Commercial tractor trailer accidents can be quite serious, given the size and weight of the vehicles involved. And, the sheer number of these vehicles on the road and number of miles they travel increases the likelihood of an accident, even before you factor in issues like commercial drivers being pushed to exceed safety limits. Injuries and damages can be quite extensive, and often the most serious losses are suffered by drivers and passengers of other vehicles.
Tractor Trailer Accidents in Florida
One of the main factors in the severity of a truck accident is the size and weight of the trucks compared to that of the vehicles around them. That’s why the damages to other motorists are often more serious, and the motorists are at a much higher risk of dying or being severely injured in these accidents. People in other vehicles and non-motorists such as pedestrians and bicyclists account for more than 75 percent of truck accident injuries and 80 percent of deaths.
Liability in Tractor Trailer Accidents in Florida
Tractor trailer accidents often raise more questions and require more expertise and research than the typical motor vehicle accident. In addition to the usual questions such as, “Who was at fault?” and “Were both parties partially responsible?”, it is important to understand the nature of the trucking operation and associated state and federal regulations. These added layers of complications may make the case difficult to sort out, and not just for the accident victim. Even attorneys who lack experience with commercial tractor trailer accidents may overlook important issues.
Causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents
Many times, whether acting on their own or at their employer’s request, commercial truck drivers violate federal regulations put in place for safe operation of commercial vehicles. Two of the most common violations that result in accidents where motorists are injured or killed are:
- Operation of the truck for more than 12 hours without rest; and
- Ignoring medical regulations
Commercial truck accidents also frequently occur when a driver is traveling too fast for conditions, since maneuvering a large truck is more difficult than controlling a smaller vehicle and a tractor trailer takes much longer to stop than a passenger car. This type of negligence on the part of the truck driver may contribute to the extent of injuries in a portion of the 15 percent of tractor trailer accidents that start before the large truck becomes involved.
Getting Help After a Tractor Trailer Accident
When you’ve been involved in an accident with a truck, the most important first step is to seek medical attention. This is not only to tend to your injuries, but also to protect your personal injury claim. While recovering from your accident, your health should be your number one priority, so contact us today to learn how we can take the burden of managing your case off your shoulders while you focus on your recovery. Some damages you may be entitled to include:
- Wages lost because of your injuries
- Medical expenses incurred
- Repair or replacement of your vehicle
You may also be entitled to damages for intangible losses, such as pain and suffering.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our truck accident lawyers to find out what kind of compensation you may be qualified to receive.
Our Lawyers Will Work for You
Our experienced law firm has all the tools needed to help you to pursue fair compensation for your tractor trailer accident. Contact us at 1-800-253-5523 or fill out the free consultation form on this page.
FAQs About Florida Tractor Trailer Accidents
The first thing that you should do after a truck accident in Florida is receive medical care. Your health is the main priority. But, having your injuries assessed and recorded by a doctor will also strengthen your truck accident claim. When you wait to seek medical care after an accident, the other party in the truck accident case may assert that your injury worsened in the time that you took to get treatment.
The next thing that you can do after a truck accident is gather evidence. Evidence will mainly consist of contact information from witnesses and photos of the scene of the crash. But, remember that medical care should be your main concern – a truck accident attorney can gather evidence for you to build a strong case.
You’ll benefit from contacting a Tampa truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash. Your trusted attorney can assess your situation and take the proper next steps towards winning your compensation.
The size and weight of tractor trailers make them a major hazard for other motorists on the road. Trucks can weigh as much as 40 tons or more, posing a significant risk for the drivers of passenger vehicles. Plus, truck drivers are generally on the road for extended periods, often for up to eight hours or more. During these long stretches, truck drivers may be more likely to experience fatigue and lapses in attention. Coupled with pressure from their carriers to meet deadlines, truck drivers may exhibit risky behaviors that can cause auto accidents.
The state of Florida is home to large, often packed highways, which increases the risk of auto accidents involving large commercial trucks. Among other factors, this gives Florida one of the highest rates of truck accidents in the nation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that Florida and only nine other U.S. states are responsible for half of the fatal truck accidents in the country.
A key difference between truck and car accident cases is the extent of the damages. More severe injuries and fatalities tend to result when a truck is involved in an auto accident.
Truck accident cases also typically involve multiple parties in addition to the drivers. For example, while an auto accident case involving two passenger cars may only involve the two drivers, when a truck is implicated, the trucking company may also be held liable. Multiple federal regulations also apply to truck accidents. Federal regulations seldom come into play for passenger car accident cases.
The additional considerations involved in a truck accident can complicate the process of filing a claim as a victim. An experienced Tampa truck accident attorney can help you navigate legal guidelines and requirements to get your claim approved.
The FMCSA is the acronym for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and was created on January 1, 2000. As a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation, its main purpose is to prevent large truck and bus crashes. To carry out this mission, the FMCSA enforces safety regulations, many of which impact truck drivers and their carriers. By limiting the maximum number of hours that truck drivers can drive without stopping, the FMCSA aims to reduce crashes caused by driver fatigue. Training guidelines, truck inspection, truck maintenance, and drug and alcohol testing for drivers are other factors included in FMCSA regulations.
Since multiple parties are implicated in most truck accident cases, you will likely be able to name more than one defendant as the victim of a truck crash. Parties that may be held liable include the:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Truck owner or truck leasing company
- Truck manufacturer
- Auto repair providers
- Government entities that carry out road maintenance
Additional defendants may be implicated in your truck accident case. An experienced auto accident attorney can help determine the liable parties for your claim.
This type of case is called a wrongful death lawsuit. You can file a wrongful death lawsuit as an immediate family member (i.e. spouse, child, or parent) of the deceased. In Florida, you must, in most circumstances, file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of death. Damages in a wrongful death case typically involve loss of financial support, medical bills, funeral costs, burial expenses, emotional pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.
Distracted driving has surged among drivers of all types of vehicles, including commercial trucks. Texting and phone use pose the greatest safety risks of all other forms of distractions for truck drivers. The FMCSA bans the use of hand-held cell phones for commercial truck drivers.
In Florida, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a truck accident case. While this is a longer period than most states allow, you should act quickly after a truck accident to ensure that you receive the highest possible compensation for your losses. Over time, evidence can become compromised and it will become more complicated to prove fault. Enlisting the help of a skilled truck accident attorney will benefit your case and make sure that you receive your compensation as soon as possible.
The damages involved in truck accident cases are often severe, making professional legal representation especially important. The complexities involved in a truck accident case will be best managed by a professional. Plus, an attorney with prior experience in truck accident claims, like a member of our team at Catania & Catania, P.A., will more successfully secure your maximum compensation. Reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation for your truck accident claim.