Accidents Involving Semi-Trucks
Most drivers on the road obviously try to do their best to operate their vehicles safely, regardless of what they drive. However, accidents do happen, and due to their sheer size, semi-trucks are involved in a higher proportion of accidents than one might think. If you are involved in a crash with a semi-truck, you should also be aware of certain factors that are unique to dealing with truck drivers and trucking companies.
Statistics & Common Causes
Data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) shows approximately 11 percent of all accidents in the state involve at least one big rig, and that number may be on the rise. Between 2015-2016 (the most recent available data), the number of accidents involving trucks rose approximately 8.6 percent in Broward County, with similar numbers in similarly situated counties like Orange and Hillsborough. Fatalities, however, are down, for a multitude of reasons, including FLHSMV initiatives to minimize them.
There are many different reasons for accidents to occur when semi-trucks are involved, but many have to do with driver fatigue. Trucking companies commonly push their drivers to ignore federal guidelines regarding number of hours and required rest, so as to deliver loads sooner and be more profitable, but this can be hard on truckers, depriving them of needed time to ensure they are operating at their full potential. Other common causes include aggressive or reckless driving (on the part of the auto or truck driver), and improperly loaded or maintained vehicles.
Who To Sue
If you have been in an accident with a semi-truck and you believe that you were harmed due to the driver’s negligence, you can bring suit against that driver in an ordinary negligence suit, but you may not receive much in the way of compensation. However, if the trucker was on the job – acting “within the scope of employment,” as Florida law refers to it, it is possible that you might be able to bring suit against the trucking company under a theory of what the law calls vicarious liability.
Under vicarious liability, a company may be found liable for the tortious acts of its employee – in other words, for any recklessness or negligence that employee might be guilty of that causes harm to another person. However, this is only true if the employee is acting within the scope of their employment. If the trucker is on a personal errand and causes an accident, the trucking company would not be implicated. If the trucker is making a delivery or picking up product, the company can be brought into the suit in most cases – Florida case law explicitly holds that a motor vehicle can be a “dangerous instrumentality” and if someone who is negligent is entrusted with one, the person or business who entrusted them with it ought to be liable.
Call A Winter Park Truck Accident Attorney
Any crash is a frightening experience, but if a semi-truck is involved, it can be even more so due to the truck’s size and power. If you have been in a truck accident and have questions about what to do, the Orlando truck accident lawyers at the Hornsby Law Group can meet with you and try to help you decide how best to handle this situation. Call our office today to set up an appointment.