The trucking industry is vastly important to the American economy. According to the American Trucking Association, commercial trucks transported 10.23 billion tons of freight across the U.S. in 2020.
And yet, as important as they are to businesses and individuals, large trucks, defined as commercial and non-commercial trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds, were responsible for killing 5,005 people and injuring 159,000 others just in 2019 alone.
Catastrophic injuries incurred as a result of a trucking accident can include brain trauma, the loss of limbs, permanent paralysis, and severe burns. Catastrophic trucking accidents kill or cause catastrophic injuries to thousands of people each year.
Catastrophic Trucking Accidents and Lawsuits
In the wake of a devastating trucking accident, a plaintiff (i.e., the injured party) or his legal representative (if the case involves wrongful death claims) may bring a lawsuit to recover for his or her damages.
Trucking accident cases involving commercial vehicles frequently have multiple parties that can be held liable for a plaintiff’s damages. The number of defendants in a commercial trucking case is one of the factors that makes these cases complicated and difficult to handle unless you have an experienced Florida truck accident attorney to assist you.
Depending on the cause of the accident, potential defendants in these cases can be:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The manufacturer of a defective part
- The truck owner (if not the company)
- The maintenance crew or maintenance company
- The cargo loaders
In addition to involving multiple parties, these cases involve complicated laws and regulations. Because of the dangers these big rigs pose to other drivers on the roads, the trucking industry is heavily regulated. Thus, any trucking case may have federal as well as state law violations.
Further, trucking accident cases require examination of considerable data to pursue a personal injury action against potential defendants. This can include (is not necessarily limited to):
- police reports
- vehicle examinations
- crash scene photos
- truck logbooks
- manufacturer maintenance schedules
- the “black box” event data recorder from the involved truck
Gathering and examining the evidence in a catastrophic trucking accident is crucial to the outcome of any personal injury accident. Which is why it is important to have the assistance of our knowledgeable trucking accident attorneys if you have been involved in an trucking accident.
Identifying the potential defendants in a catastrophic trucking accident is only one aspect of a case. It is also necessary to understand what legal theory of liability supports your case.
Most personal injury cases are predicated on a negligence theory of liability. What this means is that the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to “exercise due care” in some way (either by omission or commission) and that this caused the plaintiff’s damages. To succeed in a negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove 4 essential elements:
- duty (that the defendant owed him/her a duty of care)
- breach (that defendant breached this duty)
- causation (that this breach caused plaintiff’s injuries)
- damages (that plaintiff was, in fact, injured or damaged)
These essential elements are the basis for a negligence claim. However, there are additional negligence theories to meet the facts of any give case.
One of these theories that can apply to a catastrophic trucking case is that of “negligent entrustment.”
Negligent entrustment is a cause of action that may be available in personal injury cases where the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident was not the owner of that vehicle. In other words, it can be available where an owner (in this case of a commercial truck) “entrusted” the vehicle to a driver who was later involved in an accident.
Florida’s laws on negligent entrustment require predicating the claim on the “dangerous instrumentality” theory. In Florida, vehicles capable of causing death (like cars and trucks) are considered to be “dangerous instrumentalities.” So, a Florida negligent entrustment claim must allege and prove that the defendant vehicle owner was negligent in entrusting the vehicle to the subject driver.
In the context of commercial trucking accidents, one example of this is where it can be shown that the trucking company (i.e., owner of the truck) failed to do a proper background check on the driver and it was later discovered that he had a history of accidents, or other criminal, drug, or alcohol-related issues. Another example of this is where a trucking company, desperate to meet its delivery deadlines, entrusts its vehicles to untrained or poorly trained drivers.
Trucking accidents are among the worst possible road accidents. They not only cause the most catastrophic injuries and death, but they can be complicated and difficult to litigate. If you have been involved in a trucking accident, contact our experienced trucking accident attorneys to assist you.
North Central Florida Personal Injury Attorneys
Florida accident lawyer John Fagan and his experienced team are dedicated to helping accident victims. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, contact us now for your free consultation or simply call our firm at: 777-JOHN. We serve clients throughout Florida. Our main office is in Orange Park. We have consulting offices in Palatka, Middleburg, Keystone, Starke, Gainesville, and Ocala.