Crashes involving large commercial vehicles or big rigs raise many complex factual and legal issues that are not present in regular motor vehicle crashes. These crashes require significant investigation into the driver and the employer, and they are more likely to involve catastrophic or even fatal injuries. If you or a loved one is recovering from injuries in a crash of this kind, you can hire a Clearwater big rig accident lawyer for counsel.
Multistate trucking companies have many resources at their disposal, which can make pursuing a personal injury claim against them time-consuming and expensive. At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, we handle these cases without requiring you to pay money upfront for our services. We operate on a contingency basis, which means that you pay nothing until you receive compensation from the parties responsible for your accident. Call today to learn more about how to get started on the claims process.
Semi-Truck Crashes in Florida
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), medium or heavy trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or more were involved in more than 28,000 vehicle crashes in 2020. Injuries occurred in at least 500 of these crashes. The statewide accident rates for these heavy commercial vehicles are high, especially on the sprawling interstate highways that run through the state. As a result, traffic crashes with big rigs are common.
Accidents involving semi tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles can be devastating, particularly for the drivers and passengers of much smaller and lighter passenger vehicles. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, reports that commercial vehicles can weigh up to a maximum of 80,000 pounds.
On the other hand, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers “light-duty vehicles,” which include most passenger cars, to weigh less than 8,500 pounds, with the average passenger vehicle weighing in at 4,000 pounds. From these figures, large commercial vehicles clearly dwarf typical passenger vehicles, with some trucks being more than eight times heavier than passenger vehicles.
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Building a Case for Liability in Big Rig Crashes
In many cases, the driver of a big rig is a trucking company employee or otherwise employed by the truck’s owner. As a result, not only are truck drivers responsible if they drive in an unsafe manner that causes an accident, but the trucking company that employs them could also be liable. Proving this liability, however, is not always easy. Examining all types of potential evidence is key in pursuing a big rig accident case.
Most motor vehicle accidents involve investigatory tasks like:
- Documenting the accident scene
- Talking to witnesses
- Gathering medical evidence
In crashes involving large commercial vehicles, however, there is likely far more evidence to examine, depending on the circumstances of your case. Much of this evidence rests on what legal theory forms the basis for your case.
For instance, if a truck driver is speeding, disregards a traffic signal, or is intoxicated when he causes the accident that led to your injuries, you will want to learn more about the individual’s driving and criminal history. If a trucking company hired an individual with a recent DUI conviction or a history of traffic violations, the company might have been negligent in failing to properly screen the driver before hiring them. Therefore, looking at employment records, employment applications, the general hiring practices of the employer, and training records can be relevant to your claim or lawsuit.
Similarly, some trucking companies have a long history of failing to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. Since these errors could have contributed to the accident in some way, we may need to look into all aspects of FMCSA compliance, including logbooks the driver maintains, truck maintenance records, the company’s past violations, and more.
Due to these complexities that are unique to large commercial truck crashes, getting the assistance of a Clearwater big rig accident lawyer could greatly benefit you.
If you are ready to seek legal action in your big rig accident, call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine today to set up a free consultation with our legal team.
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Getting Compensation for Injuries in Big Rig Collisions
Injury victims in crashes involving big rigs may be eligible to claim many types of compensation or damages for their losses. Some of these damages are called economic damages, which are relatively easy to calculate, such as injury-related medical bills, surgical costs, and rehabilitation expenses.
Another common source of economic damages is lost wages due to an inability to work. Finally, property damage, such as damage to your vehicle, also qualifies as a possible source of economic damages.
Other forms of damages are noneconomic and are, therefore, not so easy to calculate. Determining the monetary value of these damages can depend on various factors, including the severity and permanency of your injuries, the extent and duration of the required medical treatment, and the impact of the injuries on your ability to work in the future.
Therefore, the amount of noneconomic damages for losses, such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and permanent disability, can vary widely, depending on each case’s circumstances.
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We Will Hold the Responsible Party Liable for Your Damages
When truck drivers operate massive trucks negligently or recklessly, they may be responsible for any injuries that result. Likewise, trucking companies and other third parties could also hold liability or financial responsibility for injuries, property damage, and other losses that may occur in an accident. Liable parties may include:
The Truck Driver
In most cases, the truck driver will hold some liability for the accident, even if other parties contributed to the crash.
