Several highway truck routes throughout the Tampa Bay region, including I-275, run right through downtown St. Petersburg. Despite an extensive highway system, roadways frequently become heavily congested, which is a hassle to all and a hazard to those driving commercial trucks that lack the maneuverability and ability to stop quickly that smaller, lighter-weight vehicles possess.
If you have been involved in a tractor-trailer collision, an experienced personal injury attorney from Perenich Law Injury Attorneys can assist you with your claim. Call now to speak with a St. Petersburg truck accident lawyer.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in St. Petersburg
Regional ports and rail lines are important to the economy of St. Petersburg, as they provide a way for imports to arrive in the country and head to their destinations. Additionally, these ports and trains provide the logistics for transporting exports from the U.S. to other parts of the world. All of this trade activity guarantees a higher number of commercial trucks (commonly referred to as semi-trucks or tractor-trailers) on the roadways around the city.
Commercial trucks are massive vehicles, weighing 20-30 times more than a passenger car when fully loaded, and measuring around 72 inches from the front of the cab (tractor) to the back of the trailer.
The increased size restricts the maneuverability of the truck, creating:
Significant blind spots on all four sides of the vehicle.
The need to make wide turns to negotiate corners.
An increased distance needed to stop a truck.
A higher center of gravity, which makes the vehicle prone to rolling over.
A high ground clearance, which can allow vehicles to slip beneath the truck during an accident.
These enormous trucks increase the duty of care the driver owes. Truck drivers must obtain a special license to operate the truck, and additional training to transport hazardous materials.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry. Unfortunately, despite the precautions and trucking industry regulations, the leading cause of St. Petersburg truck accidents is driver error.
Driver Errors that Lead to St. Petersburg Tractor-Trailer Collisions
Truck drivers, trucking companies, those responsible for maintaining or manufacturing parts of the truck, and even others on the roadway can cause a serious or even deadly St. Petersburg truck accident. Here is a look at some of the most common human errors that result in truck accidents.
According to the FMCSA, approximately 13 percent of truck drivers in crashes were fatigued. Truck driver fatigue is a major concern that has prompted regulations about how many hours a driver can work before being required to take an off-duty break. Interestingly, however, studies have shown that fatigue is more often related to the time of day when the driver is working than the amount of time on the job.
Truck drivers often work during late-night hours to avoid traffic congestion. Late-night driving can increase the risk of accidents as the human body instinctively wants to sleep during hours of darkness.
Truck drivers also have a higher-than-average rate of sleep apnea, which is a sleep-related breathing condition in which the sufferer temporarily pauses breathing, sometimes dozens of times a night. The condition causes the sufferer to feel untested even if they have obtained the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep necessary for optimal function.
The FMCSA has also discovered that truck accidents are most common within the first hour the driver is on the road after an off-duty break. This is particularly true if the trucker took the break in the sleeper berth and the driver began working immediately after waking up. This is often due to sleep inertia, a temporary impairment of the tasks needed for safe driving that occurs for about an hour after rising.
Many of the deficits to driving skills created by driver fatigue are similar to those created by alcohol impairment, such as the inability to maintain a single lane of travel, control speed, respond appropriately in emergency driving situations, or make sound decisions about driving.
Driver distractions are a major cause of all types of motor vehicle accidents, including those involving trucks. One of the most dangerous forms of driver distraction is texting and other handheld mobile devices.
Texting involves all of the three types of driving distractions.
Manual distractions cause the driver to take their hands from the wheel.
Visual distractions cause the driver to take their eyes from the road.
Cognitive distractions draw the driver’s mind from the task of driving safely.
FMCSA prohibits truck drivers from using handheld devices while behind the wheel. Other types of distractions that can result in a truck accident include eating, drinking, smoking, visiting with passengers, and external distractions such as other drivers, previous accident sites, or work zones.
The FMCSA requires CDL-holders to routinely submit to drug and alcohol screening and has lowered the alcohol impairment limit for CDL-holders to 0.04 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, which is half the impairment limit permitted for adult drivers of passenger cars. Despite these regulations, many drivers are either tempted to bend the rules, or inadvertently impair themselves with prescription or over-the-counter medications that have intoxicating effects.
