Truck accident law isn’t something we think of very often. Yet, we see commercial trucks out on Florida’s roads and highways every day. When we get on the overcrowded Miami highways, or hit the Turnpike to get to work, the sight of eighteen wheelers causing traffic jams is hard to miss. While commercial trucks on our busy roads are the norm, the laws that regulate their safe commutes are more complicated. Statistics now show that each year, nearly 4,000 Americans suffer accidents with fatal injuries from truck drivers who fail to uphold the standard of care for public safety.
With such sky-high statistics, the laws surrounding truck accidents should be something the public has more exposure to. With the lack of information readily available to the public, it takes a lawyer with what Shaked Law Firm calls “in the trenches” experience in this detailed area of Personal Injury law to successfully represent a trucking accident case. This type of case tends to be highly complex because they often involve both federal law (The Department of Transportation, FMCSA, and FMCSR) as well as Florida’s state law.
The right accident lawyer for a trucking claim
A lot of lawyers will falsely advertise that they’re prepared to take on a large truck accident claim, but have never actually seen one through all the way to trial! This is not only deceitful advertising on the part of the Firm, but this tactic severely hurts the client whom these “paper pusher” lawyers represent.
Trucking accidents are cause some of the most catastrophic injuries Personal Injury lawyers see on a regular basis, and sadly the busier Florida becomes, the more these accidents are on the rise. That’s why within this article, the Shaked Law Firm’s Law Resource Blog will take you inside the reality of truck accident law and the importance of experienced representation in these cases, all from the perspective of a double Board Certified Personal Injury lawyer whose been in the trenches, tried, and recovered multi millions of dollars over the course of numerous cases in this highly nuanced area of law.
There are several different, specific areas of law that apply in the case of a trucking accident. A board certified civil trial lawyer will have experience not only in Personal Injury, but the areas of law that often must accompany it. In Florida’s most complex truck accident cases, victims may require that their lawyer provide legal counsel in the area of worker’s compensation, employment law, and have experience in both federal and Florida state laws.
Because of this, not every lawyer is suited to take on a trucking accident case and get their client the compensation they rightfully deserve. Some attorneys will claim to be ready and willing to take your trucking accident claim, only to leave you high and dry when it comes time to go to trial! This can cost clients financial, emotionally, and put further strain on their already compromised physical health.
An experienced lawyer’s ethos
Here on the Shaked Law Firm’s Law Resource Blog we expose the truth about what the insurance companies hope accident victims won’t find out!
For our readers to gain a full understanding of the laws surrounding truck accidents in Florida, we’ll take a closer look at what truck accident law really is, and break down all those complicated government regulations concisely. We’ll tie this article into May 2018’s successful Hours of Service writeup, where we delved into how such regulations are put in place to protect both the public and a carrier’s truck drivers. To kick off 2019, we also offered our readers an even deeper look inside liability and specifically, what that means for truck drivers and their employers who are found to have violated the law.
Who, and what is the Department of Transportation?
Commuting to and from work, or out on the road enjoying the weekend on a motorcycle ride, the first thing that comes to mind for a driver probably isn’t who’s out there keeping the road safe. In fact, we often take for granted that there’s even a governing body for exactly this reason. The office that makes road safety for the public their first priority is known as the Department of Transportation, or, DOT.
The Department of Transportation is strong and transparent in their one mission. On their website they clearly state that it’s their sole purpose to:
Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.
Little known federal fact: the Department of Transportation was established as a Congressional act on October 15, 1966. However, the Department’s first day of operation did not commence until April 1, 1967.
The main goal of the DOT is public safety and reducing the risk of accidents on every road, highway, freeway, and turnpike in the United States. Americans travel 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That’s a lot of manpower required year round. Forging ahead, the DOT is dedicated to serving the public and providing for the best interests of drivers both publicly employed and private citizens. That’s why the Department of Transportation employs 55,000 government workers all over the United States each year. By maintaining a standard of public safety and regulating the laws surrounding transportation and commuting, the DOT is able to, as they state via their website, “contribute to the nation’s economic growth”.
Florida’s truck accident laws, regulated
There are several points one should know when navigating truck accident law for the first time. The first of these is who’s really in charge when a victim becomes injured in a truck accident and a lawyer is able to prove there are clearly defined grounds to move forward with litigation?
The answer to that question is: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or, FMCSA. The FMCSA regulates the laws surrounding driver safety, retraining, proper securing of cargo in or on a commercial carrier, and liability (also known as Hours of Service) in cases of operator fatigue. In the next paragraph, we’ll explain Hours of Service with an excerpt from our May 2018 writeup.
Hours of Service: it’s more than a “rest stop”
In Hours of Service: Trucking Carrier Fatigue is a Road Hazard, Major Public Safety Risk we established the following in regard to this federally mandated regulation:
“[…]To ensure public safety as well as the safety of those who are employed to commute in commercial vehicles, the DOT has provided a thorough list of regulations that explicitly state the requirements that need be met to help trucking operators avoid carrier fatigue at all costs. These regulations as a whole are known as Hours of Service.”
Furthermore, the Department of Transportation goes on to list everything from specific mileage and/or driving limits broken down into hours, to mandatory rest breaks. We’ve laid out these federal regulations below:
- Property carrying drivers: 11-hour driving limit; a driver may only drive a maximum of 11 consecutive hours, after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Passenger carrying drivers: 10-hour driving limit; a driver may only drive a maximum of 10 hours, after 8 consecutive hours off duty.
- Rest break requirements: a trucking operator may only drive if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last “off-duty” or rest period (must be at least 30 minutes).
More acronyms, explained
Another point one should familiarize themselves with in connection to the area of truck accident law is the Federal Highway Administration. Also known as the FHA, this Administration governs all aspects of highway transportation. Therefore when a victim and their lawyer bring litigation in court, the liability laws set forth by the FHA apply. The FHA is part of the United States Federal Government, as is the FMCSA and in turn, FMCSR regulations also apply.
The last but not least important point one seeking to learn the ins and outs of trucking law should be knowledgable in is the National Transportation Safety Board, or, NTSB. The NTSB involves themselves in any serious accident that occurs on a highway, though we most often see their presence on the scene of plane accident. However, any laws the NTSB sets forth would apply in a court of law when trying a truck accident case, whether for liability, hit-and-run, or wrongful death.
Why does the right truck accident representation make a successful case?
A Board Certified civil trial lawyer will know exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to recover the maximum compensation for a client who sustained life threatening injuries in a trucking accident. This type of lawyer, with the all-important “in the trenches” trial experience and hundreds of previous truck related cases, will also be able to step up should the case be one of wrongful death, where a victim lost his or her life due to the negligence of a truck driver.
As we’ve always stressed here on the Blog, the Board Certified difference should be obvious: a board certified civil trial lawyer not only has advanced knowledge of federal, state, and specific trucking-related laws, but their overall compassion, ethics, and moral standing when trying any Personal Injury case ranks well above that of their non-board certified peers.