Accidents involving 18-wheelers can be particularly devastating for the occupants of passenger vehicles. The result is often serious injury or fatality for those in the smaller car. After your accident, you may find yourself wondering how to find help paying your medical bills, covering your living expenses, or dealing with the financial ramifications of a loved one’s final care.
A Clearwater 18-wheeler accident lawyer with the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help you seek compensation. To get started, call our team.
Truck Accidents and Injuries
Large transport vehicles, like 18-wheelers, can weigh as much as 30 times more than passenger cars, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). Even at lower speeds, what may be a minor collision between smaller, lighter cars can be catastrophic if it happens with a large truck.
Large trucks take longer to stop than passenger vehicles. Their taller height can cause smaller vehicles to get wedged beneath them in a crash, known as a carriage underride accident. Their higher center of gravity makes them more susceptible to rollover accidents.
Some 18-wheelers carry hazardous or flammable material, like oil and gasoline, that poses an additional risk if there is a crash or a spill. An 18-wheeler’s wide turning radius can contribute to accidents. Just like passenger vehicles, 18-wheelers can also be involved in rear-end collisions, front impact collisions, and broadside accidents.
The results of an 18-wheeler accident are often devastating injuries and even death. Of the 4,119 people who died in large truck accidents in 2019, the IIHS found nearly 70% were those in smaller vehicles. Fifteen percent of fatalities were bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.
Those who survive an accident with an 18-wheeler may suffer severe injuries, including:
- Broken or crushed limbs
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Organ damage
- Neck and spinal injuries
Sometimes, these injuries can lead to permanent paralysis, lifelong cognitive and physical disabilities, scarring, and disfigurement. If someone else caused your crash, they should help pay for your physical recovery and financial damages.
Because they involve commercial vehicles, 18-wheeler accident cases may be more complex than those with two motorists driving their own cars and carrying their own individual insurance. Depending on the specifics of your accident, there may be multiple negligent parties, including the company that employs the truck driver. A Clearwater 18-wheeler accident lawyer can investigate your crash and attempt to prove who was negligent. This may include:
- The truck driver: The driver of the 18-wheeler may be negligent if they were excessively speeding, driving under the influence, or disobeyingFederal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)Hours of Service regulations.
- The owner of the 18-wheeler: Not all drivers own the trucks they drive. Sometimes, the driver’s employer or a third party owns or leases the truck. If an issue related to poor truck maintenance or neglect of vehicle safety regulations caused your accident, the 18-wheeler’s owner might be liable.
- The trucking company that employs the driver: A driver’s employer may be vicariously liable in a crash. For example, responsibility may rest with an employer if they failed to properly vet the driver before hiring them or put unreasonable pressure on the driver to make speedy deliveries, resulting in FMCSA violations and unsafe driving.
- The company responsible for shipping and loading the cargo: The company that loads the truck’s cargo is responsible for doing it safely. It needs to balance the load, follow safety requirements, and ensure the truck does not exceed federal and state weight limits.
- The manufacturer of the 18-wheeler or its parts: Manufacturers may be responsible for your accident if brake failure, tire failure, or another problem with the truck or its parts caused your crash.
Seeking Compensation Under Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. Drivers must carry $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability, according toFlorida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). According toFlorida Statutes § 627.736, if you are injured in an accident, your own insurance pays for 80 percent of reasonable medical expenses and 60 percent of your lost wages, up to your insurance limits, regardless of who is at fault. You must seek initial treatment within 14 days of your accident.
You may want to hire an attorney if your insurance company attempts to refute your claims, denies the necessity of your treatment, or offers you an insufficient settlement. If you have severe injuries that exceed your PIP coverage, you may be able to recover a settlement with the help of an attorney. If you sue the driver, the trucking company, or another liable entity, you may win awards to pay for:
- Emergency medical care
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation services
- Household expenses
- Prosthetics or mobility aids
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
You may also seek compensation for your pain and suffering, and mental anguish. This may include financial awards for stress, anxiety, and permanent physical and mental impairment. If your family member died in an 18-wheeler accident, you might be able to sue for the costs of their medical care and your loss of consortium. Under Florida law, you have four years to take action for a personal injury lawsuit and two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of your loved one.
How a Lawyer Can Help You After a Clearwater Truck Accident
When you enlist our help, we handle the following:
- Gather evidence
- Identify all liable parties
- Build a robust case
- Determine a value for your case
- Communicate with insurers
- Negotiate for a fair settlement
- Prepare your case for trial
Steps to Take Following a Truck Collision
After an accident with a large truck, do the following to protect yourself and your right to compensation:
- Report the accident to the police and ask for medical assistance.
- Check on the other vehicles involved to see if everyone is okay.
- Exchange information with the other driver.
- Document the evidence through video or images.
- Do not post about your accident on social media.
- Speak to eyewitnesses and get their contact details.
- Do not admit fault or accept a settlement before running it by our team.
- Call your insurance carrier and report the accident.
- Hire a truck accident lawyer to defend your rights.
Common Reasons for 18-Wheeler Crashes
Semi-truck and 18-wheeler accidents have catastrophic outcomes for victims, especially those in smaller cars, considering the large size of these vehicles. Common causes of 18-wheeler crashes include:
As discussed above, long-distance truck drivers are compensated by the mile, not the hours worked. This often makes them stay on course longer, well beyond the federally-mandated 11 consecutive hours. Fatigue sets in and decreases their cognitive abilities when driving long stretches of road, thus affecting their reaction time and making accidents possible.
It’s prudent to conduct regular inspections to see if the truck is roadworthy. Neglecting these safety precautions means the driver could be traveling across the country with these problems:
- Underinflated tires
- Insufficient brake fluid
- Faulty coupling equipment
- Transmission failure
- Defective lights, windshield wipers, etc.
- Faulty brake lines
- Worn-out brake pads
- Failing anti-lock brakes
Driving Under the Influence
The legal limit for truck drivers is 0.04%, which is half the standard legal limit for a passenger car driver. Drivers who operate their rigs under the influence often have slower reflexes and impaired judgment.
Not Checking Blind Spots
Large trucks have many blind spots that make it hard to see passenger cars traveling behind or next to them. If a smaller car follows too closely behind, the big rig driver cannot see them. These scenarios make for a potential hazard on busy highways.
Vehicles have limitations as to how much cargo they can safely transport depending on the truck type, engine size, and other specifics. Loading companies may try to load more cargo to save costs, but this practice puts the driver and other road users in harm’s way.
Big trucks ferry tons of cargo, and this makes them heavy. Cargo loaders must follow certain regulations, as unbalanced loads can trigger rollover accidents when the driver loses control. The injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help you sue the loading company for not adhering to the safety protocols.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine Can Help You with Your Case
Fighting for the awards you deserve does not have to be complicated or stressful. Our team is familiar with vehicle accident laws. We can help you identify those responsible for your crash and assist you in seeking compensation. You worry about getting better. We take care of everything else.
A Clearwater 18-wheeler accident lawyer will go the extra mile to try to win awards for you and your family. If we are not successful, we do not collect any attorney fees. Call us risk-free to speak with a member of our team about how we can help.
We Can Help.