Miami Truck Accident Lawyer
Motor vehicle crashes are dangerous situations, but those involving large trucks can be particularly worrisome. Large shipping trucks (commonly referred to as tractor-trailers or big rigs) have the potential to seriously injure other motorists and cause extreme property damage. If you were injured in a trucking accident, it’s important to know your rights and options for legal recourse.
Trucking Industry Standards
Truck drivers face one of the most challenging jobs today. They drive large, oversized vehicles for extended periods of time, are forced to minimize wasted minutes, and must meet tight deadlines for pickups and deliveries. Their vehicles must also withstand long driving sessions and constant use. Some of the most commonly cited reasons for truck accidents include:
- Driver fatigue. Shipping companies must ensure that their drivers don’t exceed acceptable shift times and receive adequate rest between shifts. Sometimes drivers push themselves to meet deadlines and drive their vehicles while tired. Driving without adequate rest is almost as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. A sleepy driver suffers impaired judgment, slower reaction time, and limited situational awareness.
- Driving under the influence. Driving while intoxicated is never a wise or safe decision for any motorist, and this is particularly true when truck drivers operate their vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Poor truck maintenance. Shipping companies must ensure their vehicles are safe. Poor or incomplete maintenance of a large truck endangers the truck driver and everyone else on the road.
- Improperly stowed cargo. A truck’s cargo must be properly secured while in transit. Some types of cargo require special equipment to ensure a balanced load, and other types of cargo, such as timber, concrete pipe sections, spools of industrial wires, framing studs, passenger vehicles, and construction equipment or vehicles, may require a special trailer. An imbalanced load can cause the truck to swerve from normal maneuvers, creating a driving hazard to nearby motorists.
Common Work Injuries for Truck Drivers
Working as a truck driver is a rewarding yet difficult job. Long hours on the road alone, sitting down for 40-plus hours per week, and eating on the go can all cause health problems – not to mention the risk of traffic accidents. The conditions of the workplace for a full-time trucker can result in job-specific injuries, illnesses, and health conditions. Learn the most common work injuries for truck drivers, and what to do if you suffer an injury on the job.
Truck Accident Injuries
In 2016, there were 41,246 commercial vehicle crashes throughout Florida, with 8,314 in Miami-Dade County. Trucking accidents can occur due to drowsy driving, distracted driving, vehicle part failure, and hazardous roadway conditions. Common truck driver injuries in accidents include bone fractures, abrasions, facial injuries, head and brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 81% of fatal injuries to truck drivers occur in transportation incidents. Truck drivers can help prevent accidents by obeying the rules of the road and those from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Truck driving jobs come with a high risk of overexertion, strain, and sprain injuries. Musculoskeletal disorders of the back and neck are common, especially in truck drivers who have to load and unload cargo. Truck drivers may also suffer muscle injuries from sitting in the driver’s seat for long hours at a time. Injuries to the back and wrists are common in long-term drivers.
Falls from the truck, into openings, and on staircases are all risks for truck drivers. Truckers can suffer slip, trip, and fall injuries entering or exiting their vehicles or while walking in loading zones. Common fall-related injuries for truck drivers include knee and back sprains from falling out of the vehicle or falling on the same level.
Struck By Objects or Equipment
A large number of truck driver injuries occur each year due to driver contact with objects or equipment. About 19% of all nonfatal truck driver injuries from 2003 to 2012 came form contact with objects or equipment. Objects such as hitched trailers, containers, vehicle parts, lift-gates, winch bars, boxes, cartons, or chains may all strike and injure drivers.
Job-Related Conditions and Illnesses
Long hours on the road can be tough on the body and mind. Long-haul trucker health surveys show disproportionate amounts of sleep apnea, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, joint and back pain, cancer, and stroke in long-haul truck drivers. Cigarette smoking, poor eating habits, and lack of exercise can all contribute to these health conditions.
Remedies for Injured Truck Drivers
As a truck driver, workers’ compensation claims can get complicated. If you’re an independent contractor, your company’s workers’ compensation insurance may not apply to you. Verify your status as either an employee or a contractor after a work injury. Misclassifications of employees are common issues.
Even as an independent contractor, you may be eligible for workers’ comp coverage if your injuries occurred due to cargo shifting, loading, or poor vehicle maintenance. If the negligence of the trucking company, another driver, or product manufacturer contributed to your injuries, you could have a personal injury claim. Discuss your case with an attorney.
Potential Damage from Truck Accidents
Trucks are much larger than other motor vehicles, so the potential for damage resulting from an accident is much higher. When a truck driver loses control, the tractor-trailer may jackknife, the trailer swinging out to the side of the truck, often into other lanes of traffic. Trucks are also taller and heavier than other vehicles resulting in higher centers of gravity. This makes trucks particularly vulnerable to rollovers.
If you were injured in a truck accident, some of the damages you may be able to pursue include:
- Medical expenses. This includes the cost of emergency services at the scene of the incident, the cost of initial medical bills, any necessary surgeries, and the cost of any prescribed long-term treatments.
- Property damage. You can sue for damage to your vehicle and any possessions that were broken or destroyed in the accident.
- Pain and suffering. For particularly serious injuries, you can claim compensation for the physical and mental anguish that you experienced as a direct result of the incident.
- Wrongful death. If a loved one is killed in a truck accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
Your truck accident case may be a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent truck driver, a product liability claim against a defective truck part manufacturer, or a lawsuit against the shipping company for unsafe practices. Whatever the case may be, contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and rights as a victim.
For victims of truck accidents in the Miami and surrounding areas, contact STEINLAW today for a free consultation. Our top priority for every case is to maximize our client’s recovery. We will review the details of your incident and explore every possible avenue for compensation on your behalf.