Were you seriously injured in a crash with a commercial truck in Clearwater? Were you injured in a big rig accident on Interstate 95 in Miami? Perhaps you were hit by a delivery truck on the Dale Mabry highway in Tampa?
No matter where your trucking accident occurred in Florida, you have a legal right to seek compensation from the “at fault” party. However, after a truck accident, determining the truly liable party is complex and often difficult. There may be multiple parties to blame for your crash and your injuries.
Semi-truck accidents can cause devastating damage and injuries, and victims can find the legal process complicated. It is important to seek help from an experienced Florida Truck Accident Attorney with experience going up against trucking companies and their insurers. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is here to assist you so please do not wait to call for help today.
If you or a family member is a truck accident victim struggling with injuries, medical bills, and other losses, talk to an attorney about your legal rights and options.
Choose the Best Florida Truck Accident Attorney Near You
Our Florida Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
Choosing the best Florida truck accident attorney near you is an important, yet personal decision. You need to find an attorney that you feel comfortable talking with and who understands the intricacies of your accident and injuries. The right attorney for your case will be one that knows how to investigate these accidents and uncover all liable parties. Your attorney will need to work quickly to preserve valuable evidence before it is lost or destroyed. That means you need to choose an attorney quickly in order to give your case the best chance of succeeding.
But how do you choose the best attorney for your Florida truck accident case? Before deciding on an attorney to represent you, consider the following:
- Does your attorney have experience representing truck accident victims in your community?
- Is your attorney an experienced negotiator, as well as a litigator?
- Does your attorney have the time to take on your case?
- Does your lawyer work on a contingency basis?
- How responsive is your attorney?
- Does the law firm have the resources needed to tackle complex or large trucking accident cases?
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we know that you have many choices when it comes to accident lawyers in Florida. We want the opportunity to show you why so many injured Florida truck accident victims and their families choose us to represent them. We offer free consultations and reviews so we can get to know you and your case better. Our lawyers will take this opportunity to answer your questions honestly and help you explore all your legal options. With offices located across the state of Florida, we are there whenever you need us most.
Common Types of Florida Truck Accidents
How Did Your Florida Truck Accident Occur?
Large commercial vehicles were involved in 480,000 accidents in 2015 in the United States, as reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—97,000 of which resulted in serious injuries and 3,838 of which caused fatalities. These truck accidents can occur in many different ways, and the severity of the damage and injuries often depends on the type of crash that occurred.
Types of common Florida truck accidents include:
- Jackknife – A tractor and trailer of an 18-wheeler are attached by a device called a coupling. When the coupling fails or when the trailer gets thrown off balance, the trailer can swing out perpendicular to the tractor, much like a folding jackknife. A jackknifing trailer can collide with any cars in the adjacent lane, causing widespread damage and injuries.
- Runaway truck – When a driver loses their ability to slow down or stop a truck, the weight of the truck can cause it to barrel down the highway—especially if the truck was already moving fast—and hit anything in its path. This commonly happens when a truck is driving downhill, but can also happen on even ground.
- Rollover – Semi-trailers have high centers of gravity, so it is all too easy for them to tip over when drivers go too fast around turns or curves. Trucks can also rollover due to driving too fast in high winds, over-correcting errors, and other sudden driving maneuvers. Trucks that rollover may not only crash onto other vehicles but also cause blockages in the road that lead to chain-reaction crashes.
- Override – Under regular circumstances, a rear-end crash is considered a minor fender-bender. This is not the case with large commercial trucks, however. When a truck rear-ends a smaller vehicle, the truck may actually drive onto the back of the car. Sometimes, the truck can even drive over the back seat, which is usually deadly for any backseat passenger.
- Underride – An underride can occur when a small car crashes into the back of a truck because the truck suddenly stopped or improperly changed lanes. In such cases, the fronts of smaller vehicles can become wedged underneath trucks, often killing motorists in the front seats. Though trucks can have guards to prevent underride collisions, they still occur.
- Cargo spills – Some truck accidents do not involve direct collisions with other vehicles. Instead, cargo falls out of trailers or off of flatbed trucks, either onto other cars or into the road where cars can crash into them.
The potential for severe, life-changing, and expensive injuries can occur no matter the type of truck accident. In many situations, however, truck accident victims have the right to hold drivers and trucking companies liable for their losses. To determine your rights, our attorneys will examine the cause of your accident and the surrounding circumstances.
Common Causes of Truck Crashes in Florida
We Help Injured Florida Truck Accident Victims Like You
Just as there are many types of truck collisions, many factors can cause collisions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that driver error causes the majority of truck accidents in which the truck was assigned as the reason for the crash, and drivers can make many different errors.
Some examples of negligence commonly involved in truck accident cases include:
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving occurs when the operator of a large truck, tractor-trailer, or big rig fails to give proper care or attention to the road. In many instances, the truck driver is paying attention to a cell phone (perhaps one without hands-free technology), tablet, or another electronic device while they are operating a truck. Distracted driving diverts a truck operator’s attention away from the road and increases the likelihood that a serious accident will happen. For example, the distracted driver might fail to see another motor vehicle or pedestrian and bring about a serious collision in which the accident victim suffers injuries.
