Truck accidents thankfully make up a small number of the total motor vehicle crashes that occur on Florida roads every year, but statistics show that they are still massive in their devastation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that there are more than 10,300 crashes involving semis, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and other large commercial trucks every year statewide. Around 350 people are killed, while another 5,300 victims suffer injuries ranging from minor to catastrophic.
You may be aware that you have rights under Florida law, and the most logical party to hold accountable is the truck driver who caused the accident. However, a trucking company or other employer may also play a key role in terms of putting a safe truck and operator on the road. Failures with these responsibilities could also cause a truck crash, even when the employer is miles away from the collision. Your Miami truck accident lawyer will explain reasons to pursue the company as a potential party because it may be liable for the following.
The legal definition of negligence is a breach of the duty to exercise reasonable care when acting. For the truck driver, the negligent act that led to the accident could be speeding, failure to yield, or distracted driving. The driver’s employer may also be negligent in causing a truck crash through the ways it operates its business. Truck crashes might happen because the company failed to:
- Properly inspect, maintain, and make repairs to the fleet;
- Enforce Hours of Service (HOS) rules that prevent fatigued driving; or,
- Conduct an appropriate background check on the truck driver.
Another way a trucking company could be liable for a truck collision is through the employment relationship itself. Vicarious liability holds an employer accountable for accidents caused by the negligence of its employees. The key is whether they are performing job-related tasks and working within the scope of their employment, which would be the case if the truck driver was on the clock for the employer. On the off chance that the truck driver was using the semi for personal use, there may not be a situation of vicarious liability.
Some carriers use independent contractors to haul cargo, leasing the tractor portion of the truck. It might have been possible for companies to avoid vicarious liability because the driver is not an employee, but federal regulations prevent this scenario. The rules require the trucking company to take responsibility for all equipment during the lease, making the carrier liable. The term logo liability comes from the branding typically printed on the tractor, which creates the impression that the truck driver is an employee.
Discuss Legal Options With a Miami Truck Accident Attorney
For more information on employer liability for truck crashes in Florida, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. You can reach our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL, by calling (305) 371-6000 or visiting our website. We can set up a no-cost case evaluation to review your case and explain remedies.