Truck Accidents in Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach’s economy depends on local companies’ ability to obtain shipments containing products needed for the area’s top industries, including agriculture, gas extraction, construction, and retail trade. They also rely on commercial trucks to carry shipments of products made in the region to other parts of the country or even to other parts of the world via ports.
While truck traffic is a necessary component of a thriving local economy, commercial trucks are massive vehicles capable of causing serious injuries and even the death of other roadway users.
Suppose a truck accident injured you. In that case, a Cocoa Beach truck accident lawyer from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, can evaluate your case for free, explain to you the claims process, and tell you about the services our legal team can provide to obtain the compensation you need.
Table of Contents
- Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Cocoa Beach
- Types of Injuries Associated with Cocoa Beach Truck Accidents
- Call Our Cocoa Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Today
- Frequently Asked Questions
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Cocoa Beach
According to the website BestPlaces, the top industries in Cocoa Beach include:
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting
- Mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction
- Wholesale and retail trade
- Transportation and warehousing
Each of these industries relies on commercial trucks to transport products. These trucks commonly use routes that include I-95, S.R. 520, and U.S. 1. Additionally, it is not uncommon to see truck traffic on arterial streets around the city as they deliver or pick up shipments from local businesses.
However, these streets often become filled with traffic during certain times of the year. Traffic congestion presents several hazards, particularly when it involves a commercial truck that weighs 20 to 30 times as much as the passenger cars it shares the road with. Here is a look at some truck driver behaviors that commonly lead to truck accidents in Cocoa Beach.
Cocoa Beach Truck Accident Lawyer Near Me 833-552-7274
Tire Defects and Other Maintenance Issues
The most common cause of truck-involved accidents is tire defects, accounting for around 30 percent of all truck accidents. Having a tire blowout in a vehicle often results in loss of control. This is especially true with a commercial truck that is already difficult to maneuver.
Truck owners/operators and trucking companies are federally required to commit to a regular maintenance schedule for commercial trucks to address parts such as the tires and brakes that wear faster due to the many miles the truck travels as well as the weight of the vehicle. On most roadways in Cocoa Beach and around the country, a fully-loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
In addition to having the truck serviced regularly, truck drivers must perform a pre-trip inspection on the vehicle before every trip. This inspection requires the driver to look over all parts of the truck in search of hazards that can compromise its safety.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—the agency tasked with regulating and overseeing the U.S. trucking industry—requires truck drivers to place a truck out of service if the driver deems it unsafe because of the pre-trip inspection. But many drivers and trucking companies choose to operate vehicles with safety hazards.
For a free legal consultation with a truck accidents lawyer serving Cocoa Beach, call 833-552-7274
Around 70 percent of all U.S. products reach their destinations via a commercial truck. They deliver most of these products on a deadline, and a driver will often deliver a shipment to Cocoa Beach only to immediately pick up another shipment.
While drivers holding commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) must have a clean driving record to obtain and maintain their CDL. Too many traffic tickets can result in a driver losing their privilege to operate a commercial truck.
Many of them exceed the posted speed limit or drive too fast for the traffic and weather conditions.
Speeding reduces the time a truck driver has to notice that there is a hazard in the roadway, such as another vehicle or a pedestrian while increasing the distance the truck needs after braking for brakes to pull the vehicle’s weight to a complete stop. A loaded tractor-trailer requires 20-40 percent more distance to stop at slower speeds and on dry roads. However, if the truck is speeding, that distance is even more.
Distracted driving is another common cause of truck accidents in Cocoa Beach. The city presents a lot of external distractions, such as people and vehicles on the road, construction work zones, billboards, and unique shops that can cause a driver to look away from the road, which is a visual distraction.
The distractions inside the truck’s cab include manual distractions such as eating, drinking, smoking, or adjusting vehicle or GPS controls, which cause the driver to take their hands from the wheel. Long journeys, talking with family or friends on the phone, or even daydreaming can draw the driver’s thoughts from the task of safe driving and are examples of cognitive distractions.
One driving distraction that caught traffic experts’ attention—including those from the FMCSA—is texting and other cell phone use while driving. Texting is simultaneously a manual, visual, and cognitive distraction. When traveling on I-95 at highway speeds, when it takes a driver to read or reply to a text, they will have driven an 80,000-pound truck the length of a football field without attending to the roadway.
