Truck Accident Attorney Jacksonville, FL
Will Kurtz is an attorney who specializes in trucking accident cases involving serious injury and even death. Big trucks share the roads with us every day. They are a necessary part of our economy to get good to every part of our country. But the terrible and sad truth is that often times truck drivers are forced to work beyond the rules that govern safety. When that happens truck drivers are tired or they cut corners and driver’s on the roads are often the victims of this carelessness.
Truck Accidents are Different
Anyone who is on the road knows that tractor-trailers are different. It is also easily understood that an accident with a truck increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to the occupants of the car. How are they different:
- Trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds where most passenger cars weigh between 3,000 and 6,000 pounds making the passenger car the loser in every accident.
- Because of their weight, it takes a truck a lot longer to stop.
- Trucks have large blind spots where cars can be hidden from view of the driver.
- Trucks are driven many thousands of miles a week – they are prone to maintenance issues.
- They take specialized training and skill to operate safely.
- Because of the way they are designed – higher center of gravity increased length, or tractor/trailer combination – they are easily jackknifed, take wide turns, and flip over because of their higher center of gravity.
Causes of Truck and Semi-Truck Accidents
Most trucking accidents that occur are the result of a careless mistake usually committed by the truck driver’s themselves. Professional truck drivers have a variety of issues that contribute to creating dangerous situations for both them and the general driving public at large.
There are many reasons why truck accidents occur. These are some of the most common.
- Rushing to meet deadlines and delivering goods in tight delivery schedules can cause truck drivers to take unnecessary risks and speed.
- Truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel with little or no breaks and become restless and tired. Long hauls require overnight stays, usually in the trucks themselves at rest areas, or on the side of the road.
- Truck weight and loads make driving some rigs difficult to manage. Long trips at high speeds mean truck drivers can be faced with all kinds of changing weather patterns.
- The monotony of driving day in and day out can cause many truck drivers to become bored and lack the attention needed to avoid hazards the roads and highways might present.
- Large trucks and 18 wheelers have blind spots, making other vehicles hard to see.
- Slower trucks on major thoroughfares cause faster trucks to constantly change lanes. Faster traveling automobiles are also forced to pass other trucks, sometimes creating difficult and dangerous driving conditions.
- Truck drivers sometimes do not leave enough space between vehicles for changing lanes.
- Mechanical issues and defective or worn tires are a constant issue.
- Inadequate training for drivers using multiple vehicle types creates additional issues they may face.
All of these factors can contribute to creating undue stress on professional drivers. Additionally, many large trucks can be rented by ordinary drivers without additional licensing and training.
Truck Accident Injuries
Any accident that occurs between a large commercial truck and other vehicles: automobiles, motorcycles, pick-up trucks etc. can cause catastrophic injuries for drivers and passengers alike. Even relatively minor incidences can have devastating effects causing major injuries and sometimes death. The pure physics of a larger, heavily weighted vehicle crashing into a smaller one yields significant damage and destruction. Automobiles are designed to withstand crashes involving other cars, but nothing can withstand the force of tens of 1000’s of pounds of truck, traveling at even moderate speeds impacting with a car or smaller vehicle.
Tips to Avoid a Trucking Accident
There are over 11 million semi-trucks registered to operate in the U.S. Millions of trucks, traveling millions of miles, in all types of weather and on all types of roads. These are some driving tips car drivers and motorcyclists should utilize when operating in close proximity to a truck, semi-truck or other commercial vehicles.
- Never do what is called “drafting off” a truck. Following very close to the rear-end of a truck to reduce gas consumption.
- Never tailgate or follow too closely to another vehicle, car or truck because the vehicle in front might stop suddenly.
- Never pass a semi-truck on the right because the truck driver has limited vision.
- Never assume a semi-truck will not pull out and change lanes to pass another vehicle if he thinks he has room to pass. Always anticipate what you think they will do.
- Always use turn signals to display your intentions to pass or turn. Trucks have a much longer stopping distance in the event they have to suddenly stop.
- Trucks need more room when making turns, especially right turns.
- Never assume a truck driver can see you. If you can’t see his mirrors, chances are he can’t see you.
- Never make a quick stop in front of a truck. You might be able to stop but the truck might not have enough room, and trucks stopping suddenly can jack-knife causing all types of traffic issues.
- Be respectful of all drivers on the road but especially trucks and their drivers.
- At night, if a truck passes you on the left, wait until the truck has adequate room to return to your lane and flash your headlights so he knows when to come back over. You will be thanked in most cases by the truck drivers blinking their tail lights.
- Never travel in the left-hand lane under the speed of traffic. This causes cars and trucks to pass your vehicle on the right, which is very dangerous especially for larger trucks.
What happens if a Commercial Truck is involved in an Accident?
There are many differences between an automobile accident involving two cars and a commercial trucking accident. Truck accident lawsuits have a unique set of considerations that include many parties including the driver, the company, multiple companies where mechanical failure might be the cause, insurance companies, lawyers representing the defendants, and state and sometimes federal regulations.
Whenever a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, the first thing the trucking company and or the insurance company does is dispatch professionally trained personnel to review the accident and document as much information about it as possible. The insurance agent will take pictures of the accident and the vehicles involved. Second, they will document all relevant information including the area/road conditions where the accident took place, any skid marks that occurred, who presumably is determined to be at fault, etc. They will receive a copy of the police report documenting their investigation. Additionally, they will review the mile and rest logs of the truck driver and depending on the seriousness of the accident review the CDL qualifications.
If you have been involved in a trucking accident, never make statements about the accident to anyone except police and emergency personnel. If you are capable, take pictures of the accident yourself and try to document as much information as you can recall at the time it happened. If injured, get medical attention immediately. Remember, doctor first, lawyer second when injured in an accident.
When Should You Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
As soon as possible. If you can hire a lawyer on the day of the accident that is best. There will be a lot going on when a trucking accident happens but the evidence is quickly lost. You can bet the trucking companies' insurance company will be on scene within a couple of hours preserving evidence. You must have an attorney and his investigators on the scene as soon as possible to preserve critical evidence. Evidence that will disappear and never be recoverable. Whether it is skid marks, dashcam video, or the “black box” if you don’t have someone on the scene protecting your rights this evidence could be lost forever.
Trucking Accidents are some of the most complex and difficult cases to handle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a separate set of rules which govern trucking companies and truck drivers. They are known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The rules especially targeting truck drivers are voluminous and complex. You must have an attorney who is intimately familiar with the rules, how they govern trucking companies and their drivers' conduct, and how they are used to hold these people accountable when they injure someone because of their negligence.
Dealing with a trucking company or their insurance company on your own will result in lower compensation then you deserve for your injuries. It is always better to have an experienced auto accident attorney helping you along the way, on your side, and fighting for your rights.
At the Law Offices of William W. Kurtz, Jr., P.A. we handle trucking cases and are not afraid of big trucking or big insurance. If you or a loved one are injured because of a trucking accident call and let us tell your story.