semi trucks on highway

When a car accident happens, one (or both) of the drivers is held at-fault in many situations. However, how the law determines liability in truck accidents is more complicated. While the driver will (in most cases) be held at least partly responsible, commercial vehicle accidents involve a corporate aspect due to the owner of the truck and/or goods being transported.

So, who’s fault is it when a truck accident happens in Florida?

Let’s explore the topic:

When is a driver at fault in a trucking accident?

When an expert determines liability in a truck accident, both the driver and the company must be evaluated.

Many attorneys will first look at the driver, examining the requirements in their state. Here in Florida, truck drivers are required to follow the rules of the road and keep accurate records. Their goal is to deliver their goods as safely as possible. What does that look like when broken down into specifics?

Truck Drivers must follow the rules of the road.

In Florida, trucking companies must fully vet their drivers. That means checking off a long list of qualifications, including:

  • drivers must be at least 18-years old (intrastate travel) or 21-years old if they’ll be traveling across state lines
  • drivers must understand, speak, and read English
  • drivers must possess a valid CDL (commercial driver’s license)
  • drivers must have 20/40 (corrected or uncorrected) vision in each eye and the ability to see color
  • drivers must provide a clean driving history

In addition to the long list of qualifications before they hit the road, companies must ensure drivers meet specific requirements after they’re on the road. That means adhering to Florida’s Hours-of-Service laws. You can read more about those here.

Truck drivers must keep accurate records.

recording device in commercial truck

Digital recording devices can play a huge role in determining fault in commercial truck accidents!

Drivers must strictly follow the Hours-of-Service laws referenced above, due to driver fatigue. To ensure this, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) requires drivers to keep detailed logs of their hours on the road. Today, electronic recording devices keep these records in the truck’s cab. This ensures drivers or other individuals can’t alter information found on  the devices.

Any attempts to change driving logs can be career-ending for a trucker, and could leave trucking companies liable.

Mistakes by trucking companies: what determines liability in truck accidents not caused by the driver?

Not every truck accident is due to a driver falling asleep, using contriband substances (like drugs or alcohol), speeding, or failure to adhere to the safety laws. Sometimes accidents happen due to unforseen circumstances with the truck itself, with the cargo, or extenuating circumstances (like weather.) While weather isn’t controlled by anyone involved, issues with the truck or cargo can point at the trucking company.

So, when is the trucking company held liable in a truck accident?

Lack of truck maintenance

Trucking companies must maintain their vehicles, with a detailed inspection list for commercial vehicles. During these inspections companies must guarantee that all parts are in proper working order. The inspection includes:

  • brakes
  • windshield wipers
  • all lights (headlights, brake lights, etc.)
  • dashboard gauges
  • horn
  • turn signals
  • all emergency equipment
  • underride protection
  • tires and wheels (mudflaps too!)
  • engine
  • clutch and transmission
  • axels
  • steering components
  • cargo-securing equipment

If anything is discovered during these inspections and is not promptly repaired before allowing a truck to return to operation, a company could be held liable in an accident involving that truck.

Improperly loaded or poorly secured cargo

Both Florida and federal law have specific requirements for commercial trucks. When an attorney determines fault in truck accidents, they examine how the truck’s cargo was loaded. If a truck was overloaded and surpasses weight limits, it can lead to longer braking times, poor control of the vehicle at high speeds, and a higher chance of collision. Cargo that was improperly loaded or poorly secured can fall off the truck, or cause a weight shift, leading to collisions with other vehicles on the road. In all of these cases, the trucking company could be held liable.

Tampa victims Look to Brooks after a truck accident!

Brooks Law Group provides a dedicated team of injury attorneys with the skills and experience needed to build a case for victims like you. We aid victims of commercial truck accidents, seeking out the justice and compensation they deserve and need. Our contingency fee gives victims peace of mind that they can afford quality legal help, as our clients don’t pay unless we win. Even our first consultation with victims is free!

Contact us after your truck accident. Tampa Bay victims in need always Look to Brooks.