Who Do I Sue After an 18-Wheeler Accident?
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that nearly 32,000 accidents involving a large truck occur annually in Florida. Many of these accidents are caused by some form of negligence from a driver, trucking company, or manufacturer.
It can be difficult to establish fault and liability in an 18-wheeler accident due to the widespread property damage and injury that it can cause. Victims in a truck accident often need legal representation to determine who is at fault for their injuries and pursue compensation for their losses.
To be successful in a personal injury case, the truck accident attorney in Florida must establish that someone else is responsible for the victim’s injuries and subsequent damages. Negligent parties in an 18-wheeler accident may include:
Truck drivers stay on the road for long periods of time. This can affect their alertness and judgment. They may have been tired, distracted, or intoxicated, causing the truck to swerve or collide with another vehicle. Some drivers may even choose to operate a large commercial vehicle even if they don’t have the proper training to do so.
Florida laws require trucking companies to maintain a safe and dependable fleet. All vehicles must undergo thorough and accurate inspection and maintenance on a routine basis. When trucking companies cut corners or ignore problems, they put drivers and other people in danger.
A flawed design or defective part can hinder a driver’s ability to maintain control of the truck in dangerous situations. Manufacturers must run their vehicles through rigorous tests to ensure that the design is workable. Employees on the assembly floor must also ensure that each part is in excellent condition.
Loading crews are often under tight time constraints, causing personnel to load cargo quickly. If the crew is in a hurry, the loaders may fail to secure the cargo. This results in objects falling off the trailer or an imbalance from one side of the truck to the other. The trailer could easily tip over if the driver swerves quickly on the road.
Trucking companies may partner with third-party inspection companies that ensure each vehicle meets or exceeds state and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) federal safety standards. Inspectors must identify problems, report them, and enforce adjustments in the vehicles before they are allowed back on the road. An inspector who overlooks or ignores a problem can increase the risk that an accident will happen.
Factors in Determining Liability
There are several factors that determine liability, including:
The Truck Driver
The truck driver may have been tired or received inadequate training. If the driver is at fault for the accident, the victim may sue the driver and possibly the trucking company.
Not all trucking accidents are the fault of the driver or the company. A vehicle driver may be responsible for the accident involving the 18-wheeler. If so, the victim may be able to file a lawsuit against the vehicle driver.
The road crew or City of Tampa is responsible for ensuring that all roadways, signs, and markings are in good condition and safe for drivers. A road in poor condition can cause a truck accident. If so, the victim may sue the city or the crew responsible for the condition of the road.
Steps to Take in a Truck Accident Case
Steps that a victim can take after a truck accident include:
- Seeking medical attention right away.
- Documenting the accident with photos, videos, or notes.
- Gathering contact information from witnesses and the other driver.
- Consulting a truck accident lawyer in Tampa, Florida.
Whether the person filing the lawsuit is the victim or the family of the victim, the first few steps are vital to a personal injury case.
Hire a Truck Accident Attorney in Tampa, FL
The Hoag Law Firm offers comprehensive legal services to victims of truck accidents. They will investigate the accident, establish liability, negotiate with the insurance company, and fight to ensure that the at-fault party is held accountable. Attorney Brian M. Hoag serves clients in the Tampa, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Clearwater, and Land O’ Lakes areas of Florida. Call today for a free consultation.