truck on highway

Of all the motor vehicle accidents someone can be involved in, truck accidents are the more serious and devastating. Because of their extremely large size and weight, these vehicles can be difficult to control; when they collide with other vehicles, they do so with life-threatening force. For victims of truck accidents, the pain goes beyond physical. They must struggle to get the money needed to pay medical bills, recoup lost earnings, get physical rehabilitation, and other life changes. Making things worse, trucking companies would rather underpay or delay compensation, or, worse, deny any responsibility for an accident at all.

If you were injured in a semi-truck crash in Miami, you need seasoned legal counsel who can take on the trucking and insurance companies to compensate you for your losses. Contact Gregg M. Goldfarb, LLP today to discuss your legal options for pursuing compensation.

As a partner with premier truck accident law firms across Florida, Gregg works to help injury victims obtain justice and accountability. Reach out today for a free initial consultation with a Miami truck accident lawyer.

What Is Considered a Truck in Florida?

Florida law defines a “truck” as a vehicle weighing 5,000 pounds or less, designed or principally used to carry goods other than the personal effects of the occupants. The statute defines a “heavy truck” as a vehicle with a net vehicle weight of over 5,000 pounds, designed or used to carry goods or designed or equipped with a connecting device to draw a trailer. Finally, the law defines a “truck tractor” as a vehicle with four or more wheels designed or equipped with a fifth wheel to draw a semi-trailer.

What Are the State and Federal Trucking Laws?

State trucking regulations impose weight and dimensional limits on commercial trucks. A truck’s maximum weight limit depends on factors like the distance between a truck’s first and last axles, the number of axles a truck has, and the distance between any group of two or more consecutive axles. Florida truck dimensional limits include the following:

  • Maximum width of 102 inches, or 96 inches when traveling in a lane less than 12 feet wide
  • Maximum height of 13 feet, six inches, or 14 feet for automobile transporters
  • Maximum length of 40 feet for single-unit vehicles, 48 feet for a truck tractor with semi-trailer, 68 feet for a straight truck with trailer, or 50 feet for automobile transporters

Trucks that exceed weight or dimensional limits must obtain an overweight or oversized permit to operate on public roads.

Florida also requires truck drivers to obtain a commercial driver’s license and endorsements as needed to haul specific cargo or operate certain types of trucks.

Finally, state and federal law limits the amount of time a truck driver may spend on duty and driving. These hours-of-service rules include:

  • Drivers may drive up to 11 hours after an off-duty period of at least 10 consecutive hours.
  • Drivers may not drive past the 14th hour after coming on duty following an off-duty period of at least 10 consecutive hours.
  • Drivers may extend these limits by up to two hours when encountering adverse driving conditions.
  • Drivers must take a break of at least 30 minutes after driving for eight hours following the driver’s last break or off-duty period.
  • Drivers may not drive after spending 60 hours on duty within seven days or 70 hours within eight days. These periods reset after an off-duty period of at least 34 consecutive hours.

Why Are Truck Collisions More Complicated Than Other Motor Vehicle Accidents?

People injured in truck accidents often face challenges in pursuing compensation for their losses due to the unique circumstances of commercial truck crashes. Some of the reasons why truck collisions are more complicated than other motor vehicle accidents include the following:

  • A truck accident case can involve many more pieces of evidence due to the amount of recordkeeping trucking companies must undertake. Examples of evidence unique to truck accident claims include truck driver hours-of-service logs, truck maintenance/repair records, logs from the truck’s event data recorder (“black box”), truck driver post-trip inspection reports, and cargo manifests.
  • Truck accidents often have multiple liable parties who may fight with one another to assign financial responsibility for accident victims’ losses.
  • Truck accidents can injure many more people than car accidents, potentially complicating the resolution of truck accident injury claims if a trucking company lacks insurance coverage to compensate everyone fully or if the trucking company wants to settle with everyone simultaneously.
  • Trucking companies may have complicated insurance coverage structures that make determining the true extent of their available coverage challenging.

What Are the Common Types and Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents?

Big rigs are involved in various types of accidents. Some of the most common types of truck crashes include:

  • Head-on collisions
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Side-impact/T-bone collisions
  • Sideswipe collisions
  • Underride accidents
  • Jackknife accidents
  • Rollover accidents
  • Cargo accidents

Many semi-truck accidents happen due to careless or reckless actions by a truck driver or trucking company. Examples of common causes of commercial truck accidents include:

  • Speeding or traveling too fast for conditions
  • Tailgating/following too closely
  • Improper wide turns
  • Not using turn signals or checking mirrors before turning or changing lanes
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Disregarding traffic signals and road signs
  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy/fatigued driving
  • Driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
  • Aggressive driving/road rage
  • Reckless driving
  • Truck driver inexperience
  • Unsafe cargo loads, including excessive or unbalanced weight or unsecured items
  • Inadequate truck/trailer maintenance