If you've been hit by a commercial semi-truck, the chances are that you've sustained some sort of injury. Because of the massive size of trucks, injuries are generally more frequent and severe than with car vs. car accidents.
The Florida personal injury attorneys at Weinstein Legal help commercial truck accident victims get a full and fair recovery for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and much more. Contact us immediately for a free consultation.
Hit By a Truck? Why You Need a Lawyer
There are many laws and regulations for commercial trucking. This makes semi-truck accident claims much more complex than other types of accidents. A trucking accident attorney will be knowledgeable about the legal strategies that they can use to your advantage to pursue a successful claim.
If you have been hit by a truck, you may have already been approached by an adjuster or lawyer with an initial settlement offer. In many cases, they'll offer to cut you a check for your injuries, property damage, and inconvenience. They might even suggest that you don't need to hire your own lawyer since the insurance company is ready to settle. The only problem is that you have no idea how much your medical bills will eventually be or how long you'll be out of work. Once you accept their payment and sign a liability waiver or release, you are committed to the initial settlement offer. If your expenses exceed that amount, you can't go back and sue for more.
Our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means that we will not charge you for professional legal advice. Weinstein Legal will only collect a legal fee if you win.
Who is Liable in a Semi-Truck Accident?
Every accident is different, but there are a number of additional factors that can affect liability in semi-truck accident cases. In Florida, both parties can be held liable under the state's comparative fault law. This can be the case with semi-truck accidents. Truck drivers and trucking companies are held to a higher standard of care than other drivers. That gives a personal injury lawyer more avenues to pursue a claim on your behalf. The following categories represent the types of fault that attorneys often use in truck accident claims.
Truck Driver Negligence
One of the most common causes of truck accidents is truck driver negligence. The safe operation of a truck requires training, experience, and diligence. One momentary lapse in attention or judgment can cause a serious accident, but many truck drivers push their bodies to their limits and don't take advantage of mandatory rest periods. This frequently leads to poor performance behind the wheel.
Trucking Company Liability
Most trucks are owned or leased by either a trucking company or a commercial business. The fleet owner is responsible for the vehicles' maintenance and fitness for the road. Poor maintenance regimens can be dangerous to truck drivers and other drivers on the roadways. Additionally, trucking companies are responsible for ensuring that their drivers are complying with state and federal trucking laws with regard to maintaining a logbook, adhering to required rest periods, etc.
Not all accidents are the fault of the vehicle driver or owner. Occasionally, manufacturer defects can create a condition that leads to an accident. For instance, if part of the load shifts during transport and is dumped on the road due to a defective hinge on the doors, the truck-trailer manufacturer may be partially responsible.
Semi-truck drivers are trained to pay attention to road conditions, but a defective road can create a dangerous condition for all vehicles. With much heavier vehicles, the peril is even greater. Even something as common as a pothole or a soft shoulder can cause the driver of the semitrailer truck to lose control of the vehicle.
Other vehicles are also capable of causing an accident. These third-party vehicles may be partially or entirely responsible for the accident. An example of this would be a car or truck cutting off the semi-truck in their lane. The truck might take evasive action to avoid impact with that vehicle, causing it to hit another vehicle. In this scenario, the third-party vehicle would incur some liability even though they weren't directly involved in the impact.
If you've been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, you're entitled to compensation. Weinstein Legal's personal injury team will determine which parties are at fault and will pursue them for damages. Call today.
The Severity of Truck Accident Injuries
In the year 2020, Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reported that there were 29 fatalities, 111 incapacitating injuries, 389 non-incapacitating injuries, and 789 possible injures of the approximately 28,000 accidents involving trucks over 10,000 lbs. That makes accidents with large trucks approximately three times deadlier than accidents with cars.
The Physics Behind Semi-Truck Accidents
According to the EPA, the average weight of a car is a little over two tons. Comparatively, the weight of a cab and empty trailer is about 35,000 lbs or 17.5 tons. That means, with all other factors being equal (relatively speed at the time of impact being particularly important) the energy of an impact with a semi-truck is about 4.5 times greater than another car. This is why getting hit by a truck often leads to more severe injuries and also why truck drivers have to get special licensing and training.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer Will Help You
If you've been involved in an accident with a semi-truck, you may be asking yourself, “Why would I need a lawyer if I got hit by a truck? Why not just take the settlement offer on the table?” The fact of the matter is that a truck accident lawyer does much more than just talk to the insurance company and collect your settlement check. Here are just a few ways that an attorney can help you with your truck accident claim.
One of the most important roles of an attorney is to determine your damages. This goes far beyond tallying your medical bills. In addition to calculating your economic damages, a truck accident attorney will also determine the amount you deserve for pain and suffering, mental anguish, future lost earnings, and other non-economic costs.
Collection of Evidence
With a semi-truck accident, there is a substantial amount of evidence that your attorney must review. This includes but is not limited to medical records, police reports, trucker logs, manifests, travel times, video evidence if it exists, physical evidence from the vehicles involved and the roadway, etc. The attorney may also depose witnesses to get testimonial evidence. In addition to the evidence that your lawyer secures, they must also review discovery evidence from the defendant.
Many cases are determined by the opinions of medical experts and accident reconstruction experts. Your attorney must identify the best experts for your case and consult with them before proceeding.
Determining who's at fault is not always so obvious. A truck accident liability attorney can review the physical and testimonial evidence and determine the degree of liability for each party.
Negotiating With the Responsible Party
Insurers know that once an experienced personal injury lawyer is involved, their initial settlement offer has little chance of being accepted. A personal injury lawyer handles all negotiations with the responsible party.
A small percentage of personal injury cases are settled in the courts. However, if the attorney does not get a full settlement offer that fairly compensates their client for all damages, the case may have to go to trial. That's why it's essential to hire an experienced litigator, like the lawyers at Weinstein Legal. The lawyers at Weinstein Legal will diligently pursue a fair settlement, but if the insurance companies won't give in, you'll have an experienced litigation team in your corner.
Steps to Take Following a Truck Accident
There are several things that you can do following a truck accident that can help you make a faster recovery and solidify your claim. Here are a few suggestions.
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- From a safe location, take pictures and video of the accident scene. Make sure you include the position of the vehicles, damages, injuries, the debris on the roadway, the truck's placard and signage, road signs, and anything else that you think would help clarify the circumstances around the accident.
- Get the names and contact information of potential witnesses before they leave.
- Make a note of the condition of the truck's tires. Many accidents are caused by a tractor-trailer tire blowout.
- If your accident occurred in Orange, Broward, or Palm Beach County, contact Weinstein Legal at the earliest opportunity.
Do not accept a settlement from the trucking company or their insurers before speaking to an attorney.
Florida Truck Accident Attorneys
When you're involved in a serious semi-truck accident, you need an experienced Florida truck accident attorney to negotiate your settlement. Our firm works on a contingency basis and will not charge you out-of-pocket fees. Call today.