Recover Compensation for Your Losses in a Truck Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida truck accident, an attorney may be able to help you recover compensation for your losses. If the case isn’t resolved outside the courtroom, consider seeking legal counsel to initiate a lawsuit against the trucking firm. The claims process to collect damages from the party responsible for causing your accident can be complicated, but Ortiz Law Firm can help you navigate the process.
Typically, these claims are filed against the trucking company that owns the vehicle and not the driver himself. The trucking company will likely have insurance to cover motor vehicle accidents caused by the company’s drivers. Given the fact that you will be dealing with larger-scale defendants and their insurance companies (who are themselves well-experienced in handling injury claims), you should seriously consider retaining the assistance of an attorney who has experience handling such claims against large corporate entities. At the Ortiz Law Firm, Mr. Ortiz has handled personal injury claims against large trucking companies and insurance carriers.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a Florida truck accident, you may have a legal claim for damages. To learn how our Pensacola truck accident attorney may be able to help you recover compensation for your losses, please fill out our no cost case review form today.
Qualified For Compensation?
Many accidents of the road involve 18-wheelers, big rigs, delivery trucks and other large trucks, which automatically have the handicap of being much larger than other vehicles. To be qualified for compensation from a truck accident, you and your lawyer must be able to prove that the other party’s negligence caused it. Truck drivers can cause serious accidents by:
- Driving while drowsy.
- Not properly inspecting their vehicle (including regularly checking brakes, engine fluids, lights and mirrors).
- Tailgating; and
- Failing to pay attention to blind spots and other hazardous areas.
Even if you partially responsible for the accident, you can still recover damages if it is determined that the other party carries more of the responsibility.
How Does A Pensacola Truck Accident Attorney Do To Help?
If you’ve been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, there could be multiple parties responsible for your loss, such as the truck driver or the trucking company. However, these parties often deny their responsibility for an accident. A lawyer can help you establish who is at fault, gather proof to back up your claim, and work towards getting you the compensation you deserve from all those liable.
In incidents involving commercial trucks, the trucking company and its insurer typically start an immediate investigation of the accident scene. They have specific guidelines to follow in handling truck accident claims, which are often designed to limit payouts to victims of the crash. The trucking company or insurance company might gather witness statements, take thorough pictures of the accident site, and assess the extent of damage on the vehicles involved in the crash. Additionally, authorities from Florida may conduct an independent investigation of the accident, which could assist your claim.
Here are some of the actions we will take to strengthen your claim:
- Review any available video footage of the accident.
- Interview witnesses or employ an investigator to carry out these interviews.
- Analyze compulsory police or Florida Highway Patrol accident reports.
- Study medical records related to the accident.
- Speak with healthcare providers and possibly take formal statements from the doctors who treated the injuries.
- Collaborate with experts to recreate the accident scene and the accident itself for a deeper understanding.
There are a number of parties who may be liable or held responsible for injuries sustained in a truck accident, including the following:
- The truck driver;
- The truck driver’s employer;
- The owner of the truck;
- The company leasing the truck;
- The owner of the leasing company;
- The owner of the trailer, if attached;
- The company leasing the trailer; and
- The manufacturer of the truck, trailer, or components.
Mr. Ortiz can assist you in pursuing your complex truck accident case. He understands how to clarify which party may(or may not) be liable for your injuries or the death of your loved one. To help determine and establish liability/fault, Mr. Ortiz may investigate:
- Who had primary control and custody of the truck at the time of the accident;
- Driving logs and records, including weigh-ins;
- The level of control the company maintained over its drivers;
- The driving history of the truck driver;
- The driving history of the vehicle and trailer;
- Maintenance records for the vehicle and trailer;
- Any potential violations of federal and/or Florida state laws regarding driving regulations;
- Whether there are any past violations of Florida state and/or federal trucking laws;
- Whether the driver has any past criminal convictions; and
- Whether there are any potential product or manufacturing defects.
