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Family of Florida truck accident victim awarded $3 million

A U.S. District Court has awarded the family of a Lake County man $3 million after he was killed in a 2009 truck accident involving two commercial haulers in Florida. Driver fatigue was suspected to be a partial cause of the accident. Testimony against the driver of one of the trucks accused her of working for 19 hours straight prior to the accident.

The Florida Motor Carrier Safety Act stipulates that commercial truck drivers may not remain on duty for more than 14 hours. Known as the "Hour of Service" rule, the limit is aimed at ensuring safe operations by eliminating tired driving.

The 33-year-old accident victim hit the back of the other driver's tractor-trailer after it entered the interstate from the emergency lane without out yielding first. The victim was driving a large tandem tractor-trailer at the time of accident, according to reports. The victim was wearing a seat belt, but died from injuries suffered in the crash. The truck he was driving sustained about $100,000 worth of damage, reports indicate.

The driver of the other hauler claims that she stopped to check a light in her vehicle before merging back onto the highway via the emergency lane. She alleges that she saw lights when merging, but thought they were farther away than they were. The driver was wearing a seat belt and was not injured, nor was her passenger, who was not wearing a seat belt.

This accident illustrates the extreme tragedy that can arise from unsafe driving, particularly when large commercial trucks are involved. Fortunately, this case is also evidence that the person who caused the crash can be held accountable for his or her unsafe actions.

Source: Jacksonville.com, "Jury awards family $3 million in tired trucker accident in Flagler," Dan Scanlan, Aug. 16, 2011

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