Overloaded Truck Accidents in Florida
Accidents that involve semi-trucks happen throughout the United States on a daily basis. Many of these accidents result in horrific injuries and death. When it comes to overloaded truck accidents in Florida fatalities, it’s estimated that about one in ten are the result of a vehicle crash that involves a collision with a large commercial truck. In West Palm Beach, overloaded and overweight truck accidents are not uncommon occurrences.
This isn’t a surprise when you understand that a fully-loaded semi-truck may weight about 80,000 pounds. Consider a vehicle of that mass crashing into a car that may weigh only about 5,000 lbs. and you have a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, the odds are definitely not in favor of those in the smaller passenger vehicle. In 2014, truck accident statistics tell us:
About 16% of collisions involving trucks occur during the weekend (on Saturday and Sunday).
The deadliest time for truck accidents are the hours between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. During this time, approximately 47% of deaths from large truck accidents occur.
When it comes to truck crashes involving fatalities in 2014, about 59% occurred on a major roadway that wasn’t part of the interstate/freeway road system. In addition 9% happened on minor roadways.
There was a significant increase in the number of individuals who were killed in large truck accidents. In all, the number increased by 16% from 2009 to 2014.
Of the people who were killed in large truck accidents, 68% were those who were in passenger vehicles, 15% were pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclist and only 16% were occupants in the trucks involved.
Some of the more serious threats that are posed to other motorists on the road are trucks that are either overweight, overloaded or both. When these situations occur, the driver of the truck has a reduced ability to control their vehicle. This means that there is a far greater chance that the driver can lose control of the truck. This is especially true when a sharp maneuver is called for or the roads are affected by inclement weather. During these occasions, the truck may be subject to tipping over or the cargo may suddenly become loose. The results are overloaded truck accidents in Florida that may involve one, two or more vehicles.
In order to deal with this situation, both state and federal agencies have statutes that limit the weight and size restrictions of large trucks. According to these regulations, truck-related definitions include:
Trailer – This defines any vehicle type that doesn’t possess any power to move on its own. Its primary purpose is to be drawn by or coupled with a powered motor vehicle. It is also constructed so that none of its weight/load will rest on the vehicle that is towing it.
Semitrailer – This defines any vehicle type that doesn’t possess any power to move on its own. Its primary purpose is to be drawn by or coupled with a powered motor vehicle. However, It is also constructed so that some part of its weight/load will rest on the vehicle that is towing it.
Gross weight – is the net weight (in pounds) of a motor vehicle that includes the weight of the load that is being carried.
Net weight – is the actual scale weight (in pounds) with all of its equipment.
Truck – is any motor vehicle that possesses a net weight of 5,000 pounds (or less) and is primarily designed to transport goods, It includes a rack, a platform, a cabinet box or other goods carrying equipment that don’t include passenger’s personal effects.
Heavy Truck – is any motor vehicle that possesses a net weight of more than 5,000 pounds. It is registered according to its gross weight per statute s. 320.08(4). It is primarily designed to transport goods. It includes a rack, a platform, a cabinet box or other goods carrying equipment that don’t include passenger’s personal effects.
Truck Tractor – is a motor vehicle that possesses four (or more) wheels. It is also equipped with a fifth wheel for the purpose of the attachment and drawing of a semitrailer.Limitations
State and Federal agencies, such as The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are mandated to oversee truck operations in order to limit overloaded truck accidents in Florida. They impose truck weight and size restrictions. There are several factors that will determine exactly how much a truck is actually able to carry. These will include; its’ braking ability, the number of the vehicle’s axels, its’ working load limit, its’ gross weight rating and its’ gross weight combination weight rating.
States enforce these restrictions through the use of inspection programs and highway weigh stations. Even so, overloaded and overweight trucks are still present in West Palm Beach and are responsible for an increasing number of overloaded truck accidents in Florida. Overall restrictions for commercial trucks are, as follows:
Semitrailers – The maximum weight that a semi is allowed to carry is:
- 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) on a single axle
- 34,000 lb (15,000 kg) on a tandem
- 80,000 lb (36,000 kg) total for any vehicle or combination
- The maximum weight, per axel, is 20,000 pounds with the axels spaced no less than 40 inches apart and no more than 96 inches apart.
Its maximum width is 8.5 ft (2.6 m) and no maximum height.
U.S. Semitruck – The maximum weight (with full trailer) is 80,000 pounds that is distributed over 18 wheels. (23 U.S.C. 127).
Trucks must also be equipped with a rear-end underride protection device according to 49 C.F.R. s. 393.86.
