Why you need a lawyer who specializes in truck accidents. In 2019, an estimated 40,500 motor vehicle accidents in Florida involved light to heavy trucks, out of the 401,867 crashes reported that year. The number might seem small compared to a normal auto accident, but truck crashes tend to be more damaging due to their sheer size and power. As such, litigation of property damage or personal injury lawsuits tend to be more complex.

Contrary to popular belief, the legal process behind a trucking accident differs greatly from normal automobile accidents. Hence, when searching for a lawyer to protect your rights as a victim, you need someone who has experience when it comes to dealing with commercial vehicle accidents. Injuries and property damage are usually greater in a truck accident, so potential compensation is just as high. With high stakes involved, you simply cannot entrust your case to someone new to the field.

Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

the large truck rolled over at in intersection in florida

Commercial trucks play an important role in our economy - they deliver goods in and out of the state, which is why there is an abundance of trucks in our roadways. However, trucks can quickly become the cause of accidents because of human error and negligence. Here are some of the most common causes of truck accidents:

  • Distracted Driver. Driving long distances can be boring, and some of the ways by which drivers alleviate this boredom can become distracting and cause a crash. Chatting with the truck's passengers, eating,  and using their mobile phones are the usual suspects.
  • Fatigued Driver. Long stretches of driving can render one sleepy, which is why most trucking companies have 2 drivers that swap places. Some companies only hire 1 driver to save costs or make that driver work more than the mandated hours.
  • Intoxication and Drug Use. Some drivers have been known to use alcohol or drugs to keep them awake during long drives.
  • Over speeding. Going over the speed limit is already dangerous for any car. For trucks carrying heavy loads, overspeeding means the driver can easily lose control of the vehicle.
  • Faulty parts. Before heading out, commercial trucks must be inspected to ensure that they are road-worthy. If there's evidence that the company cuts corners when it comes to maintenance and parts replacement, they can be considered at fault for any accidents they cause.
  • Overloading. Loads have a weight limit. A heavy trailer is difficult to control, which is why trucks must be careful when driving. If the trailer is overloaded, there's an increased risk of losing control while on the road.

However, it's not always the truck's fault. There are times when other motor vehicles make questionable choices around huge, heavy trucks, resulting in accidents that will put them in danger. If you are dealing with several parties in your claim, chances are they will try to find fault in your driving to devalue or deny your claims.

  • Tailing a truck too closely. There must be at least 50 feet of empty space between vehicles. If you are tailing a truck too closely and they step on the brakes, you might crash into them if you're not careful.
  • Overtaking recklessly. Some motorists become impatient, especially since trucks usually drive carefully because of their heavy load. Remember that trucks have blind spots, so they might not even see that you're trying to overtake them.
  • Intoxication and drug use. There are cases wherein the driver of the other vehicle is the one under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Complications of Proving Fault in Truck Accidents

In a typical car accident, proving fault is easier because you only have two parties involved. Even in multiple vehicle collisions, you can find the at-fault party after a thorough investigation. With commercial truck accidents, it's a bit more complicated.

The first person we look at is driver error. Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. Drivers usually drive long hours, oftentimes through the night, so finding out it was a fatigued truck driver behind the wheel is a common sight. When a driver is tired and sleepy, they are more likely to commit a mistake. An experienced truck accident attorney will look through company driving logs to check how long a driver has been on the road. They will also examine the truck's black box following the accident to look for driver errors such as overspeeding. They will also request a police report to get a detailed and unbiased account of the accident.

In some cases, the driver's employer can be liable as well. We've had cases where employers would force their truck drivers to drive over the mandated driving hours in Florida, In some of these cases, employers would even coerce the truck driver to doctor the driving logs so they could take on more loads. According to Florida Federal Trucking Regulations, drivers of commercial trucks can only drive a maximum of 12 hours, and only after a 10 hour rest period. 

The truck owner is another potentially liable party. Trucks require regular maintenance, especially since they're on the road for long periods. Before going long distances, trucks are usually checked to see if they're road safe. In determining the party at fault, the truck will undergo an extensive appraisal to see if there are broken or rusty parts that would have caused the accident. The next steps will depend on whether the truck owner is an independent contractor, or if the truck is owned by a trucking company.

In a lot of commercial truck cases, the owner of the front part of the truck, or the tractor, is different from the owner of the trailer, or the huge container that makes up the body of the truck. The tractor usually belongs to the trucking company, while the tractor is owned by the company that hired the trucking company to deliver the load. If there are broken parts in the tractor that caused the accident, the trucking company is at fault. However, if the accident happened because the trailer was overloaded, impairing the trucker's ability to maneuver, then the company that owns the trailer can be held liable for the accident.

