Articles Posted in Trucking Accidents

Published on:

A 44-year-old man lost his life one day in 2011 when the driver of a semi-truck failed to yield as she entered a busy highway from a truck stop. Nothing would ever bring back the beloved husband, but who should be the one to pay damages? trucksontheroad

As in any truck accident case, there were many different entities – and two defendant insurance companies – involved. Commercial trucking companies are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to carry a certain amount of liability insurance. Those minimum levels are often far in excess of what you might encounter with a passenger vehicle, and the reason is because these massive vehicles have the potential to cause devastating levels of damage. That’s why a lot of these companies carry policies that are even in excess of the minimum.

But as the recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit case of Great West Cas. Co. v. Robbins shows, holding each of these firms accountable isn’t always easy.  Continue reading →

Published on:

One of the greatest dangers in a Fort Myers trucking accident is the risk of a smaller vehicle ending up underneath a large commercial trailer. So serious was this problem that in 1998, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented a requirement that vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more and manufactured after 1998 must be equipped with underride guards. These steel features are supposed to prevent other vehicles from ending up underneath a large truck, which is associated with catastrophic injuries. truck

The underride guard requirement only pertains to certain trucks and even then, only to the rear. The issue still affects a significant number of cases. For example, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that all the advances in modern vehicle technology are not effective if a vehicle ends up under a truck. The way most underride guards are designed, a passenger vehicle that rear-ends a semi-truck at an angle can still end up under the truck.

In 2011, of the more than 2,200 passenger vehicle occupant deaths in large truck accidents nationally, 260 died when the front of their vehicle struck the rear of a truck. It’s not clear exactly how many of those instances involved underride, but a 2011 study by IIHS found that of 115 fatal truck crashes, about half indicated severe or catastrophic underride damage.  Continue reading →

Published on:

You may have wondered why in injury litigation, we refrain from naming the insurer in the initial action. This is why, for example, you will see spouses suing each other for crash-related injuries, rather than suing the insurance company – even if that’s ultimately the goal.

The reason has to do with the fact that courts have found that the presence or lack of an insurance policy can be prejudicial in a civil case. The thinking is that if a jury is aware that a defendant has ample insurance, they may be more likely to award much higher damages to the victim than they would if they knew the defendant has no insurance and would be personally liable to pay damages.

The courts take this matter extremely serious, which is why the Court of of Appeals of Maryland (the highest court in that state) recently affirmed a reversal of a truck injury verdict and remanded the case for a new trial for a violation of this standard. The court noted that lack of insurance coverage is irrelevant and inadmissible in a lawsuit alleging negligent hiring where the evidence doesn’t establish the proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries.  Continue reading →

Published on:

Eyewitness testimony – whether in a criminal or civil trial – must be weighed carefully by all involved. On one hand, the word of someone who witnesses an event firsthand is powerful in a courtroom. On the other hand, it can be notoriously inaccurate.truck12

Last year, researchers published an article in the journal Memory that analyzed the capability of adult and child witnesses to accurately recollect events from the past and provide reliable testimony.  They concluded there were gaps in what the science of memory says about reliability and how such testimony is used in trial. It’s not that firsthand accounts aren’t valuable, but they need to be properly weighed and, if necessary, challenged.

It was the fallibility of an eyewitness account that resulted in summary judgment in favor of the defense in a trucking accident case before the Mississippi Supreme Court recently. In Moreno v. TLSL, Inc., the only one independent witness who saw the trucking accident that killed two people and seriously injured a third. Unfortunately, key elements of her recollection proved unreliable, and ultimately sunk the case.  Continue reading →

Published on:

Insurance companies have a responsibility to their insureds and those harmed by their insureds to timely pay fair sums for legitimate claims. When they fail to do this, they may be sued for acting in bad faith. truck4

F.S. 624.155 allows direct legal action against insurers who violate this tenant, and a finding in favor of the plaintiff may result in compensation for triple the amount of original damages.