The Trucking Company
The trucking company or carrier is often the first entity that authorities look at when investigating the cause of an accident. In such a case, an accident lawyer would be interested in reading the company’s safety precautions, which should be documented in their internal safety reports. A pattern of failure to maintain brakes denotes negligence. This act of negligence breaches the company’s duty of care to motorists.
The Truck Manufacturer
The company that manufactured the vehicle and its parts may be found at fault for the crash. Mechanical failure is usually to blame in such cases, and it can occur due to the following reasons:
- Worn or defective brakes
- Missing or defective lights
- Insufficient brake fluid
- Faulty brake lines
- Worn-out brake pads
- Failing anti-lock brakes
- Defective discs
Any vendor or supplier involved in the trucking company’s operations can be investigated for wrongdoing and brought to justice. Obtaining the evidence you need may be difficult. The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can get subpoenas to secure pertinent evidence to support your case.
The Cargo Owner
The person who owns the cargo could be responsible for the crash. Perhaps they didn’t adhere to proper loading practices, which affected the truck’s balance. They could also have deliberately overloaded the truck to save on transportation costs.
Whatever the case may be, your lawyer can unearth negligence or other unlawful acts and level charges against them.
The Local Government or Contractors
The local government repairs and maintains roads and highways, keeping them safe for motorists. It also installs road signs and places them strategically in plain sight for motorists and other road users to see. Local governments are also often responsible for highway design.
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How a Clearwater Big Rig Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You
A crash with a big rig may turn your world upside down. You may worry about how you will manage your injuries and whether you will regain total health. This emotional turmoil is exacerbated by the financial stress of paying mounting medical bills with little to no help.
Your legal counsel will apply years of experience to hold the carrier or other responsible entity accountable for causing you harm. We will:
- Identify liable parties
- Gather evidence
- Send spoliation letters to protect any evidence the trucking company might have
- Determine the value of your case
- Negotiate with insurers
- Communicate with the other party
- Prepare your case for trial
You Have a Limited Time to Act
State law imposes strict time limits and other restrictions on filing injury-related lawsuits resulting from truck accidents.
Florida’s statute of limitations in personal injury cases is four years, perFlorida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a). If you are thinking about pursuing legal action, you may want to hire a Clearwater big rig accident lawyer as soon as you can after an accident. Your lawyer will need time to build a case for you and file it on time so that it meets the deadline.
Steps to Take Following a Big Rig Accident
Getting into a collision with a big rig can be unnerving, and you may be disoriented from the impact. If you can, take the following measures right away:
- Report the accident to the police and request medical assistance.
- Speak to the other motorist(s) and get their contact information, insurance details, and other vital documents.
- Refrain from admitting fault, even when the other driver blames you; don’t accept money from the other driver.
- Speak to eyewitnesses to get their version of events. Get their contact information so your lawyer can interview them later.
- Document the scene and your injuries with your phone.
- Don’t share any information about your case on social media as this could hurt your claim.
- Note the road and weather conditions, road signs, and obstructions like construction equipment blocking the road.
- Request the police for a copy of the accident report and sign it; this is the only document you should be signing before hiring legal counsel.
- Contact your insurance agency and report the crash, but don’t accept fault or premature settlement offers.
- Don’t record a statement with the carrier’s insurance agency and do not sign any paperwork before we review it.
- Keep a log of all medical bills and related expenses, like hiring a nanny to watch the kids in your absence.
- Journal all your downtime from economic pursuits by noting all lost income, commissions, and other aftermaths, like missing out on a job promotion.
Get Help from Our Clearwater Injury Lawyers Today
We know how challenging the aftermath of an accident can be when you or a loved one has suffered significant injuries. You likely will not be thinking about legal or financial matters in the immediate aftermath of involvement in a major big rig crash. However, compensation can help make your recovery less stressful.
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, we can take some of this burden off your shoulders by handling your legal matters. We will work to pursue all available legal remedies on your behalf so that you can focus on your physical and mental recovery. Call us today to schedule a free case consultation with us.
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