight consecutive days.
Unfortunately, when trucking companies cut corners to maximize their profit, people get hurt. We can help victims investigate what happened, and why.
Consult an experienced Tampa Bay truck accident lawyer for a free initial consultation
Our personal injury firm fights to hold negligent trucking companies accountable for our clients who suffered injuries in truck accidents. To schedule your free initial consultation at our Tampa or Clearwater office, call the Law Offices of Bill Dickey, P.A. at 813-835-3800 or contact us online.