- Fatigued driving – Truck drivers are often encouraged and incentivized by their employers to drive for hours and hours on end, sometimes without sufficient breaks or sleep. For example, some trucking companies offer their drivers large cash bonuses when they get their cargo to its final destination sooner than expected. When the operator of a large truck is driving while fatigued, they might experience delayed reaction time and can’t stop the truck in time to avoid a collision. The driver may also fall asleep at the wheel, causing a collision with another vehicle and bringing about significant personal injuries and property damage.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – Operating a large truck or tractor-trailer while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a recipe for disaster. In the State of Florida, a driver can be arrested for DUI—or driving under the influence—if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. However, commercial drivers—including commercial truck drivers—are held to a higher legal standard. For these drivers, a 0.04 percent BAC cutoff applies. This is because drivers who operate trucks for a living owe other drivers a higher duty of care than non-professional drivers. Alcohol and other drugs can make a driver’s vision blurry and can delay a driver’s reaction time—both of which can lead to serious traffic collisions. In addition to incurring criminal penalties and fines, truck drivers who operate their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol could incur civil liability if they cause an accident in which one or more people suffer injuries.
- Speeding – When operators of large trucks and tractor-trailers operate their vehicles far above the posted speed limit, they can lose control of their vehicles and bring about a collision with a smaller vehicle. Exceeding the speed limit around a sharp turn could even result in the truck or tractor-trailer overturning in the middle of the roadway. Moreover, when truck drivers exceed the speed limit in wet weather, their trucks could hydroplane, causing the driver to lose control of his or her truck and collide with another vehicle.
- Tailgating – Operators of tractor-trailers, big rigs, and other large trucks should leave sufficient space between the vehicles they operate and any vehicles in front of them. When a truck driver tailgates a smaller vehicle, an accident can occur if the truck driver has to stop for a traffic slowdown or other emergency.
- Other aggressive driving behaviors – Truck drivers are often in a hurry to get to their final destinations—often because of a financial incentive. When drivers engage in aggressive driving maneuvers on busy roadways, including weaving in and out of traffic and failing to use turn signals, they increase the chances that they will cause a serious accident—especially with a smaller vehicle.
- Other violations of traffic laws – Traffic laws are on the books to keep drivers and their passengers safe while on the roadway. When truck drivers speed or otherwise engage in negligent or erratic driving, they could bring about a collision with another motor vehicle that results in serious injuries and property damage.
- Violations of FMCSA regulations (including improper securing or loading cargo) – Federal and state motor carrier regulations are on the books to encourage safe truck operation. These regulations pertain to load limits, how crews must secure cargo to a trailer, and overhead and undercarriage lights on tractors and trailers. When truck cargo is too heavy or securement is improper to a trailer, it could cause the vehicle to overturn in the middle of the roadway or dislodge from the trailer into the path of an oncoming motor vehicle. Similarly, when overhead and undercarriage lights are not illuminated or are not working properly, the tractor or trailer may not be visible to other motor vehicle operators. Consequently, truck drivers and trucking companies must comply with both state and federal motor carrier regulations to prevent roadway accidents from occurring in the first place.
- Driving with serious health problems – Some truck drivers suffer from seizures, heart problems, and other serious health issues. When truck drivers who suffer from these illnesses experience an attack or other adverse reaction while operating their vehicles out on the road, they could cause a serious accident.
- Inadequate inspection or maintenance of trucks – Truck drivers and trucking companies are required to regularly inspect their vehicles, including tractors and trailers, and ensure that all mechanical components are in working order. Similarly, truck repair facilities are responsible for properly inspecting mechanical equipment on trucks and trailers—and for ensuring that all of these components are in proper working order. Truck repair facilities must make all repairs in a safe and workmanlike manner. When truck equipment is not properly maintained or repaired properly, the truck could malfunction while out on the road, leading to a serious motor vehicle accident.
- Hiring unqualified or dangerous drivers – Trucking companies are responsible for hiring qualified, safe, and responsible drivers to operate their vehicles on the roadway. This includes performing thorough criminal background checks on all prospective drivers and determining whether these individuals have a history of driving infractions. Trucking companies must also ensure that the drivers whom they hire have sufficient experience operating large trucks on the roadway. When a trucking company hires an unqualified, inexperienced, or dangerous driver, the chances of a motor vehicle accident increase.
- Inadequate management and supervision of truck drivers – In addition to ensuring that they hire safe, experienced, and qualified drivers, trucking companies are responsible for adequately managing and supervising truck drivers. This includes performing regular drug tests on drivers, regularly inspecting all trucking equipment, and administering regular driver performance reviews and evaluations. Trucking companies should also require continuing education and ongoing certifications for truck drivers to increase the chances that drivers will operate their vehicles safely and carefully while on the road.
Injuries, and Medical Treatments That Victims of Truck Accidents Often Require
Victims of Florida truck accidents can suffer extremely serious injuries. This is especially true if the accident occurs at a high rate of speed. When a large truck collides with a smaller vehicle, it is usually the occupants of the smaller vehicle who suffer the more serious injuries. In a forceful collision, accident victims’ bodies can be thrown around and about the interior of the vehicle and could strike something inside the vehicle, such as the steering wheel, headrest, window, dashboard, or console.
