If you have been injured in a truck accident, we recommend you contact the Orlando truck accident lawyers at Spetsas Buist as soon as possible to protect your rights. Truck accident cases are difficult to navigate, and it’s best to have an attorney at your side to fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve. Now, let’s talk a bit about truck accidents in Florida.
The massive size of commercial vehicles makes them especially dangerous on the road because they’re so much larger than the other vehicles. In fact, commercial vehicles may weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while your typical automobile weighs around 3,000 pounds. Thus, a commercial vehicle accident can be particularly devastating.
In addition to the horror of a truck accident, a truck accident lawsuit is typically much more complex than your average personal injury lawsuit because of the evidence involved and the investigations required. For example, your Orlando truck accident lawyer must work through a variety of regulations, industry standards, company policies, and safety protocols to make sure your rights are protected.
If you or a loved one have been hurt in an accident involving a truck, semi, 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, delivery vehicle, or any other type of commercial truck, you may be entitled to compensation. We recommend you speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident so that your attorneys have time to do a proper inspection and investigation.
Compensation After a Florida Truck Accident
Trucking accidents are horrifying because truck accidents typically involve catastrophic impacts. Thus, the medical bills can be very high, and the pain and suffering can be severe. You may be entitled to compensation for the damages you suffered as a result of a truck accident. Here are some types of damages commonly associated with truck accidents:
Medical bills include the costs of diagnosing and treating your injuries. Your medical bills also include your future medical bills and the costs, as well as the costs of transporting you to your appointments.
Lost Wages & Missed Work
This includes the paychecks you missed because your truck accident injuries prevented you from being able to go to work. This type of compensation could cover not only your current lost wages but also may cover your future lost wages.
Pain & Suffering
Pain and suffering is the conventional type of non-economic damage. It includes emotional and psychological damages, as well as things like loss of quality of life.
Property damage would include things like the replacement or repair of your vehicle.
In addition to the list above, you may have a viable wrongful death claim if you lost a loved one in a trucking accident. As a result, you may be entitled to compensation for the expenses associated with your loss. The attorneys at Spetsas Buist PLLC can help.
Common Causes of Florida Truck Accidents
As Florida’s economy continues to boom, there will inevitably be an increase in commercial trucks on Florida roads. Thus, the number of truck accidents will likely increase. Below are some of the more common causes of truck accidents in Florida.
This is a leading cause of all kinds of traffic accidents. Unfortunately, people can’t seem to focus or stop looking at their phones, even when they’re driving massive trucks. Truck drivers that use a phone or eat while driving increase the chances of a truck accident dramatically because a brief lapse in focus can quickly turn into an accident.
Commercial trucks like 18-wheelers have large blind spots around all four sides. Sometimes inexperienced or irresponsible truckers will turn or switch lanes without checking their blind spots. Thus, blind spots are the cause of a lot of truck accidents in Florida.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a fully loaded truck traveling in good road conditions at normal highway speeds requires a distance of nearly two full football fields to stop. Thus, if a truck is speeding, it puts all the other vehicles on the road in danger because of how much space it needs to slow down.
The danger of drunk driving is multiplied when the driver is behind the wheel of a huge and complex commercial truck. So, the DUI rules for CDL holders are more stringent because operating a commercial vehicle requires more skill and control than operating a normal automobile. For that reason, CDL holders with a blood alcohol content of over .04 percent are considered over the limit.
Truckers work long hours, and it’s easy for truckers to get fatigued while driving. Regardless of the type of vehicle, drivers are not able to focus or react as quickly when they’re tired. Thus, the Florida Statutes limit the amount of time truckers can spend on the road, and the FLHSMV elegantly explains the interstate hours of service rules.
Big commercial vehicles require more time and space to make a turn than other vehicles. Accordingly, because commercial vehicle turns are complex, they are the cause of a lot of truck accidents. For example, truck drivers can easily miscalculate and make a wide left-hand turn right in front of a speeding vehicle and cause an accident. They can also turn too fast and throw cargo onto the road, which also causes accidents.
Who Is Liable in a Florida Trucking Accident?
Depending on the circumstances, there may be several liable defendants in a truck accident case because the driver is often an employee. This brings in the legal doctrine, respondeat superior. Essentially, this just means that an employer is liable for the damages caused by actions or omissions of an employee working within the scope of his or her employment.
There are several ways the truck driver may be held liable for a truck accident. For example, if the driver was intoxicated or distracted by a cell phone, that driver could be held liable. Also, the driver may be liable for driving too many hours or driving while drowsy. Thus, a truck driver can be held liable for many reasons.
The trucking company could be held liable for its employee’s truck accident. For example, the company could have cut corners on safety equipment, or it could have pushed its employees too hard and for too many hours. The trucking company may also incur liability if it negligently hires someone who is clearly a danger to the community. Therefore, a trucking company often bears responsibility for truck accidents, but uncovering that liability can require a thorough investigation.
There may be situations where the trucking company does not own the commercial vehicle but instead leases the commercial vehicle. In that situation, the truck owner may have the responsibility to inspect the commercial vehicle and make sure it’s safe. The owner, for example, may be required to maintain the brakes, fluids, tires, etc. Like the trucking company, a truck owner can bear responsibility for truck accidents, but it often requires a bit of investigation to uncover this liability.
Some truck accidents occur because of defective parts or faulty equipment. Manufacturers have a duty to ensure their products are safe and function properly. If a truck accident is caused by a defective part, the truck’s manufacturer may be held liable or partially liable for the damages caused by the truck accident. Uncovering this type of defect typically requires a thorough investigation.