According to the FMCSA, texting drivers are more than 23 times more likely to experience a safety-critical event, such as a crash, near-crash, or lane deviation. The FMCSA prohibits texting and driving for commercial truck drivers.
Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way
Intersections are often difficult for truck drivers and dangerous for those sharing the road with the truck. Ninety-seven percent of vehicle occupants killed in an accident involving a truck and a passenger car are the occupants of the passenger car.
Commercial trucks have significant blind spots on all four sides, and roadways are often narrow in Cocoa Beach. The truck accelerates slower than other vehicle types and requires long distances to come to a complete stop. Speed, mechanical failures, and driver fatigue can contribute to failure to yield accidents occurring in Cocoa Beach intersections.
The FMCSA has set the alcohol impairment level at 04 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, which is half the legal .08 blood alcohol content considered impaired driving for most adults over 21. While truck accidents featuring an impaired truck driver are far less common than one might think, some truck drivers indulge in alcohol or illicit drugs while driving. Other truck drivers fail to realize the potentially intoxicating effects of over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Alcohol and drugs can deprive the truck driver of important skills needed to operate their vehicle, including loss of signal detection, the ability to track a moving target, and control speed, steering, and braking—all of which are more difficult in a massive tractor-trailer. Seventeen percent of commercial truck drivers involved in accidents had used an over-the-counter drug at the time of the accident.
Truck Driver Fatigue
The FMCSA notes that around 13 percent of all truck drivers involved in an accident are tired at the time of the crash. Driver fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents.
Truck drivers can be more prone to fatigued driving because:
- Truck drivers often choose to drive at night when traffic volume is lower. The circadian rhythm is the body’s sleep/wake cycle, and it involves an internal clock that controls the daily patterns of the body. Because of this internal clock, most people are instinctively wired to experience lulls in alertness during the late night and mid-afternoon hours.
- Truck drivers can travel hundreds of miles a day, often covering boring terrain that can cause them to feel tired and even lose focus while driving. The FMCSA’s Hours of Service requirements demand that drivers take regular off-duty breaks while driving so they have adequate sleep and avoid the effects of fatigued driving. Fatigue can mimic alcohol impairment in that it creates slowed responses to emergency driving situations, difficulty stopping, controlling one’s speed, or maintaining a single lane of travel.
- FMCSA studies reveal that truck drivers are most likely to experience an accident within one hour of waking due to sleep inertia, which impairs the driver’s performance of certain tasks, including short-term memory, reaction time, and the ability to stay awake. Many drivers sleep in their sleeper berths during their off-duty time to avoid hotel costs during long hauls and get right back to work upon waking.
- Around one-third of all truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea, a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes brief interruptions in breathing when sleeping. These pauses in breath can last more than 10 seconds and occur hundreds of times during the night, leaving the driver feeling tired even when they’ve had a full night’s sleep.
Improperly Loaded Cargo
In most cases, the shipper must load the cargo into the truck. If the cargo is not properly loaded, it can result in a weight imbalance inside the vehicle, making the truck even more difficult to maneuver. Weight shifts within the trailer also can make the driver more likely to experience a rollover accident when turning or taking corners at speed.
Lack of Experience
Truck drivers are required to obtain a CDL to operate their vehicles on public roadways. To obtain this license, they must pass written and on-the-road tests to prove that they understand the basic operation and safety procedures involved in operating the truck. However, while this training is important, it does not train the driver to handle the day-to-day dangers they face when traveling on roadways in and around Cocoa Beach.
Lack of experience can cause a driver to be unaware of how to do certain tasks that can avoid accidents or lead to performance errors at critical times.
While trucking companies must properly train their drivers, the truck driver shortages that have plagued the industry in recent years have led to vigorous recruitment efforts, the lowering of the minimum age to obtain a CDL, and drivers getting behind the wheel before they’re ready.
The Types of Injuries Associated with Cocoa Beach Truck Accidents
Due to the size discrepancy between tractor-trailers and other vehicle types, truck accident injuries and deaths most often occur to the occupants of other vehicles. The injuries associated with this type of accident are often severe and can include damage to the brain or spine that can permanently impair a driver’s ability to earn an income.
