Drivers often cringe at the sight of a semi-truck sharing the roadway with them. They can be up to fourteen feet high and weigh up to 35,000 pounds unloaded. Fully loaded, they can be up to 80,000 pounds with a fuel tank that can hold anywhere from 100 to 300 gallons. Combine those facts with a driver who is driving thousands of miles at 60 MPH or more, and you are left with 411,000 reported accidents, 80,000 injuries, and 3,424 deaths1 according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association’s 2014 data. With those numbers, you would be crazy not to cringe a little.
Truck drivers have a difficult job are often under a time crunch to get their freight where it needs to be. The average truck driver drives between 100,000 and 110,000 miles in a year. That is nearly ten times as much as the average automobile driver. Understandably, the risks that plague all drivers have a greater impact on truck drivers.
Truck drivers have a greater responsibility to avoid these circumstances due to the amount of time they are on the road and size of their vehicles. This added responsibility has been codified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association which has a volume of rules2 that apply to truck drivers in an attempt to address the major causes of accidents. These rules apply to both trucking companies as well as truck drivers and include the following requirements:
Inspections and maintenance Requirements – Drivers and trucking companies must regularly inspect their trucks for any signs of defects or malfunctions and the trucks should be regularly maintained and repaired when needed.
Hours of Service Requirements – Drivers are only allowed to operate their trucks for a certain period of time each day without stopping for rest or sleep breaks, as well as a certain number of consecutive days before they take time off.
Hiring Practices – Companies are required to check driving records, employment history, and other factors before deciding to hire a driver and should not hire drivers who may seem to have dangerous driving tendencies.
These are just three regulations that truck drivers and companies must follow to help avoid the common causes of accidents, but what happens if they fail to do so?
The average truck driver earns approximately $40,000.00 per year but the average injury-causing accident results in over $342,000.00 in damage. Given the amount of damages and severity of the accidents, it is important to understand who all may be at fault in order to maximize recovery. Potential defendants to a truck driving claim include:
Truck Drivers. A truck driver is bound by the federal regulations to operate their truck in a manner that is safer than the operation of an automobile. They are also required to maintain records of their practices. When a driver fails to meet these requirements and causes an accident, they may be liable for the damages.
Trucking Companies. A truck driver is usually operating on behalf of a company who becomes vicariously liable for the actions of their driver while he is on the clock. Furthermore, companies are responsible for monitoring the actions of their drivers in both the hiring, drug testing, and pulling their driving records. If a trucking company fails to maintain these records or allows a truck driver to drive who repeatedly acts unsafe, they may liable for their own negligence in addition to the negligence of the driver.
Insurance companies. Many times, trucking companies will rely on their insurance company to determine the eligibility of a driver. Insurance companies may be held liable for approving a driver if they are aware of their role in the hiring practices of the company.
Contact a Florida Truck Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation
It is important to consider all parties that may have been responsible for putting a dangerous driver on the road and to know that more than one party may be liable. The experienced trucking accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group understand the hiring process and the requirements of the truck drivers and can help you maximize your recovery. Please call our office today at (727) 853-6275 for more information about how we can assist you in your financial recovery after your truck accident.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652