Fireball Wreck on Interstate 75 in New Tampa
A truck driver who failed to stop for backed-up traffic triggered a fiery eight-vehicle wreck which killed two people and injured several others.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a semi-truck driver did not slow down for stacked-up traffic near the New Tampa Boulevard exit. That driver tried to avoid a crash by changing lanes, but wound up plowing into several other vehicles, including another tractor-trailer. The ensuing fireball killed two people and injured eight others.
Negligence in Truck Wreck Claims
Traffic violations, such as speeding, failure to yield the right-of-way, and making an illegal turn, account for about half of the truck wrecks in Hillsborough County. In Florida, these violations create a presumption of negligence. Additional evidence includes things like travelling well above the speed limit or blatant disregard for traffic laws, such as zipping in and out of traffic.
However, even if there was a clear traffic violation, emergency law enforcement responders do not always issue citations. That’s especially true in catastrophic wrecks like the one described above. Responders understandably have other priorities, such as securing the scene and tending to injured victims.
So, most truck wreck claims involve the theory of ordinary negligence. Essentially, negligence is a lack of care.
Negligence is usually easier to establish before a jury when the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is a truck driver, Uber driver, or other commercial operator. Generally, these individuals have a higher duty of care than noncommercial operators.
Regardless of the duty, the victim/plaintiff must present evidence that establishes a lack of care. Some evidence in truck and tractor/trailer wreck claims includes:
- Event Data Recorder: An EDR is a lot like a commercial jet’s black box flight recorder. The EDR records things like vehicle speed, brake application, and steering angle. All these things could be critical in a negligence claim.
- SMS Report: The Safety Measurement System database is essentially a multi state driving record for truck drivers. The SMS report includes things like crash history, prior traffic violations, vehicle maintenance history, and HOS (hours of service) compliance.
- Electronic Logging Device: These gadgets are connected to the truck’s drivetrain. So, they provide bulletproof evidence of hours driven and hours rested. The trucking industry fought the ELD mandate all the way to the Supreme Court. They know how valuable this information is in the hands of a Tampa personal injury attorney.
A little evidence of negligence goes a long way in civil court. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Third Party Liability
Truck wrecks quite frequently cause catastrophic injuries. As a result, the tortfeasor may not have enough insurance coverage to make good on all losses. Vicarious liability gives victims an additional source of recovery. Respondeat superior, which is one of the most common vicarious liability theories, holds employers liable for damages if:
- Employee: Employers are typically liable for the negligent acts of their employees. In this context, an “employee” could be a regular worker, independent contractor, owner-operator, or even an unpaid church volunteer.
- Scope of Employment: Similarly, anything which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. Participating in a company softball game is within the scope of employment. The free advertising benefits the employer.
Other vicarious liability theories include dram shop alcohol provider liability and negligent entrustment owner liability.
Connect with Assertive Lawyers
Truck wrecks often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Hillsborough County and nearby jurisdictions.