Alcohol impairment deprives the driver of the skills needed to operate their motor vehicle safely, including the ability to track moving targets, multi-task, control speed, and maintain their travel lane.
Speeding not only decreases the amount of time a driver has to perceive and respond to hazards on the roadway, but it also increases the distance a heavy truck will require to come to a complete stop. Additionally, it makes it difficult for other drivers to judge a safe gap in traffic to enter a travel lane.
Truck drivers must obtain and maintain a CDL to operate the truck and obtain further training to obtain the credentials needed to transport hazardous materials. However, driving the truck and the safe transport of materials is only a portion of the skills that truck drivers exhibit during the scope of their work-related duties. Trucking companies must hire properly trained drivers who can handle the day-to-day difficulties and on-the-job decisions.
Lack of Maintenance
Trucks not only put on miles faster than personal automobiles, but those miles are hard ones due to the weight of the cargo they carry. Common truck parts that can prematurely wear and result in accidents include the braking system, the tires, or even the engine. The FMCSA requires trucking companies to commit to a regular maintenance schedule. Truckers must also visually inspect the vehicle before driving it to find visible signs of wear that could indicate hazards when operating it.
The manufacturers and distributors of parts used on the truck and other automobiles on the roadway must ensure that these parts work when used according to labeled instructions. If the accident resulted from a defective part, you could seek compensation from any party in the manufacturing chain through a product liability claim.
Frequently Asked Questions About Seeking Compensation After a St. Petersburg Semi-Truck Crash
Truck accidents are often complex cases due to the federal regulations of the industry and the type of evidence needed to prove the claim. Additionally, trucking industry insurers employ high-powered lawyers and adjusters to reduce the payouts for accidents and injuries their insureds cause. Contact our knowledgeable truck accident lawyers in St. Petersburg for answers to the questions you have about your specific claim. Contact Perenich Law Injury Attorneys today.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
There can be several potentially liable parties, depending on the circumstances of your accident, including:
The truck driver
The trucking company
Other roadway users, including drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians
The individual or entity responsible for maintaining the truck
The manufacturer of defective parts used on the truck or other vehicles
The agency tasked with maintaining the roadway
Your dedicated St. Petersburg truck accident attorney will provide a thorough investigation to determine all sources of liability and insurance resources you can access to fairly compensate you.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Receive?
The injury-related expenses and impacts that you can seek compensation for after a St. Petersburg truck accident include:
Loss of earning capacity
Property damage (damage to your vehicle)
Physical pain and suffering
How Long Do You Have to File Your St. Petersburg Truck Accident Claim?
If you wish to file your claim in court as a personal injury lawsuit, Florida allows you two years after the injury occurred to do so.
Do You Need an Attorney, or Can You File the Claim on Your Own?
Truck accidents are complex endeavors that require a lot of knowledge of the regulations about the trucking industry, the available evidence, and the legal process of obtaining compensation. A St. Petersburg 18-wheeler crash attorney can offer this experience to your claim, increasing the likelihood of obtaining fair compensation for your injury.
What Happens If You Lose a Loved One in a Truck Accident?
Family members of individuals who died in an accident involving a commercial truck in St. Petersburg can seek compensation through a Florida wrongful death claim. This is similar to a personal injury lawsuit, except a personal representative (executor) of the estate must file it within two years of the death.
The type of compensation you can obtain through a wrongful death claim includes:
Loss of the support and services the deceased provided.
Loss of companionship, instruction, and guidance.
Medical and funeral expenses paid by family members or by the estate.
Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings that the deceased would have made throughout their career.
Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings from the moment of injury until the time of death.
How Can You Speak With an Attorney About Your Claim?
The legal team at Perenich Law Injury Attorneys has six conveniently located offices throughout the Tampa Bay region, including one at 111 2nd Ave NE in St. Petersburg. We offer free case evaluations, which are a time for you to obtain legal answers to the questions you have about your case, learn more about the personal injury claims process, and learn about the services we provide. Simply call or contact us for your no-cost, no-obligation evaluation.
Get in Touch with a St. Petersburg Truck Accident Attorney
If you were injured or lost a loved one due to an accident involving a semi-truck, a St. Petersburg truck accident lawyer from Perenich Law Injury Attorneys can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury. For your free case evaluation, contact us today.
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