Some truck accidents are caused by improperly secured cargo. As you can imagine, if cargo becomes loose and falls from a tractor-trailer on a busy road, the resulting accident can be horrifying.
Florida Commercial Vehicle Accident Statistics
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) compiles traffic accident data for Florida every year. Below are some of the most relevant truck accident statistics in Florida from 2018 and 2019.
Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Florida
The FLHSMV defines a “crash” as the operation of a motor vehicle in Florida that results in property damage, complaint of bodily injury, bodily injury, or death to any person.
- 2018 / 45,353 Commercial Vehicle Crashes
- 2019 / 45,636 Commercial Vehicle Crashes
Injuries From Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Florida
In this context, the FLHSMV defines an “injury” as the total number of people who sustained bodily hurt or damage or complained of bodily hurt or damage as a result of a traffic crash.
- 2018 / 11,971 Injuries from Commercial Vehicle Crashes
- 2019 / 12,271 Injuries from Commercial Vehicle Crashes
Fatalities From Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Florida
In this context, a “fatality” is a death that results from a traffic crash, and only fatalities that occurred within 30 days of the crash are considered traffic-related.
- 2018 / 293 Fatalities from Commercial Vehicle Crashes
- 2019 / 316 Fatalities from Commercial Vehicle Crashes
Common Truck Accident Injuries
In a Florida truck accident, the people in the smaller vehicles are most likely to be seriously injured or killed because of the truck’s size and weight. Thus, there are many types of injuries you can suffer in a truck accident. Here are some of the more common types of injuries people suffer in Florida truck accidents.
Head & Brain Injuries
Head and brain injuries include things like concussions, traumatic brain injuries, brain bleeding, skull fractures, or disfiguring injuries that require plastic surgery. Unfortunately, traumatic brain injury is a common result of truck accidents.
Neck, Back & Spine Injuries
These types of injuries include things like whiplash, spinal cord damage, herniated discs, or strains and sprains. These are common injuries in a truck accident case.
Burn injuries from truck accidents include fatal or disfiguring burns that may require skin grafts and other surgeries. Serious burn injuries often cause disfigurement and can require multiple plastic surgeries to restore.
Soft Tissue Injuries
A soft tissue injury includes injuries to the skin, muscles, and tendons, which can often result in extreme and lasting pain.
A bone injury could include broken and bruised bones, which can require surgery to repair and lots of time to heal.
The injuries above are just a few of the types of injuries victims suffer in truck accidents. If you’ve experienced any of these injuries above as a result of a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Therefore, we recommend you contact our Orlando truck accident lawyers for a free consultation as soon as possible after your truck accident.
What to Do After a Florida Truck Accident
As we mentioned above, truck accidents are terrifying, and it can be very difficult to make decisions directly after a truck accident. So we have prepared a checklist of things you should do after a truck accident to protect yourself and your case:
Get to Safety
Oftentimes, vehicles come to rest in an unsafe location after a truck accident, and other drivers may not be able to see you or your vehicle in time to safely react. Thus, if your vehicle is in a dangerous location after a trucking accident, you should move your vehicle to a safe spot on the side of the road if you can safely do so.
Stop at the Scene
Like any other accident, you should not drive away too early. Instead, stop your vehicle in a safe location after you’ve been in a truck accident and make sure to cooperate with the police. That way, you won’t be charged with something like a hit-and-run.
You should call 911 after any truck accident or vehicle accident if you think people are hurt. However, if you only need to file an accident report, you can likely just contact the local police department at its non-emergency number.
Get Medical Help
If people at the scene of the truck accident are hurt, seek medical help immediately. Additionally, if you were injured in a truck accident, try to see a doctor as soon as possible, even if you’re only experiencing slight or minor pain. Some serious health issues are not immediately apparent. This ensures your safety and puts your injuries on the record.
Get Contact Info of Other Drivers
If possible, get the truck driver’s contact and insurance information. Also, try to get the name of the trucking company. This type of information is often in the police report, but it is crucial to get this information as quickly as possible.
Get Contact Info for Witnesses
There are often witnesses at the scene of the truck accident that are willing to help. However, witnesses can disappear after an accident if you don’t have their contact information. Therefore, try to get the contact info of any witnesses to your truck accident as soon as you safely can.
Use Your Words Carefully
Cooperate with the police. However, do not ever say anything that could be construed as an admission of fault. Do not state your opinion about what happened, and do not apologize for anything. Also, do not ramble or talk about any unnecessary details. Overall, try to keep quiet as much as possible.
Don't Talk to the Insurance Folks
Although you should cooperate with the men and women of the police force, you have no obligation to talk to the folks at the insurance company. If an insurance adjuster shows up at the truck accident scene, do not engage with that person more than you have to. Above all, avoid saying anything that may undermine your claim. We recommend you speak to your Orlando truck accident attorney before you sign anything the insurance company wants you to sign.
Take Pictures & Videos of the Scene
Fresh evidence is the best kind of evidence. So if it is possible and safe to do so, take pictures of the vehicles involved, the accident scene, and any tire marks on the road. Also, if you can do so safely, take a quick video of the truck accident scene. Pictures and videos could help your attorneys prove important facts, as well as how the truck accident happened.
Do You Need to Speak to an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney?
When you’re facing a financial burden caused by another party’s negligence, you need an attorney who will fight for you like family. Spetsas Buist is based in Orlando but serves clients in all of Florida, as well as in South Carolina and North Carolina. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.