Commercial trucks race along Florida's freeways every day, transporting goods in and out of the state. These trucks play a vital role in the national economy, but their size, weight, and speed pose a threat to any vehicle that gets in their way. At Dolman Law Group, we represent injured motorists who have suffered serious injuries after collisions with commercial trucks. If you've been injured in a truck accident, our Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorneys are here to help.
Causes of Truck Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collects statistics about commercial vehicles involved in collisions. Based on their analysis, the leading causes of truck accidents include:
- Brake problems (29%)
- Truck drivers going too fast for the conditions (23%)
- Driver's lack of familiarity with the road (22%)
- Problems with the road (20%)
- Truckers using over-the-counter drugs (17%)
- Insufficient surveillance from the driver (14%)
- Driver fatigue (13%)
- Illegal maneuver from the driver (9%)
Because accidents can have multiple causes, these statistics total more than 100%. It is important to note, however, that the statistics show that drivers contribute to a large percentage of accidents, either by driving too fast for conditions, making illegal maneuvers, using drugs, or driver fatigue. Trucking companies may also often be responsible for failure to perform adequate brake maintenance, insufficient driver training, or pushing drivers to exceed maximum hours and meet stringent deadlines.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Because of their size, commercial trucks can cause devastating injuries, especially to pedestrians, motorcyclists, and the occupants of passenger vehicles. Among the catastrophic injuries we commonly see are:
- Crushed arms and legs
- Internal organ damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Fractured vertebrae in the neck or back
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Herniated discs
- Internal bleeding
- Organ failure
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Bone breaks and fractures
These injuries can have long-lasting consequences. For example, spinal cord injuries typically cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat. Victims will need surgery to stabilize their spinal cord and rehabilitation to relearn simple, everyday tasks. Over a lifetime, someone with incomplete motor function due to a spinal cord injury can require extensive assistive and rehabilitative care. More serious spinal cord injuries—such as paraplegia—can cost several million dollars to treat.
Even relatively minor injuries such as concussions, cuts, lacerations, strains, and sprains can be costly to treat. These injuries can worsen if you do not receive adequate medical treatment, so seek immediate medical attention if you are involved in a truck accident.
Negligence That Causes Semi-Truck Accidents
To receive compensation for your injuries, you need to show that someone else is to blame for the accident. In other words, you must show that the truck driver was negligent and did not exercise reasonable care while driving.
Truck drivers can be negligent in many ways, including:
- Distracted driving
- Failing to yield
- Following a vehicle too closely
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while tired
- Improperly securing the cargo in the trailer
- Overloading the truck
- Failing to inspect the vehicle properly before driving
You might also be able to sue the trucking company for negligent hiring. For example, a trucking company might not have performed necessary background checks before hiring a driver, or they might have inadequately trained their employees.
Defective Trucks Cause Severe Accidents
Sometimes, neither truck drivers nor trucking companies are responsible for a collision. Instead, some part of the vehicle was defective, and the driver lost control of the vehicle when the part malfunctioned. In these situations, you can often sue the manufacturer of the defective truck part along with the vehicle manufacturer. To prevail, you must show that the part was unreasonably dangerous because of a defect in how the product was designed or manufactured.
You might also be able to sue other people who moved the truck in the stream of commerce, including:
Identifying who to sue is confusing, but don't worry. Your truck accident lawyer can review the facts surrounding the collision and identify the company or person responsible for the accident.
Florida Pure Comparative Negligence Laws
It is more common than you might think for truck accident victims in Florida to share fault for their injuries. However, if you thought that sharing liability would prevent you from recovering compensation for your damages, nothing could be further from the truth. Under Florida statute, the state follows a pure comparative negligence system.
While in other states, sharing liability could prevent you from recovering compensation, pure comparative negligence states operate from a different standpoint. Here, you can share up to 99% of the blame for the accident and still recover compensation for the 1% of liability that is not yours. It is important to keep in mind, however, that your injury settlement will be reduced to reflect your portion of fault. This way, you are held accountable for your percentage of liability. Let's look at an example:
Jim wasn't wearing his seatbelt when he was struck by a drowsy truck driver. The judge found him 15% liable for his injuries. The jury awarded Jim $100,000 for his injuries. Because he was 15% at fault, he was only able to recover $85,000 of his initial $100,000 injury settlement.
If you have questions or concerns surrounding how Florida shared fault laws could have an impact on your Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawsuit, do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss your case in greater detail.
