Over 15 million trucks operate in the United States alone. It is a rare day when you are driving on the highway and do not see a semi-truck or tractor trailer. Just recently in Naples, Florida, many people’s worst nightmare occurred on I-75: An accident involving a car and a semi-truck.
A woman in Naples was headed toward Fort Myers on Interstate 75 when she was hit by a semi-truck. The semi-truck unexpectedly veered into her lane, sideswiping her car. Thankfully, the semi-truck did not roll over on her car or she would have been killed instantly. However, her car was pushed into the side rail of the interstate and spun around.
The accident could have been much, much worse, but it still caused physical and mental injury—not only for the woman, but the semi-truck driver as well. As it turned out, the trailer had not been packed correctly by the loaders and the load had tumbled to one side of the trailer after hitting a pothole, causing the trailer to veer into the woman’s lane.
So who is responsible for this accident?
After any car accident, seeking the help of an attorney to walk you through the process of filing claims with insurance agencies is always recommended. In a car accident with a semi-truck, an attorney who specializes in semi-truck accidents with passenger vehicles is a must; these claims are handled differently than other types of accidents.
The following is a short list of the ways that accidents involving semi-trucks are handled differently than accidents between two passenger vehicles.
Difference #1: Liability
In an accident involving two passenger cars, the question of liability comes down to the two drivers, and possibly, the owners of the vehicles in question. In an accident involving a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck, there is a very long list of who might be liable.
In the example above, it very well could be the loaders who are responsible for the accident. If the truck’s cargo was loaded so that one pothole could shift the entire load and cause the truck to become unstable, there may be fault in the way it was loaded.
Another possibility from the example above is that the semi-truck was not properly maintained; the cargo shift occurred because the truck was not working properly. If this is found to be the case, the company who owns the truck or the company who manages the maintenance of the truck or both entities could be found liable.
Other parties who will be examined for liability for an accident between a semi-truck and passenger vehicle are:
- Owner of car
- Owner of trailer
- Owner of tractor
- Freight Forwarders
- Maintenance companies
- Trucking company
- Truck driver
Difference #2: Evidence
You attorney will collect a great deal of evidence after a collision with a semi-truck. There is the usual evidence– witness statements, as well as statements from the two drivers, any camera footage available, and the photographs of the scene.
Then there is the specific evidence needed in the case of an accident with a semi-truck. The qualifications of the driver, the licensing of the trailer to haul the specific cargo, weight tickets previous to the collision, GPS tracking data, maintenance history documentation, and a whole host of additional information will be gathered from the truck driver, the vehicle, and the cargo.
Difference #3: Operation
There is a difference in what constitutes a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle from state to state.
Florida defines a commercial vehicle as “3) COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE.—Any self-propelled or towed vehicle used on the public highways in commerce to transport passengers or cargo, if such vehicle:
(a) Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more;
(b) Is designed to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver; or
(c) Is used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous for the purposes of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, as amended (49 U.S.C. ss. 1801 et seq.).”
The weight to be considered a commercial vehicle in Florida is less than the weight the federal government requires a vehicle to be considered a commercial vehicle. The considerations for an accident with a semi-truck that weighs over 10,000 pounds are varied. The semi-truck takes longer to slow down, accelerates at a slower rate than a passenger vehicle, needs a wide berth when making turns, and needs more room to work with when backing up.
All these examples and more will be taken into account when looking at the accident from the semi-truck driver’s point of view. Did the passenger vehicle make a mistake that caused the semi-truck driver to run into them? These factors will affect damages paid out by the liable party.
If you are in an accident with a semi-truck, do not waste time before calling an experienced attorney. Lusk, Drasites, & Tolisano are Southwest Florida’s first and only call for experienced semi-truck accident attorneys. Our attorneys know what to look for in the evidence of your accident to get you the damages you deserve. Call our office today to set up your consultation in Naples, Cape Coral, or Fort Myers, so you can rest assured you have the right attorney on your side.