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What Everyone Should Know About Commercial Truck Accidents

by | Jun 11, 2020

Does it seem to you like there are more and more big trucks on the road every day?  Well, you’re right!  In a study done by Parson/Brinkerhoff for the FDT, 70% of all truck traffic in Florida can be found in Marion County on I-75.  Because of its central location and proximity to I-75, Ocala has become home to many large distribution centers (FedEx, Chewy) and I-75 is a major distribution route in Florida.

Did you know that one person is injured or killed in a truck accident every 16 minutes?

The United States Department of Transportation estimates that over 500,000 truck accidents occur every year resulting in approximately 5,000 fatalities.  That’s almost 100 fatalities a week involving big rigs.

Did you know that trucking accidents should not be treated like auto accidents?

Both state and federal governments have recognized that big rigs pose extreme dangers to the public.  They have enacted a multitude of rules and regulations that govern all those involved in the trucking industry to try and protect the motoring public that share the roads with large trucks.  In Florida, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) and Florida’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requirements come into play.   An attorney familiar with trucking litigation will be able to investigate if the trucking company or the driver violated any of these regulations and those violations can be used as evidence of negligence in a trial.

Did you know that trucking companies can and do destroy evidence regarding crashes if it will hurt them?

The upside to technology in the trucking industry, like electronic on-board video cameras, electronic log books and GPS tracking devices, is that it can increase the efficiency, and the revenue, of a trucking company.  The downside is that it can absolutely prove the negligence of the truck driver or the trucking company.  There is no legal requirement that the trucking companies save this evidence unless they are put on notice to do so by an attorney or law enforcement.  In a case of catastrophic damages, you want an experienced trucking attorney on the case right away to put all potential parties (and there can be many) on notice to preserve all evidence.  If they are put on notice and they destroy the evidence anyway, a jury can be instructed by the Judge that they can infer that whatever evidence was destroyed was bad for the trucking company.

Do you know what to do if you are injured in an accident involving a commercial truck?

Seek medical help immediately and make sure that law enforcement has responded to the accident and made a report. Try and document everything.  Take pictures of the truck driver, all involved vehicles and the accident scene.  Make sure you get a picture of the company placard and the DOT number on the truck and trailer.  Often the truck and trailer are owned by different entities, i.e. potential defendants.  Never give any statements or sign anything until you have consulted with an attorney.  Again, time is of the essence in getting an attorney as evidence must be preserved and investigated.  After a truck crash, the trucking company has their safety officers and insurance lawyers on the case immediately. Hiring an experienced trucking lawyer will help to preserve evidence and immediately start an investigation by experts that have been hired on your behalf.

Did you know that Marianne Howanitz is a nationally recognized truck accident attorney?

I have represented many victims of truck crashes and tried numerous trucking cases right here in Marion County.  Trucks cause big damages.  By law, big trucking companies must be insured well and their lawyers fight hard (they’re paid by the hour).  Like you, I live here, I work here, and my family drives here.  I’m in this with you.  If trucking companies are negligent and they injure or kill someone, they must be held accountable.  So if you or a loved one are injured or killed in a big truck crash, call me right away. There is no charge to you unless we make a recovery for you.  Stay safe out there!