On Monday, a logging truck owned by a Palatka company slammed into the rear of a school bus carrying children in Bradford County, near Starke, Florida. Seven children and the bus driver were taken to the hospital with injuries. One of the students’ injuries was categorized as “serious,” and the two occupants of the logging truck suffered serious injuries as well.
Witnesses say the truck did not apply its brakes prior to impact. The bus was stopped to drop off students at the time of the collision. The bus driver indicated she saw the logging truck coming at a high rate of speed and that she tried to avoid a collision by accelerating from the stop, but she was not able to avoid impact. The rear of the bus was demolished.
According the the Florida Highway Patrol, it received several calls before the crash that the semi-truck was being driven erratically for miles before the collision. In fact, Florida Highway Patrol officers were on the way to intercept the truck at the time the collision happened. A female passenger in the truck, believed to be the driver’s wife, was found to have been naked at the time of the crash.
Earlier the same day, the truck driver was pulled over by the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office. Several safety violations were found, but the violations were not serious enough to keep the truck off of the road.
The driver has a lengthy record of arrests in Putnam County, including theft, burglary and domestic violence.
Several Florida legal principles are highlighted by this incident. First, the driver of the truck was unquestionably driving while distracted. Driving while distracted can lead to punitive damages in Florida. For example, a vehicle driver who causes an accident while texting can be liable for punitive damages in addition to owing injured victims reimbursement for their losses. It seems that the driver of this truck was distracted much more so than a texting driver.
Florida law also provides that the owner of any vehicle involved in a collision is liable for injuries caused by the negligence of the driver. In this case, if a company owned the logging truck, it will be held liable for the injuries.
Furthermore, the person working for the company that made the decision to entrust the vehicle to this driver can have personal liability if the decision to do so was negligent. Given the arrest record of this driver, and the potential that he has a poor driving record as well, the person making the decision to entrust the truck to this driver will likely have personal liability for the injuries and other damages suffered in this collision.
Our Jacksonville based law firm handles a wide variety of accident claims including trucking accidents and negligent entrustment claims. If you have any questions regarding the status of Florida law, please do not hesitate to call, write or e-mail us.