A truck accident in West Palm Beach can happen for any reason, but driver mistakes are often to blame. When a truck driver or their employer is negligent, they cause accidents with catastrophic injuries. Injury victims then need to prove who was at fault to file an insurance claim for all of their accident losses.
Get Expert Help On Your Side
Steinger, Greene & Feiner is here to help injury victims in West Palm Beach determine how negligence may have played a role in their accident. By looking at the most common causes of truck accidents in West Palm Beach, our attorneys can help you file a strong liability claim.
If you’ve been hurt and need assistance with your case, speak to an experienced West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer for free. Call us today at (561) 566-5021 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation case review.
When looking at a typical truck accident case that has occurred in West Palm Beach, the following are some of the most common causes of accidents we see.
In the largest study of fatal truck accident causes ever commissioned, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) noted that “traveling too fast for conditions” was the second-most common factor in the accidents they reviewed.
Twenty-three percent of all accidents recorded during the study period involved a driver who was going too fast. This can mean exceeding the posted limit or exceeding a safe speed. The latter is especially common on curved highway off-ramps, such as the dreaded exchange from Okeechobee Blvd. to I-95.
Many roads have set speed limits and recommended safe speeds for drivers. Truck drivers are supposed to understand the limits of their vehicle, including the speeds needed to safely navigate a turn while the vehicle is fully loaded.
When a driver exceeds a speed in a way that a professional would have known was unsafe, they can be found negligent even if they weren’t technically breaking the law.
Vehicle Problems: Brakes, Tires, Etc.
The FMCSA’s study noted that “brake problems” were the most oft-reported factor in fatal truck collisions during the study period. Twenty-nine percent of all recorded incidents involved brake problems.
Brake problems can indicate negligence on the part of the truck owner or the maintenance company in charge of inspecting and repairing the vehicle. In fact, properly inspecting and maintaining brakes is a duty required by federal law. Failing to maintain brakes can count as a violation of one or more parties’ expected duty of care.
Brake problems can also relate to defective brakes. In Florida, strict liability defective product laws mean that product manufacturers can be held responsible for the injuries their products cause.
Another common issue large trucks face is tire problems. Since large trucks carry so much weight, they require many tires to distribute this weight evenly and cushion the impact of the vehicle on the road. Many tires can become punctured or damaged because of these forces, shredding them and leading to the ubiquitous black rubber “road gators” you may see across South Florida’s highways.
Once again, tire problems can be related to improper maintenance, owner neglect, a defective product, or all of the above.
Unfamiliar with Roadway
Driving all across the country means that truckers are often in unfamiliar territory. Unfamiliarity with the roadways you are traveling can lead to surprises or trouble safely maneuvering.
For instance, to make room for Palm Beach international airport runways, Belvedere Road curves unexpectedly heading westbound just before the N. Military Trail intersection. This curve can catch you off guard, especially when traveling in heavy traffic.
Truck drivers are expected to exercise caution in all situations, especially ones with unknown risks. A driver unfamiliar with a roadway can still be at fault for an accident if it is determined they did not exercise due caution.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Over-the-counter drug use is extremely common in the trucking industry. Truck drivers face pressure from carriers to meet deadlines, and they may have payment incentives to reach a certain destination in an unreasonably short time frame.
To combat fatigue, they may turn to stimulants – both over-the-counter and illegal drugs. Caffeine and ephedrine are commonly abused to keep drowsiness at bay, for example.
Truck drivers may also abuse illegal stimulants to get through long routes. Cocaine and amphetamines are often found in the systems of drivers who cause major accidents.
Illegal drugs and/or alcohol can be used to alleviate another common problem felt by those driving for long hours: boredom. Drug and alcohol abuse is incredibly common in the trucking industry, which is why carriers are required by federal regulations to screen their drivers.
The FMCSA study found that OTC drugs were a factor in 17% of fatal truck accidents, while illegal drugs and alcohol were a factor in 2% and 1% of recorded cases, respectively.
Following Too Closely
Following a vehicle too closely on West Palm Beach’s traffic-heavy roads can easily lead to a situation where the vehicle in the rear suddenly has to slam on the brakes. The size and weight of semi trucks mean they require much more room to stop than the average vehicle. It can take the length of two football fields for a loaded tractor-trailer to come to a complete stop from 65 mph!
The pressure to complete routes and earn incentives can cause a truck driver to make rash decisions, including speeding and working way more hours than is possibly safe. Hours of service regulations are intended to prevent situations where a sleepy driver is on the road. Studies from the NHTSA and others establish that drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving.
However, drivers and carriers routinely violate these rules. They may fabricate required time logs or ignore the logs altogether. When a truck driver is involved in an accident, West Palm Beach truck accident lawyers may find that the driver in question was drowsy and that the carrier failed to exercise the required oversight.
Truck drivers can fall victim to distractions both inside and outside of their cab.
Internal distractions include vehicle controls, the radio, food, or other personal effects. External distractions can include other vehicles, roadside advertisements, wildlife, local sights, and even other accidents.
Other Drivers Involved
Often, a truck driver will not be wholly to blame for an accident in West Palm Beach. Another driver may make a mistake, triggering a chain reaction and a pile-up.
Florida’s pure comparative fault laws allow for truck accident victims to recover compensation from all at-fault parties in proportion to their contribution of fault. Therefore, another vehicle may be found to have the majority of liability for a truck accident while the driver or carrier is responsible for their own, smaller share.
Other Common West Palm Beach Truck Accident Factors
- Driver illness
- Unexpected cargo shifts
- Inadequate surveillance (not paying attention)
- Roadway problems and environmental hazards
- Dangerous maneuvers
- Merging or turning into the path of another vehicle
Hire a West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer
Working with an experienced West Palm Beach attorney team can help you determine the true cause of your truck accident. You can then determine the fault of each party involved and seek an appropriate claim for all of your injury costs and other losses.
Steinger, Greene & Feiner is ready to work with you after you have been hurt in a truck accident in West Palm Beach. Speak to one of our experienced personal injury lawyers during a free, no-obligation case review when you call (561) 566-5021 or contact us online now.