Other injuries associated with Cocoa Beach truck accidents include:
- Traumatic limb amputations result from a driver being crushed inside the vehicle or making contact with sharp metal during the accident.
- Internal injuries, including damage to the heart, lung, liver, kidneys, or spleen, can result in dangerous blood loss, organ failure, and even death.
- Broken bones in nearly any part of the body due to the profound force of a collision involving a heavy and fast-moving tractor-trailer.
- Burns resulting from contact with flames, hot surfaces, and caustic chemicals that were involved in making the vehicles done or were being transported as cargo by the truck.
- During the collision, there are deep cuts and abrasions due to the vehicle’s occupants coming in contact with broken glass, metal, or plastic.
Cocoa Beach truck accident injuries can impact every facet of a person’s life, including their ability to earn an income, live independently, participate in enjoyable activities, and even their relationships with their family and friends.
Call Our Cocoa Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Today
An experienced Cocoa Beach truck accident attorney from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, has the skills, understanding, and experience to make the complex act of seeking compensation for injuries resulting from a truck driver’s negligence. Instead of settling as many cases as quickly as possible, we focus on providing personalized and compassionate services to our clients while fighting aggressively for them to obtain the maximum compensation available for their claims.
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Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
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What is the process of seeking compensation for injuries sustained in truck accidents?
Individuals injured in Cocoa Beach accidents involving commercial trucks caused by someone else’s negligence can seek compensation through Florida’s personal injury claims process. This process involves filing a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance policy directly with the insurer. The insurer will assign a claims adjuster to evaluate the claim and determine how much compensation it feels it owes the claimant, if anything.
If the insurance provider fails to compensate the claim, the victim can file a lawsuit in Cocoa Beach and let a judge or jury determine liability and compensation.
Who is liable when a truck driver causes an accident—the driver or the trucking company?
Liability in a truck accident caused by a truck driver’s negligence depends on the employment category of the driver. Many truck drivers are owners/operators, meaning they own the truck and must properly insure and maintain it. In cases involving owner/operators, you would hold the truck driver liable.
However, many truck drivers also work for trucking companies from around the nation. In cases involving a negligent truck driver employed by a trucking company that owns the truck, the company is generally liable for compensating the injuries through their commercial auto liability insurance policy.
How do I prove liability in a truck accident?
You can prove liability in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver by showing:
- The at-fault truck driver had a duty to take reasonable actions to avoid causing injury or property damage to others by operating their truck safely by following federal trucking regulations and state and local traffic laws.
- A breach in the duty owed by the driver occurred when they took careless or reckless actions that were contrary to avoiding harm to others.
- This breach resulted in a Cocoa Beach truck accident that injured you.
What kind of evidence is needed to prove a truck accident claim?
Considering evidence is one of the more complex parts of a truck accident injury claim.
Some evidence is similar to what you would seek when proving liability in other types of traffic-related crashes, such as:
- A copy of the police report contains a narrative of how the accident occurred based on witness interviews, notes of any citations issued to the truck driver, and the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene.
- Photos of the accident scene that show weather and traffic conditions, the damage to all vehicles involved, debris on the road, or skid marks that can show the severity of the crash or whether the truck driver braked before the accident.
- Medical bills, employer records of time missed from work due to the claimant’s injuries, and other expense documentation to justify the claim’s value.
Additional types of evidence that are unique to truck accident claims include:
- The truck driver’s cell phone records could prove that the driver was using a handheld device to text or talk while driving. Regulations put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for truck drivers operating on a commercial driver’s license prohibit handheld devices while driving a commercial truck.
- The truck driver’s employment records can be accessed to ensure they were qualified to drive the truck.
- The truck’s event data recorder, also known as its “black box,” can show the speed of the truck when the accident occurred, as well as other information about how many hours the truck had been in operation when the accident happened and whether the driver braked to avoid the collision.
- The truck driver’s electronic log can show if they complied with the FCMSA’s Hours of Service requirements, which regulate how many hours the driver is permitted to drive before taking an off-duty break to avoid accidents related to driver fatigue.
- The maintenance and service history of the truck. The owners of commercial trucks are required to commit to a regular maintenance schedule to ensure all parts of the truck are functioning properly. These records are of particular interest if the truck accident resulted from a maintenance issue such as a blown tire or the brakes going out.
