Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim After a Fatal Truck Accident in Florida?Nationwide, over 75% of the people who die as a result of a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, or truck accident are people in automobiles, people riding bikes, or people walking near roadways. Pretty much anyone other than the truck driver is at a huge risk of suffering fatal injuries in a trucking accident. Florida is no exception to this nationwide statistic, and Orlando has more than its fair share of fatal trucking accidents.

Many of the fatal truck accidents that occur in Florida could easily have been prevented with the use of reasonable care. In other words, negligent or careless truckers are needlessly killing our friends, family, and children. While there a few circumstances where these drivers can be punished criminally for their deeds and thrown in jail, there are many ways we may be able to get justice through the civil justice system. Moreover, while jail is serious for the driver of the truck, money is what the trucking companies are concerned about. Thus, a wrongful death lawsuit or a trucking accident lawsuit may be the best way to get the attention of these companies and encourage them to change their behavior to make our roads a safer place.

At our law firm, we represent families who have lost loved ones in a fatal truck accident. Under Florida law, close family members, like children, a surviving spouse, or surviving parents are some of the people who may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their deceased loved one. Although there’s nothing that can bring their loved one back, these close family members can help ensure that bad actors don’t escape unpunished.

Causes of Truck Accidents in Florida

Truck drivers have a serious responsibility because they are in total control of 80,000 pounds of twisted metal barreling down our highways at 70 miles per hour. Even a minor mistake on the part of one of these folks can kill. Every day, a truck driver’s carelessness or negligence kills someone or causes irreparable damage to a person and to that person’s family. Here are some of the more common reasons truck accidents occur.

Drowsy and Fatigued Driving

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has rules relating to the maximum number of hours a truck driver can go without stopping to sleep or take a break. These are called hours of service regulations. This information is typically kept in a “logbook,” which is like a journal every truck driver is supposed to keep to document the trucker’s hours driven. The hours of service rules are in place to prevent drowsy truck drivers from killing people. However, truck drivers sometimes break these rules. Accordingly, our truck accident lawyers will review logbook information to determine if the truck driver violated the hours-of-service rules.

Failure to Obey Traffic Laws

Truck drivers often cause accidents because they drive too fast for conditions, drive over the speed limit, or follow other drivers too closely. All drivers have a duty to maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. However, this is especially true for truck drivers because a fully loaded truck may need the length of a football field to come to a stop. We’ve all looked into our rearview mirror to see the grill of an 18-wheeler creeping up on our rear windshield. For some, this is the last thing they see before they die. What a horrifying way to go.

Drunk Driving

Truck drivers, like any other drivers, have a responsibility to avoid driving while under the influence. The FMCSA provides that truck drivers be held to a higher standard regarding alcohol. Namely, truck drivers are held to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of .04 percent, while automobile drivers over the age of 21 are held to a BAC of .08 percent. Thus, a truck driver that blows a .04 can be arrested for DUI.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Alcohol isn’t the only substance that leads to horrific truck accidents. Many truckers use drugs. We all know that truck driving is not an easy job. It’s very demanding, and it can get lonely out on the road. Moreover, truckers are often paid by the mile, rather than by the hour. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for truckers to take stimulant drugs, like cocaine, amphetamines, stimulant pills, and other drugs to help them stay awake and keep driving. In addition to stimulant drugs, truckers may take prescription pills that cause drowsiness or other side effects that make them dangerous to other drivers on the road.

Inadequate Training

As we have mentioned, truck drivers carry a tremendous responsibility. They are trusted with an amount of force that is far beyond deadly. Therefore, when a company puts a driver on the road, that driver needs to be well-trained and ready to handle the responsibilities of driving an 80,000 lb death machine. When a company puts a trucker on the road that isn’t properly trained, the company is putting all the other drivers on the road in needless danger. Unfortunately, this happens all the time because truckers have been in very high demand over recent years.

Aggressive Driving

Truck drivers who treat their semi-truck like a sports car are asking for a fatal accident to occur. Of course, the truck driver is probably safe from harm or death because that driver is in a vehicle that dwarfs other cars on the road. However, the other drivers’ lives are in danger when a truck driver makes aggressive moves or changes lanes aggressively. We have all witnessed these aggressive truck drivers, and it’s enough to send chills up your spine.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can be deadly in any situation involving any type of vehicle, whether it’s a car, boat, or a moped. However, distracted truck drivers are a serious and potentially deadly problem for other drivers on the road. Semi-trucks are extremely large vehicles, sometimes 80,000 pounds or more, and they are responsible for many deaths and debilitating injuries each year. Unfortunately, truck drivers often cause others serious harm every day because they are using a cell phone, tablet, or other electronic device while driving. This is a serious offense in a normal automobile, but it’s especially egregious when it comes to 18-wheelers.

Who is Liable When a Truck Driver Kills Someone?

The party that is liable for someone’s death as a result of a truck accident is the person or entity who acted carelessly and contributed to the death. Unlike your typical auto accident between two individuals, a truck accident can involve multiple potentially liable parties because multiple people and entities could have contributed to the cause of death. Below are some of the potentially liable parties in a truck accident:

  • The truck driver;
  • The trucking company that hired the truck driver;
  • The manufacturer of the truck or its component parts;
  • The entity responsible for maintaining and repairing the truck; and
  • The entity and people responsible for loading the cargo in or on the truck.

When there are multiple parties that contributed to the negligent killing of another, it’s critical that your attorney identify the responsible parties. Each party may carry a separate insurance policy that could contribute to the recovery in your case. Moreover, each negligent party should be held accountable for its actions so someone else does not needlessly die in a truck crash.

The investigation of your truck accident case is critical to identifying the responsible parties. Your attorney should begin investigating your case as soon as possible so that evidence is not needlessly lost or destroyed. Therefore, you need an attorney that can take your case personally and perform an investigation early on when it is most critical.  

Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit for a Fatal Truck Accident

In Florida, a wrongful death occurs when someone negligently, carelessly, or recklessly causes the death of another person. In other words, the decedent would not have died but for the actions of the negligent, careless, or reckless party.

The Florida wrongful death statute determines who may benefit from a wrongful death case in Florida. Basically, Florida wrongful death law provides that the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can stand in the shoes of the decedent and file a lawsuit against the negligent killer for the benefit of close family members, like a surviving wife, husband, child, or parent. The close family members may be entitled to a variety of damages, including medical bills associated with treating the decedent; funeral and burial costs; lost wages or income; and loss of service, support, guidance, protection, and companionship.

Contact a Florida Wrongful Death Attorney at Our Firm for Your FREE Legal Consultation

Our law firm is not a big box law firm, so you can rest assured that your case will get the attention it deserves. We offer personalized and exclusive service to people who need more from an attorney. Our law firm helps people who have suffered the most severe types of injuries, and we help people who have lost a loved one as a result of negligence.

If a careless truck driver took your loved one from you, we are here to fight to make sure everyone responsible for your loved one pays for what they have done. We’re here to help you ensure that nobody else has to go through what you’re going through. To schedule your free legal consultation, contact us on our website or give us a call at (321) 352-7588. We’re here when you need us.