Given the size and weight of the vehicles involved in a truck accident, the cost of treating your injuries will likely exceed the amount of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. To collect payment for losses not covered by your PIP coverage, and any other damages you may be eligible to receive, your attorney will need to negotiate with the insurance company. If such out-of-court negotiations are unsuccessful, your attorney may need to file a lawsuit for additional damages.
If you have lost a loved one in a truck accident, you may have the right to pursue a wrongful death suit. Hiring a qualified attorney can help ensure you recover the compensation to which you are entitled.
Types of Injuries in a Truck Accident
Injuries suffered in truck accidents can be severe, including (but not limited to):
- head trauma
- brain damage, also called Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI
- spinal cord damage
- broken bones
- cuts and lacerations
- paralysis or
- even death
After all PIP benefits have been exhausted, victims with injuries exceeding the “tort injury threshold” may pursue additional “non-economic” compensation for their “pain and suffering”.
Elements of Truck Accident Negligence:
Lawsuits filed to recover compensation for injuries suffered in a truck accident will often be based the truck driver’s negligence. Some common elements of negligence include:
- Lack of sufficient truck driving experience;
- Overloaded trucks;
- Operating over-sized trucks on narrow roads ill-suited for such trucks;
- Inability to see other vehicles due to the truck’s large blind spot;
- Failure to obey traffic laws;
- Not stopping at weigh stations, as required by law; and
- Fatigue or driving for too long without taking a break.
To succeed in a negligence lawsuit, the injured party has to prove the following elements:
- the truck driver had a duty of care to other vehicles on the road;
- the driver breached this duty through some negligent action or failure to act (an omission);
- an injury was suffered; and
- the breach of duty caused the injury.
In some instances, multiple parties may be responsible for the injuries. For example, the owner and manager of the trucking company, the owner of the truck, the employer of the driver, and their respective insurance companies may be liable after a crash.
Truck Defect Liability
If a truck accident is caused by a flaw in the truck or one of its parts, the injured person may have a valid claim against the manufacturer. To make a successful claim, they will need to demonstrate that:
- The truck or its defective part posed an unreasonable risk;
- The truck was being used as intended by the manufacturer; and
- The truck’s condition had not altered since it was first sold.
These types of claims can also be pursued under a principle called “strict liability,” which doesn’t require proof of the manufacturer’s negligence. Instead, the injured party needs to show that the defect was present from the time of manufacture. This would require detailed investigations, tests, and expert testimony.
Wrongful Death Claims
Sadly, truck accidents often result in fatalities. In such instances, the deceased person’s family may be able to file a claim on behalf of their loved one to seek compensation for their losses. To make a successful claim, the family needs to establish the same legal facts that their loved one would have had to if they had survived the crash. A skilled wrongful death attorney can help families secure both economic and non-economic damages for their loss, and in some instances, punitive damages too.
Compensation from a truck accident usually falls into two categories: economic losses and non-economic losses. In some instances, punitive damages may also be claimed.
Economic losses refer to financial costs incurred by the victim or their family, which can include:
- Current Medical Expenses: These cover costs related to emergency care, hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, assistive devices, and consultations with medical professionals.
- Future Medical Expenses: If the injuries are so severe that ongoing medical care is required, compensation can cover these anticipated costs.
- Lost Wages: If the victim is unable to return to work temporarily or permanently due to their injuries, they may be compensated for their lost earnings during the time from the injury to the resolution of the claim.
- Loss of Earning Capacity: If the victim can show that their ability to earn a living has been affected negatively, additional compensation can be claimed for the loss of future earnings.
Non-economic losses pertain to non-monetary and subjective damages, which can include:
- Pain and Suffering: This covers the physical discomfort endured due to injuries from the accident, taking into account the nature of the injuries, the severity of pain, and the projected duration of suffering.
- Emotional Distress: Victims may be awarded compensation for emotional trauma, including fear, embarrassment, anxiety, grief, and other types of emotional distress resulting from the accident.
- Loss of Consortium: If a spouse is injured, the uninjured partner may claim damages for the loss of marital benefits, including companionship, sexual relations, and emotional support.
Punitive damages, which are designed to punish and deter egregious behavior, may also be awarded if the defendant’s actions were willfully harmful or intentionally negligent.