Compensation for Physical Truck Accident Injuries
Physical injuries not only hurt but can cost you tens of thousands of dollars—or more—to treat. Fortunately, you can recover compensation for a variety of economic and non-economic harm if someone else is liable for your accident. Recoverable damages typically include:
- Lost wages
- Lost future wages, if your injuries prevent you from returning to your job
- Medical bills
- Future medical care, if your injuries require ongoing treatment
- Property damage to your vehicle
To establish how much these economic losses cost you, you should keep all medical bills, receipts, and proof of lost income (like pay stubs or tax returns). Your lawyer will use this information as evidence to prove the amount of damages you are entitled to recover. You can also receive compensation for non-economic injuries, such as pain and suffering.
Compensation for Emotional Harm
Not all injuries are physical. After a devastating crash, you might face an avalanche of negative emotions that dramatically decrease your quality of life. Helpfully, Florida law allows injured victims to receive compensation for emotional distress, including:
For example, after suffering burns or disfiguring scars on your face, you might avoid being seen in public and withdraw from family and friends, leading to depression and anger. It is difficult to put a price tag on these emotional injuries. Unlike economic losses, you don't have a bill or receipt that shows how much they cost. Nevertheless, you can still recover compensation for them, especially if you have a skilled personal injury attorney to assist you.
To help prove emotional distress, you can submit evidence including:
- Your own testimony about how the accident has changed you emotionally.
- Testimony from people who know you—friends, family, colleagues—who can testify about how your emotional state has changed since the accident.
- Testimony from a mental health counselor or therapist.
- Proof of prescription medications necessary to treat anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Who Is Liable for My Truck Accident Injuries?
With many truck accidents, the party that will be clearly at fault will be the driver of the semi-truck. The driver is the one directly in control of the vehicle, and there are a number of ways that their negligence can result in a dangerous collision. What many people may not realize is that there could possibly be other parties that can be held liable for their semi-truck accident injuries. In fact, there may be several parties that contributed negligence to a single accident, and all may be held liable in a semi-truck accident injury claim. Common parties found liable for semi-truck accidents include:
- The trucking company
- A semi-truck parts manufacturer
- Semi-truck maintenance provider
- Party in charge of maintaining the road the truck crashed on
- The loaders of the semi-truck
Florida Truck Accident Statute of Limitations
If you are considering legal action following your Fort Lauderdale truck accident, it is important that you move forward with your case in a timely manner. If your lawsuit is not filed before the statute of limitations expires, you will no longer have the right to maximum compensation for your damages.
Under Florida Statute § 95.11, truck accident claims and other types of personal injury claims must be filed within four years. However, this date can often be unclear depending on when you were diagnosed with injuries relating to the accident. Furthermore, surviving family members of someone who has passed away from fatal truck accident injuries will not file their claim under the truck accident statute of limitations. Instead, you need to contact a wrongful death attorney in Fort Lauderdale before the statute of limitations runs out on your wrongful death claim.
Generally, wrongful death lawsuits have a time limit of two years before the deadline expires under Florida Statute § 95.11(4)(d). Find out how much longer you have to pursue your case when you contact your truck accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale with questions and concerns.
Why Hire Dolman Law Group As Your Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Attorney?
After suffering from a truck accident, most victims want to maximize the amount of financial compensation they can receive for their pain and suffering. While it’s possible to represent yourself in a civil case, hiring an expert personal injury lawyer significantly increases your chances of winning your case as well as receiving the compensation you deserve. At Dolman Law Group we are committed to helping your case in the following ways:
- Investigate the cause of the accident, dashcam footage, and maintenance records of the truck.
- Contact any potential witnesses to the accident.
- Consult experts in the trucking industry.
- Communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf and negotiate a fair settlement amount.
- Represent you in court at trial if an appropriate settlement amount cannot be reached.
By meeting with Dolman Law Group, our personal injury attorneys will be able to provide you with an expert opinion on your Florida truck injury case. Our firm has handled more than 10,000 personal injury cases, ranging from minor to catastrophic, and we are positive we can help you with yours.
Speak With a Truck Accident Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
If you have been involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer or other commercial truck, help is available.
At Dolman Law Group, our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys have assisted numerous accident victims recover legal compensation from the parties at fault so that they can begin repairing their lives. Florida law imposes deadlines on the amount of time you have to bring suit after an accident, so don't delay. Contact us today for a free consultation or call (754) 208-1130.
Fort Lauderdale Office
150 E Davie Blvd Suite 201-2
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Phone: (754) 208-1130
What Our Clients Have to Say:
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