Usually in auto accident cases, we represent injured parties who are either seeking UM/UIM (uninsred/underinsured motorist) benefits against their own insurance companies, or have been granted rights to pursue the insurer directly after securing a judgment against a defendant insured.  Continue reading →

Published on:

If you are a 17-year-old driver in Florida, you are restricted via the state’s Graduated Drivers Licensing law to operation of that vehicle between the hours of 5 a.m. and 1 a.m., and at all other times must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21-years-old in the passenger seat or be traveling to and from work.trucksontheroad1

Novice drivers aren’t eligible for a full license before they reach 18. But now, if a bill moving its way through the U.S. Senate is successful, newly-licensed 18-year-olds will be considered qualified for a job on a big rig.

Federal law currently prohibits drivers under 21 from operating semi-trucks and tractor-trailers across state borders. Some states do allow 18-year-olds to operate these vehicles, but they can’t haul from state-to-state, which doesn’t make them good candidates for most long-haul trucking positions. Continue reading →

Published on:

Insurance companies have a broad duty to defend policyholders in actions where they are accused of liability. One example would be an auto accident. truckforward

While this may seem of little consequence to the plaintiff, it matters because plaintiffs are ultimately looking to hold the insurance companies liable. That’s because the insured individual likely has far fewer personal resources to pay actual damages. Insurance companies, meanwhile, exist for the purpose of protecting against risk and paying damage claims.

This is why often times if an insurer is wrongly denying a claim and/or duty to defend, plaintiff may settle with the defendant for the right to stand in defendant’s place and sue his or her insurance company for breach of contract and/or bad faith. Continue reading →

Published on:

All motorists are held to the same duty of care standard when operating a vehicle, and that is the duty of reasonable care. That means acting the same a reasonably prudent driver would under the same or similar circumstances.trucker

Semi-truck drivers are no different. However, there are in many ways held to a higher standard than others for several reasons. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires truck drivers and truck companies to adhere to certain drive-time limits, weight restrictions and training requirements in order to be road-worthy. That training involves teaching truckers to use extra care, remain alert and operate at a safe speed.

In the recent case of Dakter v. Cavallino, before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the question was whether jurors wrongly held the trucker had a higher standard of care when they were asked to weigh if he’d acted as a reasonably prudent truck driver would under similar circumstances. The state supreme court held that it did not, and affirmed the $1.1 million verdict in favor of injured plaintiff and his wife.

Published on:

Two passengers who sat in the back seat of a Crown Victoria had three strikes against them. chuckhole

In the first place, they were in a vehicle that had not been properly maintained, and thus suffered mechanical problems. In the second place, the driver who had been operating the vehicle was allegedly impaired by marijuana, which may have clouded his faculties as to how to appropriately respond to the situation. And in the third place, they were on a highway at night when this all happened, which put them at greater risk of being struck by fast-moving traffic.

Sadly, that’s exactly what happened. The driver of the stalled vehicle didn’t move the vehicle off the highway. Nor did he put his flashers on or give other motorists and indication the lane was blocked. An approaching truck failed to move out of the right lane, and struck the vehicle from behind. Both vehicles caught fire.

Published on:

Defendants in a trucking accident lawsuit that left a mother-of-four with traumatic brain injuries, unable to walk and relegated to a nursing home, are now fighting against their own lawyers after jurors awarded plaintiff a record $35 million in damages for her injuries.
The facts giving rise to this case began in October 2010, when a 53-year-old woman operating an 18-passenger bus slammed into a tractor trailer that had jackknifed ahead of her from the opposite direction on a highway in California. She had no time to stop or avoid a head-on crash.

Having once enjoyed an active social life, a 30-year marriage and four children, she was debilitated with multiple skull fractures, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, broken ribs, a broken jaw, numerous facial fractures, a lacerated liver and other injuries. She was in a coma for a month and hospitalized in intensive care for four months. She was paralyzed from the waist down. Once released, she was unable to afford the daily care she needed at home, she was essentially warehoused” in a nursing home, away from her family and without access to necessary therapies. Her days instead were spent watching television, staring at white walls and sleeping alone.
Continue reading →