Across the United States, there are millions of large commercial trucks that travel the roadways. In 2015 alone, large trucks traveled an estimated 279.8 billion miles. As with any vehicle on the road, truck accidents can occur at any time for a host of reasons.
Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers can cause significant damage to property and other motorists in a trucking accident. Because of the extent of the damage and injuries involved in large truck accidents, filing legal claims can be complicated and burdensome for those who have suffered.
If you or your loved one were involved in a semi-truck accident in another vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle, then you can hire a truck accident attorney to help you collect damages for any serious injuries you suffered as a result of the crash.
Types Of Truck Accidents In Florida
Every car driver traveling Florida’s expressways has passed or responded to massive big rigs on the road. Crashes tend to involve two or more vehicles, and how the trucking accident occurs can affect passenger and driver injuries, as well as the extent of damages overall.
Due to a commercial truck’s size and girth, several different types of truck accidents can occur in Florida and have the potential to be catastrophic.
Override Truck Accident
An override accident occurs when a semi-truck rear-ends a smaller vehicle. Due to the sheer size of commercial trucks, the semi-truck may actually drive over the back of the car. This type of commercial vehicle accident can have serious consequences for anyone in the vehicle.
Underride Truck Accident
An underride accident is the opposite of an override accident. In this case, the driver of the smaller vehicle rear-ends the back of a tractor-trailer. The semi-truck may have stopped abruptly or improperly changed lanes. Although many trucks have guards on the back of the trailer, the vehicle that hit the back of the truck may become stuck or wedged underneath.
Rollover Truck Accident
With tall trailers, big rigs can tip when drivers take turns at high speeds. High-winds and other driver errors can also cause the truck to fall on its side. This type of tractor-trailer accident can cause major blockades on roadways, cause chain-reaction crashes, and do severe damage to other passenger vehicles.
Jackknife Truck Accident
On Florida expressways, a jackknife accident can be fatal. This accident occurs when the tractor-trailer attachment comes loose or fails, causing the tractor-trailer to swing out perpendicular to the tractor, or similar to a jackknife. Onced jackknifed, the semi-truck can block the expressway or crash into other drivers.
Runaway Truck Accident
If a trucker loses the ability to stop or slow down the vehicle, the weight of the truck can cause it to reach high speeds. The truck could hit anything in its path, from other vehicles to pedestrians and property. This is especially dangerous if the truck is traveling downhill.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Like any auto accident, injuries from trucking accidents can be minor or severe. However, large truck accidents are more likely to cause severe or debilitating injuries. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the number of injuries caused by large truck accidents are increasing.
Examples of injuries from a truck accident include:
- broken bones
- spinal cord injuries
- traumatic brain injuries
- severed limbs
- burns or lacerations
- other fatal injuries
Common Causes Of Truck Accidents In Florida
The FMCSA suggests the major elements that contribute to a large truck accident include drinking alcohol, speeding, and driver fatigue. However, crash investigators are hesitant to suggest one element caused the crash and frequently cite multiple factors.
Common causes of truck accidents in Florida include:
- distracted driving
- improper loading of cargo
- aggressive driving behaviors
- brake problems
- prescription drug use
- traveling on an unfamiliar roadway
- congestion or traffic flow problems
- bad weather conditions
- driver error
The FMCSA states that trucking accidents can occur because of a critical reason associated with the driver. This can include falling asleep, suffering a heart attack or physical injury, making a poor decision, overreacting to something, or misjudging the speed of other vehicles.
What To Do After A Truck Accident In Florida
If you were involved in a truck accident, call for help immediately. Once you connect with a dispatcher, notify them of any injuries at the accident scene. Tell them if someone is trapped, hurt, or was thrown from their vehicle, as well as if there is any hazardous waste at the scene, like leaking fuel or a downed power line.
After calling 9-1-1 at the scene, there are measures you can take to both ensure your safety and improve your case for filing a truck accident claim.
Do Not Refuse Medical Care
Communicate all of your injuries with the paramedics and first responders at the scene. If they suggest you should be checked out at a hospital, do not refuse. If you refuse or delay medical treatment after an accident, insurance companies could easily deny your injury case by suggesting your injuries weren’t caused by the accident.
Gather Information From The Truck Driver
Like any vehicle accident, it’s crucial to exchange information with the other driver. Truck drivers must meet certain driver qualifications and regulations in Florida, so ask for this information as well, or make sure it’s noted on their commercial driver’s license.
Because a commercial truck was involved, try to collect the following information about the trucking operation:
- the cab’s license number
- the contact information of the cab owner (if different from the driver)
- the driver’s insurance information
- the name of the trucking company who hired or owns the truck
- information regarding the cargo in the truck, if applicable
Collect Evidence From The Scene
Like all personal injury claims, collecting evidence at the scene of the accident is crucial. Of course, if you were severely injured, this may not be possible.