- Documentation of the driver’s pre-trip inspection of the truck, which they were required to perform before every trip to look for visible signs of worn parts on the truck.
- The results of the driver’s most recent physical examination and the drug and alcohol screening were performed after the accident to determine if a medical issue or impairment caused the accident.
I have received a settlement offer from the truck driver’s insurance company. Should I accept it?
If you have not yet spoken with an experienced truck accident attorney about your injuries, you should be very careful communicating with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. Insurance claims adjusters—particularly those working for high-powered agencies that insure commercial motor vehicles—are employees of the insurance company hired to protect the insurance company’s bottom line by reducing or eliminating claims made against policies. This job description contradicts the idea of fairly compensating a claimant for their injuries.
Until the claimant’s condition has stabilized and reached a level of maximum medical improvement, they cannot know the expenses they will incur during the treatment of the injury or the impacts the injury will have on their quality of life. That makes accepting a settlement offer quickly after the accident a huge mistake.
Settlement agreements are final and come with the release of any future liability. Suppose the compensation provided to the claimant through the settlement was not enough to cover all of the expenses and impacts they sustained due to the accident. In that case, they cannot go back and seek additional money from the at-fault party’s insurance policy.
Further, initial settlement offers from insurance companies are generally far below the claim’s value. The insurance company offering to settle the claim early indicates that the claim is likely worth far more than they’re offering, and they know it.
An experienced Cocoa Beach truck accident lawyer can properly value your claim to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation available for your claim.
What compensation can I receive for my Cocoa Beach truck accident injuries?
Due to the massive discrepancy between commercial trucks and other vehicles on the roadway, the injuries sustained by the occupants of those vehicles are often quite severe or even catastrophic. Catastrophic injuries produce a high likelihood of permanent disabilities that will result in a loss of the ability of the claimant to earn an income and require additional compensation to account for this lost income for the remainder of the claimant’s life.
In addition to lost earning capacity, individuals who were injured in Cocoa Beach truck accidents can seek compensation for other expenses and impacts incurred from the accident, including:
- Medical expenses related to treating the injuries sustained in the accident and associated complications.
- Wage loss due to being too injured to work.
- Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle the claimant was driving when the accident occurred.
- Physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other psychological impacts of the injury.
If I am a truck driver injured in an accident caused by another driver, can I seek compensation?
Without considering other criteria that make one eligible to seek compensation, truck drivers who other drivers’ carelessness and recklessness injured can seek compensation from the negligent driver’s auto liability insurance policy.
If my loved one died in a truck accident, what process can I use to seek compensation?
Family members can benefit from a wrongful death claim filed by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate.
A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim, with the following distinctions:
- The statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is two years from the date of death.
- The claim cannot be filed by family members but rather by an executor named in the deceased’s will or appointed by the court.
- Plaintiffs can recover expenses related to the deceased’s final medical treatments and the provision of a funeral and burial or cremation; the loss of services and support provided by the deceased; lost earnings from the time of the injury until the time of death; loss of net accumulations to the deceased’s estate, and loss of comfort, care, society, and guidance provided by the deceased to their family members.
Do I have to have an attorney file a truck accident claim in Cocoa Beach?
No one must hire an attorney to seek compensation for their injuries. However, having an experienced attorney to help you navigate the personal injury claims process is crucial to your claim’s success due to the complexities involved in truck accident claims.
Some of the services an attorney can provide to assist you with your claim include:
- Determination of liability and insurance
- Establishing a value for your claim
- Managing communication with the at-fault party’s insurance provider
- Managing the deadline of your claim and filing it within the state’s statute of limitations
- Settlement negotiations
- Litigation services
- Collecting the compensation from a settlement or court award
One of the most commonly cited reasons that many people do not seek the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney is that they fear they cannot afford one. However, most personal injury attorneys use a contingent fee billing method that allows the claimant to withhold payment for their attorney’s services until there is a successful outcome to the claim. This practice ensures that anyone injured or lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence has access to legal services as they pursue compensation.
The contingent fee billing method allows the attorney’s legal team to begin working on the claim without worrying about whether the claimant can pay an upfront investment and keep working on the claim without needing the claimant to stay current on an hourly billing cycle.