When a driver or passenger strikes something in the vehicle, they could suffer any of the following injuries:
- Soft tissue injuries – Soft tissue injuries include muscular contusions, sprains, and strains. Although these injuries do not involve a fracture or broken bone, they can still be painful and might require a significant amount of recovery time. In some instances, these injuries can even be permanent.
- Bone fractures – A bone fracture occurs when there is a break in one or more bones and can result in significant pain, as well as the need for immediate surgery. Like soft tissue injuries, broken bones can result in permanent impairment.
- Traumatic head injuries – A traumatic head injury might involve a blunt injury to the exterior or interior of the head, as well as damage to the accident victim’s brain. When a person strikes his or her head on a window or headrest in a truck accident, the force of this impact could disrupt the brain’s ‘internal wiring’—including the brain’s neurons and axons. The impact could also result in bruising or a concussion. While some traumatic head injuries are relatively minor and could result in minor symptoms, such as short-term memory loss, others can lead to long-term effects, permanent impairments, coma, or even death.
- Back and paralysis injuries – Some truck accidents result in damage to the accident victim’s spinal cord, which in turn can lead to the accident victim’s inability to move or feel in one or more areas of the body.
In many instances, these injuries require a significant amount of medical treatment. For example, the accident victim might need to take an ambulance to the hospital and have imaging studies done. In addition, the accident victim may need to follow up with a primary care doctor or a medical specialist. Finally, they might have to undergo medical procedures, such as surgery or injections, and might spend a significant amount of time in physical therapy.
All of this treatment can be costly, and an accident victim can incur significant medical bills and expenses. Even if the accident victim has health insurance, they could still pursue monetary compensation for all related medical treatment expenses.
The knowledgeable Florida truck accident lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, could assist you with pursuing the compensation that you deserve for the injuries you suffered in your Florida truck accident. We can do this by filing a claim or lawsuit against the truck driver who caused your accident and/or the trucking company that employs the negligent driver.
Statute of Limitations for Florida Truck Accident Cases
Injured accident victims in Florida truck collision cases have a limited deadline in which to file a claim or lawsuit arising from their injuries. In the State of Florida, this statute of limitations begins running on the date of the accident and lasts for four years thereafter, absent exceptional circumstances. If you have suffered an injury in a truck accident, you should assume that this four-year statute of limitations applies to your case. If you or your lawyer do not file a lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, you will forever waive your right to recover monetary compensation in your truck accident case.
An experienced Florida truck accident attorney at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, can ensure they file your lawsuit within the required deadline. We could then pursue a favorable settlement offer from the truck driver’s insurance company, and if necessary, litigate your case to a favorable conclusion in the Florida court system.
Legal Burden of Proof for Victims of Florida Truck Accidents
In truck accident cases that accident victims pursue in the State of Florida, the accident victim has the legal burden of proof. In other words, the accident victim must prove that the truck driver did something wrong, such as by violating a rule of the road or a motor carrier regulation, and that this violation resulted in the accident, which in turn led to injuries and other damages. The truck driver and/or the trucking company do not have to prove anything in the case. Rather, the legal burden rests entirely with the accident victim plaintiff.
When it comes to proving liability and damages in a truck accident case, accident victims are often facing an uphill battle. This is because trucking companies and their insurers will fight every step of the way. They want to do everything that they can to limit their liability exposure and to pay out as little money as possible to satisfy a Florida truck accident claim. Consequently, witness testimony often becomes very important when proving the various legal elements of a truck accident case.
For example, eyewitnesses to the accident might testify as to their observations regarding how the accident occurred, the directions of the vehicles, and the relative speeds of the vehicles. Accident reconstructionists could also lend their expertise to determine how the accident likely happened. Medical experts are often necessary to causally connect a particular injury to an accident. In addition, they might conclude that a truck accident injury exacerbated a pre-existing injury.
The knowledgeable team of Florida truck accident lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, can assist you with proving all of the necessary legal elements of your claim. In addition, we can help you pursue the monetary compensation that you need to fully recover financially following your truck accident.
Losses Caused by Semi-truck Collisions
Truck accident victims often incur overwhelming losses due to the severity of their injuries. Once a negligent party or parties are identified, we then assist clients in assessing the full value of their losses to ensure they seek the maximum amount of compensation possible. We regularly recover compensation for the following and more:
- Medical expenses
- Estimated future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Future lost earning ability
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Wrongful death
These losses can be extensive, so there is usually a lot at stake in truck accident claims—and you want experienced, responsive representation throughout the legal process.
If you are still wondering whether or not your situation justifies hiring a personal injury attorney, read our article in which we get the advice of over 20 different attorneys about when a victim needs to hire an injury attorney.
Discuss Your Situation With an Experienced Florida Truck Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
The legal team at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA regularly represents clients during insurance claims and personal injury claims in court following serious accidents and injuries. If you or a family member was injured, please call a Florida personal injury attorney at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.
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