It is equipped with a substantial rear-end underride protection device meeting the requirements of 49 C.F.R. s. 393.86, “Rear End Protection.”Specific Florida Statutes
Under Florida statute s. 316.550:
In a truck tractor-semitrailer combination, the semitrailer cannot exceed 48 feet in its overall outside dimension. This is measured from the unit’s front to its rear. This will usually exclude energy conservation and safety devices that have been approved to be utilized on open roads, by the Florida Department of Transportation.
In order to operate a semitrailer that is over than 48 feet in its lengths, may only operate in Florida if a special permit is used s. 316.550.
Should you become injured in a West Palm Beach overweight or overloaded truck accident, there are several things that you should know regarding your right to compensation. For example, you may be able to hold the trucking company and the truck driver accountable for your injuries, if you are able to establish liability.
In these particular types of accidents, the basis of a defendant’s liability is generally one of negligence. Here, you may wish to show that the defendant has failed to exercise the care that someone who was reasonably prudent would, when it comes to circumstances that were similar. Specifically, this entails:
- Failure to exercise reasonable care
- The defendant’s breach of the duty (for example, by overloading the truck)
- The result of this breach directly caused the damages and injuries that you sustained
A trucking company may be held directly and/or vicariously liable for the West Palm Beach truck accident that was caused by the overweight/overloaded truck. An example of this would be if the truck company incorrectly calculated the weight of the cargo. This would amount to negligence on the part of the trucking company.
The employer of the commercial truck driver may be held vicariously liable for their truck driver’s negligence if that negligence was within the truck driver’s scope of employment. This entails the driver furthering the employer’s interests.
When it comes to determining liability for this type of truck accident, one may run into a number of complications. The commercial truck driver may have been at fault and/or the trucking company may also be responsible for the truck accident. The loading company may be responsible for overloading the truck or they may have been given a directive to do so by the company. As you can see, the negligence for the accident can involve more than one party on certain occasions.
Whether your trucking accident was the result of obvious negligence or not, you may still need assistance when it comes to handling the aftermath. These issues can include; pain and suffering, loss of income, medical bills and the resulting injuries. This is why it can be necessary to secure an experienced West Palm Beach truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. An experienced attorney can:
That critical evidence remains intact and isn’t destroyed/hidden. One way that this can be done is by an attorney obtaining a court order that will prevent the trucking company from moving the wrecked truck to a hidden location. This would make it impossible to inspect the truck for evidence that led to the accident.
An experienced truck accident attorney will also know how to recreate the accident scene in order to determine exactly what happened.
An attorney will know what type of evidence is needed in order to determine liability.
If the truck is equipped with a “black box” that contains important data, an attorney can have it subpoenaed. This needs to occur before any of its critical information is destroyed. It’s likely that a trucking company would not willingly just hand over the black box. They may need to be compelled by the court.
When it comes to the statutes of limitations, which pertain to the State of Florida for the amount of time that one has when it comes to filing a personal injury claim, is four years (from the date of the accident). However, if a fatality is involved, the family of the one who was killed has two years in order to file a wrongful death claim.
If you are a survivor of a West Palm Beach truck accident, you may be dealing with the loss of your vehicle and injuries that can take a long time to heal. Or they may never heal. “Typical” injuries that are associated with truck accidents may involve; internal injuries, broken bones, burns, partial or total paralysis, disfigurement, limb amputations and traumatic brain injuries.
In some cases, a victim may wonder if they will be able to return to work or whether their life will ever be the way that it once was. There may also be concerns as to how to provide for their family. There are numerous cases in which the victim of this type of accident has been left with pain and limited mobility for the rest of their lives. In addition to the physical damages, there are also mental repercussions, as well. Severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may follow the horrendous circumstances of this type of accident and may require on-going psychiatric care.
By acting quickly in your claim, you can potentially avoid what is termed “spoliation of evidence”. This is the intentional destruction or alteration of evidence. Evidence that no longer exists or is otherwise no longer available can significantly interfere with a personal injury claim. Florida courts may sanction the party responsible for any spoliation of evidence, but obtaining evidence as soon as possible after an accident can support a claim and potentially prevent any spoliation.
When you have been involved in a West Palm truck overload or overweight accident, it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney, in order to try to receive the best care and compensation that you rightfully deserve. Therefore, when you are involved in a West Palm Beach vehicle accident, seek immediate medical care and contact a Florida personal injury attorney.
Discuss Your Case with a Truck Accident Personal Injury Attorney Serving West Palm Beach Today! If you were injured in a vehicle accident in West Palm Beach, turn to Frankl & Kominsky for comprehensive legal guidance. Call (561) 800-8000 or use our Contact Form to set up a free consultation.