As you can see, finding the responsible party is complicated when it comes to truck crash investigations. There are several parties involved and usually, each party is liable to a certain extent. If you are a truck accident victim and you want to file a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawsuit

Negotiating Personal Injury Compensation

the broken down red truck sits on the side of the road in florida

Hiring a truck accident lawyer will also help you when it comes to negotiating your personal injury compensation. There are several parties involved in a typical trucking accident, with each party having its own insurance company. The process of contacting each insurance provider and filing a claim against them is long and complex, and one you shouldn't be doing alone.

Even if you have Personal Injury Protection insurance, if you experience devastating injury and property damage, your own insurance coverage might not be enough to cover your medical expense and repair costs. Also, if it's clear that they are the negligent party, it is well within your rights as the victim to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the accident.

Dealing with a third-party insurance company is always stressful since they will always look for ways to make the situation favorable for their client and disadvantageous to you. It's not uncommon for providers to find ways to devalue or deny your claim. A personal injury attorney with experience in truck accidents will go over their compensation decision and tell you if it's not adequate.

Your lawyer will negotiate with the other parties involved on your behalf to get you just and fair compensation. The result of your legal team's investigation will unearth evidence that can help nudge the negotiations in your favor. You can use the evidence you gathered to convince them to give you just compensation.

If the other parties don't budge, there's always the option to take them to court. However, coming to a reasonable settlement is more advantageous to you, especially if you sustained a lot of injuries from the accident. If the lawsuit goes to court, the proceedings can take a long time. With enough evidence, the other parties will be obligated to pay you in damages following the judge's decision.

However, faced with medical bills and repair costs, settling outside of court can give you the monetary compensation you need quicker. All you need on your side is clear evidence of fault or negligence, and a good attorney who is persistent at giving you the compensation you deserve.

Serious Nature of Truck Accidents

A lot of car accidents go unreported because a lot of these incidents only result in minor scratches and dents for one or both parties. Usually, the parties let their insurance companies take care of everything and don't get the police involved.

When it comes to commercial trucks, police intervention is usually necessary, even if there is minimal damage and injury. While a semi-truck accident won't disrupt traffic in major roadways, an accident involving heavy trucks will block roads and cause a commotion.

Because trucks are large and powerful, the other vehicle usually sustains a lot of damage. There have been cases where the other car is totaled or gets crushed underneath the truck's undercarriage. Aside from police, paramedics are usually on the accident scene to provide first aid and to rush any seriously injured parties to the hospital.

If you are the victim of a truck accident, remember to take down the names of the responders to the scene if you're conscious. Police and accident reports are vital when it comes to processing your personal injury claim. Call a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, preferably one with truck accident experience. If your loved one is unconscious, call a lawyer for them to help them prepare for a personal injury claim.

Every step of your treatment process should be properly documented, from medication receipts to medical records of lab tests and operations done. This will come in handy in determining how much compensation benefit you can avail of. Remember to also have your car assessed for a total cost of repairs as you can also claim compensation for property damage.

Possible Compensation Benefits

As a truck accident victim, you are entitled to receive compensation to cover costs related to your medical care. Here are just some of the benefits you can receive from your claim:

  • Medical expenses. This includes everything from medication to lab work done. Some insurance companies even cover the ambulance ride to the hospital.
  • Loss of earning capacity. You cannot work while you are incapacitated, meaning you lose the income you should be earning on those days. 
  • Loss of future income. If the accident results in paralysis or disability, it will jeopardize your ability to work in the future.
  • Death benefits. If the victim of the accident perishes, their family can avail of death benefits. If gross negligence or fault is proven, the family can also choose to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

Aside from compensation for injuries sustained, the negligent party is also liable to pay for damages to your vehicle. If the truck also destroys houses and buildings, the owner of those properties can also sue for damages.

You may also receive non-economic compensation, which is compensation for things that cannot be calculated. A truck accident can cause a lot of stress, fear, and anxiety to an accident victim and their loved ones. The rehabilitation and healing process can also lead to emotional distress and mental anguish, especially if the accident resulted in permanent disability.

Filing for pain and suffering is complicated because it is not easily quantifiable. You can use your medical records to prove the severity of your injury. Expert testimony from therapists and psychiatrists can also strengthen your case.

Personal Injury Lawyers With Truck Accident Experience

Because a truck accident claim can involve several parties, you need to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer with a proven track record of success. With a competent lawyer by your side, you can win your truck accident injury claim easily and get the compensation you need so you can focus on recuperating without worrying about your financial state.

broken down orange truck sits on the side of the road in ft ladurdale

Here at VG Law, we have expert personal injury lawyers with proven success in handling trucking accidents. You don't have to go through the pain and suffering that a truck accident causes - call us today and have someone in your corner who is looking out for your best interests.

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