How often do truck accidents happen in Florida? Learn about Florida truck accident facts and statistics, causes, and those liable for these collisions.
Trucks (large vehicles like semi-trailers) are necessary as they convey goods from one part of the country to the other. Large trucks in Florida either bring in items, including food or transport them to other states or intrastate. The number of these vehicles on the road, coupled with driver negligence, means they are likely to get in collisions.
The size of trucks also places them at higher risk for fatal crashes and extensive property damage. This is more so when they collide with passenger vehicles. Trucks weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger cars. The severity of trucking accidents is the reason for several personal injury claims against drivers and their trucking companies.
This article looks at Florida truck accident statistics and facts. It also covers causes of injury and fatal truck crashes, the parties' victims can sue for compensation. If you or a loved one is a truck accident victim, contact a Florida truck accident lawyer at VG Law Group immediately.
Trucking accidents are a national problem and not peculiar to Florida alone. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 5,237 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses in 2019. However, the number went down 1.3% in 2020. These collisions also resulted in severe injuries.
The crash statistics are not so different in Florida. Below is a breakdown of the Florida truck accident statistics from 2020.
There were 341,399 motor vehicle crashes, of which 3,098 were fatal accidents, and 3,332 people died. Out of that number, medium/heavy trucks weighing more than 10,000 lbs caused:
Light trucks weighing less than 10,000 lbs caused:
In 2019, a report listed Florida as one of the top three states for large truck and bus crashes. That year 202 people died in 182 crashes after colliding with these large vehicles. Most of these accidents happened on major roads, with few on minor or rural roadways.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, most truck drivers' traffic accidents occur between midnight and 3 a.m. Other risky times are 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. These hours are based on the 2019 highway statistics report.
Accidents involving heavy trucks happen primarily because of human error. The latter manifests itself in several ways, but we discuss the three most common below.
Most roadway collisions in the United States and Florida have driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol as the primary factor. According to the National Safety Council, for more than 20 years, drivers with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08% have remained involved in about one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S.
Drunk driving is common among truck drivers as they drink to stay alert after long hours on the roadway. However, alcohol has the opposite effect: it limits the motorist's cognitive ability. This, in turn, reduces their reaction time.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reports that truck braking capability can be a factor in truck crashes. Loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, and the discrepancy is more significant on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes.
Distracted drivers are among the leading contributors to truck crashes. Distractions can be mental, visual, or manual. Large trucks require more concentration and physical power to control than passenger vehicles. In addition, their height and size mean drivers must always have their eyes on the road to see smaller vehicles and avoid pedestrian accidents.
However, truckers may be distracted by their phones, GPS devices, food, etc. Sometimes, these distractions involve their hands, eyes, and mind simultaneously, increasing the possibility of a crash. Distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2020, so truckers must do all they can to avoid such motor vehicle deaths.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has the number of hours truck drivers must spend traveling one interstate highway to the next. Under the hours of service regulation, property-carrying drivers may drive up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Also, they may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The FMCSA also instructs that drivers must take a 30-minute break when they have driven for 8 cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption.
If there are other truck occupants aside from the driver, the motorist may drive a maximum of 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty. Additionally, they must not drive after being on duty for 15 hours, following eight consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15 hours.
When drivers fail to obey this regulation, they feel fatigued and engage in drowsy driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2017, 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers. The danger with fatigued driving is that it creates the same limitations seen in drunk drivers.
Other factors that result in truck collisions are aggressive driving, blind spots, reckless driving, overloaded cargo, and adverse road conditions. Weather conditions, driving or the speed limit, and disobeying traffic signs also contribute.
The risk of fatal crashes increases when road users fail to wear seat belts. This could lead to getting ejected from the vehicle in the case of a head-on collision. Passenger vehicle drivers should also ensure they have child safety seats when traveling with minors. Doing this reduces the rate of fatality accidents.
A nonfatal crash would result in minor, severe, or catastrophic injuries depending on the crash impact. Some of these wounds are:
Medical treatment for these wounds may result in medical bills your personal injury protection insurance cannot cover. It could also be that the crash caused a deformity, disfigurement, or the loss of a body part. In such cases, you can file a compensation claim against the at-fault driver even if Florida is a no-fault car accident state.
If you win, you'll get economic and non-economic damages. These two make up compensatory damages and they cover:
If there is evidence of gross negligence on the truck driver's part, you can request punitive damages. The latter can only be awarded by a court and not an insurance company. Also, it punishes the negligent party for their actions and serves to deter them and others from similar acts in the future.
Proving fault means establishing the doctrine of negligence. It means you must show that the truck driver owed you a duty of care, breached it, caused the crash, and you suffered damages as a result.
Furthermore, you need several pieces of evidence to establish the truck driver's guilt. This includes:
While it's possible to gather this proof alone, an experienced lawyer can help you put them together. This is more so if your injuries keep you hospitalized for a long time. So, consult personal injury attorneys immediately after the accident.
Unlike most traffic collisions where liability is immediately clear, truck accidents are different. This is mainly because several parties might share liability for the collision. Below are those you can bring a claim against for your injuries and property damage.
Note that you can sue one or more of the above simultaneously. A lawyer will examine the case facts and identify all those with liability.
An accident can change your entire life instantly, leaving you with injuries and expensive medical bills to pay. Alternatively, you may lose a loved one. Neither you nor them should end up only as a truck accident statistics number.
Take action by getting compensation for the physical, mental, emotional, and financial losses suffered. Our Florida truck accident attorneys at the VG Law Group can help you get justice. We will fight to get you fairly compensated for your injuries. Book a free initial consultation with us today.