If you can collect evidence, it helps to gather the following:
- photographs of the accident, including the impact points of the truck and your vehicle
- detailed notes or observations about the accident (note any admission of guilt by the truck driver)
- talk to witnesses at the scene and gather statements if possible
- note the location of any traffic cameras at the scene
- on the next day, have a family member or trusted friend examine the scene, collect further evidence, and take pictures of anything that may have been moved or tampered with
Liability In Florida Truck Accident Lawsuits
Unlike straightforward at-fault car accident lawsuits, liability in a truck driver accident can be more complicated. This is not only because injuries are more likely to be severe, but also because there may be multiple parties involved who share the blame for your injuries.
To bring a lawsuit forward in Florida, it’s important to identify every party that may have played a role in the crash. Assigning liability to the appropriate party’s insurance company can determine the amount of damages, or monetary compensation, you could receive in a lawsuit.
Who Are The Defendants In Florida Truck Accident Claims?
In some truck accident cases, the trucker is liable for the accident and should be named as the defendant. However, liability in a commercial truck accident could possibly extend beyond the driver.
Besides the driver, additional parties who could be held liable in a Florida truck accident include:
- the driver’s employer or client
the truck owner
the truck manufacturer (especially if the crash was the result of a defective part)
third-party contractors or businesses responsible for the cargo
Negligence In Florida Truck Accidents
Any driver on Florida’s roadways, including truck drivers, have a duty of care to protect the safety of others on the road. This means they must obey traffic laws, keep a proper lookout, and do whatever is in their reasonable power to avoid an accident.
While this is true for all drivers, truck drivers are held to a higher standard of liability put forth by the FMCSA and the Florida Highway Patrol Office of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement. This is because truck accidents have a high risk of damage, destruction, and death.
Truck driver negligence occurs when truck drivers violate these standards, fail to protect other drivers on the road, and this failure causes an accident. For these cases, you would file a claim against the at-fault truck driver’s insurance company.
How A Lawyer Can Help Prove Your Florida Truck Injury Claim
If you hire a truck accident attorney to help you collect damages for your claim, they will likely try to prove negligence. This means you and your attorney will need to find crucial information or evidence that proves negligence on the part of the truck driver or the trucking company’s enforcement of compliance.
A truck accident lawyer may try to uncover the following information to help prove negligence:
- if the truck driver’s CDL license was active or suspended
- if the truck driver had a criminal record
- if the truck driver has outstanding debts, judgements, or other financial problems
- if the truck driver has been in previous accidents
- if the truck driver was driving outside legal limits of hours of service
- if the truck’s cargo exceeded the legal limit
- if the truck driver took prescription or over-the-counter medications
- if the truck driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- if the truck driver had previous traffic tickets
- if the truck driver was in any other accidents
While some of this information may be available in an official police report, the truck driver or company may not willingly give up this information, such as information from an electronic logging device (ELD), or data from a trucks black box.
If you file an injury claim against the truck driver or another liable party, they’ll likely be represented by a lawyer. It’s crucial to hire a truck accident lawyer who can issue a subpoena to make the defendants hand over any evidence that could help your case.
Florida Truck Accident Damages
Vehicle accident-related damages are often paid out by insurance companies. Insurance companies may routinely submit low offers to avoid paying out significant fees to cover your injuries. However, because semi-truck accidents are likely to cause serious injuries, there could be millions of dollars at stake.
You’ll need a skilled and qualified personal injury lawyer to get insurance companies to pay out a fair value of your trucking accident case.
If you were involved in a truck accident that caused severe injuries, a Florida truck accident attorney could get the insurance company to compensate you for:
- medical bills or expenses
- future medical costs
- permanent disability or disfigurement
- lost wages and future lost income from an incapacity to work
- wrongful death
List Of Florida Truck Accident Lawyers Near You
If you or a loved one are a truck accident victim and you’re ready to file a claim, the first thing to do may be to get a free case evaluation from an experienced Florida personal injury attorney. Florin|Roebig law firm offers free consultations for residents throughout the state of Florida, as well as in other states.
At Florin|Roebig, we offer you access to a team of capable, experienced personal injury attorneys including:
- Wil H. Florin, B.C.S.
- Tommy D. Roebig, B.C.S.
- Chase P. Florin, B.C.S.
- Jordan A. Kolinski
- Parker Y. Florin, LL.M.
- Taylor D. Roebig
- Nollys R. Solarte, O.C.
- Lawrence J. Najem, O.C.
- Andrew M. Leone, O.C.
With over 30 years of experience, our law firm has successfully won over $1 billion in settlements from personal injury cases by providing our clients with high-quality legal representation.
A few areas in Florida served by our experienced personal injury lawyers include:
- West Palm Beach
- Fort Lauderdale
Contact Florin|Roebig To File A Florida Truck Accident Claim Today
At Florin|Roebig, our team of top-rated personal injury lawyers can help guide you through the difficult process of filing a legal claim after a truck accident. Our multi-state law firm is headquartered in Florida, and our team is knowledgeable and experienced with Florida courts and litigation.
It can be difficult to know if you should move forward with a lawsuit after an accident, so our firm offers a free case evaluation to help you decide if pursuing legal action is in your best interest.
To learn more about truck accident lawsuits in Florida, or to start your free case evaluation for you or your loved one, contact the offices of Florin|Roebig today.