Federal Regulations and Truck Driving
Truck drivers have very specific rules to follow as set down in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Trucking companies are required to check the criminal backgrounds of any driver they hire and monitor all employees through driving logs. This is done to ensure that drivers are following the rule of maximum hours of driving they may do per day. In this way, the likelihood of an accident due to inattentiveness can hopefully be avoided. Once a year, a truck driver’s records are inspected and if repeat violations of regulations are visible, steps are taken to remove them from the road.
Truck Accident Statistics
A large truck is legally defined as a vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds. A 2008 federal report stated that 11% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the country involved large trucks. Of those who were killed in these accidents, 16% were occupants of the large trucks, while 74% were not. It is fairly common for drivers of large trucks to have convictions for speeding, an action that is one of the main causes of traffic accidents, causing 31 percent of all road fatalities. 11, 674 people died in 2008 accidents involving speeding, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In 2008, 677 Americans were killed in accidents involving large trucks, 263 of which were in Florida.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
The most common causes of truck accidents are:
- sleepy or fatigued drivers,
- drivers operating their vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
- inexperienced drivers,
- poorly maintained trucks (including dangerously under-maintained brakes, brake lights, head lights, turn signals, reflectors and other safety systems),
- overloaded trucks,
- incorrectly loaded trucks,
- various distractions,
- reckless driving,
- running off the road and
- failure to yield the right of way.
Here are some additional facts about large truck accidents:
- Someone in the United States is injured or killed every 16 minutes by an accident involving a large truck.
- Over 400,000 accidents involving large trucks occur in the country every year.
- Around 140,000 people are injured every year by these accidents.
- Around 3,700 people are killed each year in these accidents.
- About 700 occupants of large trucks are killed in crashes every year.
- Big-rig trucks, semi trucks and tractor-trailers weigh up to 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle.
- Fatigue is the most common reason for a big-rig truck accident.
- A large truck traveling at 55 mph can require the entire length of a football field to stop.
- Most fatal truck accidents, approximately 66%, happen during the daytime.
- 62% of fatal truck accidents happen in rural areas.
- In 2007, drivers of large trucks with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.089 or higher (legally drunk) were involved in 1% of fatal traffic accidents, while similar drivers of smaller passenger vehicles made up 23%. Those of smaller trucks made up another 23% and those of motorcycles made up 27%.
- 24% of all big-rig truck drivers who were part of fatal crashes in 2007 had prior speeding convictions. The same year, only 19% of passenger vehicle drivers with prior speeding convictions were involved in fatal crashes.
Truck Accident Claims
During your attempts to file a claim against a trucking company, you should watch out for some of the tricks the insurance company could possibly pull. Never consent a recorded statement, since these can be twisted against you to hurt your case. A questionnaire that you can respond to in writing is sufficient. Also, we do not recommend that you accept the first settlement offer. Insurance companies will typically begin negotiations much lower than its highest offer. You should only accept an early settlement if it is equal to your damages.
Other Drivers May Be Responsible for Truck Driving Accidents
One must not assume that only the drivers of big rig trucks are the cause of damaging accidents. In some cases, the negligent drivers of smaller vehicles are the ones that cause accidents. If you are involved in an accident with a larger vehicle, the other party will not automatically be responsible for damages. If you are considered the sole cause of the accident, you do not have a case for damages.
Truck Accident Attorney
Accidents involving large trucks can be far more severe than other road accidents. These accidents can be severe, often resulting in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or paralysis, conditions that can cause long-lasting disability and expensive medical bills. If you or a loved one has experienced personal injury, including physical and mental pain and financial impairment due to medical wages and loss of work, you are entitled to monetary compensation.
If you have been in a truck accident in Florida, you will need an experienced attorney to handle your claim. Contact our office as soon as you can to schedule a free case evaluation. You only have limited time you have to file a claim with the insurer and/or file a lawsuit against the responsible parties. To learn more about how our Pensacola truck accident attorney can help with your claim, please fill out the form on this page or call our office at (888) 321-8131 .