Each year, millions of vehicles travel on American highways, with commercial vehicles being the majority. In Port Charlotte, Florida, there are thousands of commercial vehicles such as buses and delivery trucks that navigate the roads and suburbs to reach their destinations. As a result, there is a higher risk of accidents involving these types of vehicles.
If you or someone you know was injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, it’s important to reach out to a car accident lawyer who serves Port Charlotte as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn more about the legal implications of commercial vehicle accidents in Florida.
What Is Considered A Commercial Vehicle?
A commercial vehicle is any vehicle that is mainly used to transport passengers or goods for a fee. Examples of commercial vehicles include semi-trucks, delivery trucks, passenger vans, school buses, taxis, and ride-sharing service vehicles.
If a vehicle is registered or titled to a business, it is considered a commercial vehicle by default. Additionally, cars can also be classified as commercial vehicles if they meet specific criteria.
- They are used for business
- They are leased and in the name of the financial party that owns them
- They are built to carry 16 passengers or more
- They are used to ferry hazardous materials
- They exceed a specific weight limit
If you were injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle because of the driver’s or company’s negligence, could qualify for compensation. This compensation can cover expenses such as lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
What Makes Commercial Vehicles Vulnerable To Accidents?
Commercial drivers are more prone to accidents caused by distracted driving due to the fact that they spend a significant amount of time on the road. These extended periods can lead to boredom, isolation, and fatigue which could affect the driver’s ability to focus. Rollover accidents involving tractor-trailers are frequently caused by distracted driving and are the leading cause of such accidents in the United States.
One-third of all commercial vehicle accidents are caused by fatigued or drowsy driving, which can be a result of not getting enough sleep. Commercial drivers are also vulnerable to distractions such as eating, drinking, smoking, and using handheld electronic devices, including GPS and cell phones.
According to a study conducted by the University of Utah, using a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is because it distracts the driver’s attention from the road, making it difficult to recognize and react to information in a timely manner and use defensive driving techniques.
Having a phone call or reading texts while driving raises the chances of a serious accident by a noticeable margin, and it elevates the danger of lethal crashes for truckers. Several professional drivers who were involved in deadly collisions had been found to be either texting or having a conversation on their mobile phones during the time of the accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency (FMCSA) has banned the use of handheld communication devices for commercial drivers operating commercial vehicles. This is because buses and tractor-trailers, among other large commercial vehicles, are more susceptible to blind spot accidents due to their size and weight. Although drivers should be vigilant and take care when changing lanes, large vehicles have blind spots that make it difficult to see oncoming traffic.
Blind area incidents often result in rollovers, t-bone collisions, and sideswipes. When drivers are unable to see oncoming traffic in their blind spots, they are more likely to collide with other vehicles or be pushed off the road. Small cars are frequently hit by large commercial trucks in the truck’s blind spot.
When an accident occurs, larger vehicles are more likely to cause severe damage because of their bigger blind spots. This is particularly true when a truck or bus collides with a passenger vehicle. Most accidents involving large commercial vehicles are the result of blind spot collisions. The majority of these collisions are fatal, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Common Causes of Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Employees who are multitasking and driving at the same time are a danger to themselves and others, especially when they are under pressure to do multiple tasks or meet deadlines. Even drivers of smaller commercial vehicles can be at risk of accidents if they are distracted by work.
Other common causes of accidents involving commercial vehicles include:
- Impaired driving because of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to employ safety measures or failing to adjust mirrors
- A failure to indicate a turn by using a signal
- Vehicle mechanical issues
The Outcome Of A Commercial Vehicle Accident Can Be Severe
Commercial vehicles such as semi-trailers or buses are more prone to driver errors, and it takes them longer to stop or prevent an accident due to their size and weight. As a result, if an accident occurs, the risk of severe injury or death is significantly higher.
Incidents involving these vehicles may have serious consequences due to the unstable or dangerous materials they transport, including cattle or gasoline. Such incidents usually result in injuries, such as cuts, burns, broken bones, organ damage, traumatic brain injury, or paralysis.
Who Is Liable After A Commercial Vehicle Causes An Accident?
Determining legal responsibility for an accident involving a commercial vehicle can be difficult, especially when the driver is at fault but does not own the vehicle. This is because the ownership of commercial vehicles can complicate the liability question.
Typically, both the product’s manufacturer or shipper and the transportation company, as well as the driver of the vehicle, are responsible if an accident occurs. If the driver is working at the time of the accident, their employer may also be held accountable.
If a driver is hired without enough screening, the company could be responsible for any accidents that occur. This may happen if the company doesn’t verify the driver’s eligibility to drive a commercial vehicle or doesn’t do a background check as part of their hiring process.
Responsibility for accidents caused by untrained drivers or poorly maintained machinery falls on the employer. If managing a fleet of motor vehicles, it’s the duty of management to ensure that drivers receive sufficient training to prevent accidents and that the vehicles are maintained properly to lower the risk of malfunctions.
A manufacturer or shipper may be responsible for any damages that occur if they don’t provide sufficient warning to the driver or transportation firm. In situations where the cargo, such as gasoline, can worsen an accident scene, the mere presence of the cargo can pose a significant risk. To avoid this, the manufacturer needs to inform the driver or transportation firm of any potential hazards associated with the materials being transported.
Personal injury cases are based on factors like:
- Truck drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists
- When a motorist is judged to be at fault for an accident due to carelessness, this is a breach of care
- Commercial vehicle drivers and their employers may be held financially liable for injuries and property damage caused by their employee’s negligence.
- Monetary damages were incurred because of the breach of duty
Vehicle accidents can lead to financial difficulties, time off from work, and reduced income prospects. Although car insurance can cover repair or replacement costs, it may not include unexpected expenses such as rental fees.
A victim of a truck accident may face both physical and mental injuries, which can make it challenging for them to carry out their daily activities or maintain employment. While a personal injury lawsuit cannot completely heal your injuries or restore your sense of security, it can provide you and your family with the financial assistance necessary to start the recovery process.
To ensure a smooth personal injury case, it is important to hire a lawyer who has knowledge of the legal process and will fight for the compensation you deserve. Your lawyer will carefully review documents such as police records, accident reconstruction notes, and witness statements to establish fault and negligence, which are both crucial for receiving compensation for any damages incurred. The process may take longer than anticipated but having a dedicated lawyer by your side is vital.
To schedule a free consultation regarding a commercial vehicle accident injury, please call FGB Law Firm at 941-979-9010 or fill out the online contact form on our website.