Deadly Crash on I-75 Involved Multiple Semi-Trucks
Investigators believe that a mechanical failure on an eighteen-wheeler may have caused a fireball crash near Lake City. The horrific wreck shut down part of Interstate 75 for more than a day.
Investigators believe that a northbound semi-truck had problems with a tire or wheel, causing the driver to lose control. That semi veered into another semi, and both of them barrelled through the guardrail and across the median onto the southbound side. There, they collided with a third semi truck and a passenger vehicle, where two of the large trucks burst into flame. One person was killed and two others were injured.
Authorities say they must evaluate the road’s surface to see if it needs repair before they can even consider reopening the affected lanes.
First Party Liability in Truck Crashes
Out-of-control fires are quite common in large truck crashes. These vehicles often carry hundreds of gallons of fuel. Additionally, since diesel fuel burns at a different temperature from ordinary gasoline, the resulting burns are often quite serious.
These injuries require extensive and costly treatment at special burn centers. Complications are commonplace, and even a slight complication may cause medical bills to skyrocket.
Driver error causes most truck crashes. That error could be an operational mistake, like speeding, or, as in the above story, the error could be a failure to properly maintain the vehicle. Truck drivers, like airplane pilots, should usually perform pre-operational checks. Many times, both drivers and pilots either skip this step altogether or sleepwalk through the evaluation.
Operational errors usually involve the negligence per se doctrine. In Florida, drivers who speed or commit other moving violations are presumptively negligent. A Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney just needs a little more evidence, such as an excessive speed at least 10mph over the limit, to establish responsibility for damages.
Mechanical errors usually involve ordinary negligence, which is a lack of care. Negligence is easier to establish in commercial operators, because these drivers have a higher duty of care. Moreover, an attorney can usually introduce a driver’s Safety Measurement System report into evidence. An SMS report is basically a multi-state driving record which keeps track of things like equipment violations.
The SMS report draws on law enforcement sources. So, if a driver receives a fix-it ticket in California and addresses the violation, the ticket probably will not show up in judicial records. But it will appear in law enforcement records.
Third Party Liability
Because of the catastrophic injuries mentioned above, many individual tortfeasors (negligent drivers) do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation.
Fortunately, Florida has a very broad respondeat superior rule. This legal doctrine states that employers are legally responsible for negligence damages if:
- Employee: The tortfeasor must have been an employee at the time of the crash. Independent contractors and owner-operators are usually employees for negligence purposes. The shipping company controls the driver in terms of things like cargo carried and route travelled.
- Scope of Employment: Any act which benefits the employer in any way is usually within the scope of employment. That could include driving an empty truck back to the warehouse.
Damages in a truck crash claim normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.
Partner with a Tenacious Lawyer
Large truck crashes often cause extremely serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury claims.