Commercial trucks play an important part in Florida’s role as a key supplier of agricultural goods throughout the country. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) maps out multiple cargo shipping ports where shippers load up countless trucks with cargo to be distributed either within Florida or across state lines. Demanding delivery deadlines, fatigued truck drivers, and poorly maintained trucks can lead to truck accidents.
These crashes cause serious and oftentimes fatal injuries. Although victims have the right to pursue compensation in incidents wherein negligence played a part in the collisions, the complexity of the trucking industry makes the legal process difficult. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a Florida truck accident, we can provide legal help.
For a free legal consultation with a truck accidents lawyer serving Florida, call (800) 747-3733
We Fight to Get Fair Compensation for Truck Accident Victims
The legal team at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine takes pride in our long track record of success with truck accidents and other personal injury cases. Our firm is well-equipped to take on the massive corporate entities that stand in the way of your getting the compensation you deserve. We have a full team of investigators, as well as medical and legal support experts who help us construct solid cases built on firm evidence.
Our attorneys and staff dedicate themselves to handling our clients with extreme care and professionalism. We are available to clients every day, all day, and we go the extra mile for them. Our staff will help you schedule any appointments you require after your truck collision – we will even help you get your car repaired.
Finally, because we work on a contingency-fee structure, you pay us only when and if we win a settlement or court judgment on your behalf, and your initial consultation is entirely free of charge. You have nothing to lose by calling.
Florida Truck Accidents Lawyer Near Me (800) 747-3733
Your Case is Worth More Than You Think
Every truck accident is different – with different causes and different outcomes. However, the sheer mass of a commercial truck keeps one outcome relatively consistent: damages can be severe.
The force of impact of an 18-wheeler on a car passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian can cause multiple injuries, in fact, with the chance of victims having to receive lifelong treatment. Many such victims miss long periods of time at work, which translates to seriously reduced incomes. On top of their painful injuries, accident victims also endure the stress of providing for their families: paying rent/mortgage, buying food, and so on.
Types of Damages You Could Recover
When negligence causes the injuries that impart this type of damage on a person, they want to help with victims’ financial recovery. The amount of this recovery depends on the type and severity of the injuries. Examples of just some of the types of damages we could fight to recover for you include:
- Medical bills, past and future
- Emergency transportation
- Ongoing physical rehabilitation and therapy
- Lost income and benefits
- Diminished future potential earnings
- Replacement or repair of your vehicle
- Home modifications, like wheelchair ramps
- Replacement services, like lawn care and housekeeping
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional stress
If you lost a loved one due to injuries they sustained in a truck accident caused by someone else’s negligence, we could pursue a wrongful death action on your behalf.
Trucking Companies Will Try to Undervalue Your Case
It is in a trucking company insurance provider’s best interest to settle your case quickly while you are still reeling from the trauma of the incident. Do not be surprised if you receive a call from the insurer offering a settlement soon after the collision.
Make no mistake, whatever the insurance company offers you in terms of a settlement is drastically less than what your case is worth. Insurance carriers have access to sophisticated algorithms that can quickly tell them what you might get from a jury award should your case go to court.
Their job is to undercut that amount as much as possible. Their best hope of doing that is to take advantage of your mounting stress about all the expenses your injuries are costing you.
We Can Communicate with the Insurance Company on Your Behalf
If you talk to an insurance representative, say as little as possible because whatever you say will be used against you. Stick to the facts. Better yet, let our lawyers do the talking for you. We know how these representatives work, and we will not be intimidated by them. Last and most important, do not sign any document the insurance company asks you to sign without legal counsel.
Florida Insurance Requirements for Commercial Trucks
State and federal regulations require trucking companies to carry insurance policies with substantially larger coverage than what is required of passenger vehicle owners.
Insurance Coverage for Trucks That Haul Out of State
For interstate travel, commercial trucks must carry public liability insurance that covers bodily injury, property damage, and environmental restoration in the event of an accident. The minimum coverage amounts are as follows:
- Passengers: $5 million ($1.5 million for vehicles that seat 15 or fewer passengers)
- Freight: $300,000 for non-hazardous freight in trucks that weigh 10,000 pounds or less; otherwise, $750,000 – $5 million, depending on the cargo
Insurance Coverage for Trucks That Haul Within the State of Florida
According to Florida Statutes § 627.7415, commercial motor vehicles that transport cargo within the state must be insured with minimum levels of combined bodily liability insurance and property damage liability insurance. The minimum coverage amounts are per occurrence, based on the truck’s gross vehicle weight, as follows:
- $50,000: 26,000 pounds – 34,999 pounds
- $100,000: 35,000 pounds – 43,999 pounds
- $300,000: 44,000 pounds or more
Furthermore, according to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations 49 C.F.R., the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) enforces additional insurance coverage requirements. The minimum levels set forth in this code are based on the type of carriage and the commodity that is being transported, as follows:
- $750,000: 10,001 or more pounds; non-hazardous property
- $1,000,000 – $5,000,000: 10,001 or more pounds; oil or hazardous substances (value depends on the type of hazardous substance) or bulk quantities of explosives with mass explosion hazard, poisonous gas, high danger substances, and similar materials
- $5,000,000: less than 10,0001 or more pounds; any quantities of explosives with mass explosion hazard, poisonous gas, high danger substances, and similar materials
Do not mistake the figures above with the amount of damages a court can award in a truck accident personal injury lawsuit. Rather, these amounts merely reflect the minimum amount of coverage that trucking companies must maintain to transport cargo.
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Interstate vs Intrastate Commerce
The destination of a commercial truck’s cargo dictates the rules and regulations by which the trucking company must abide. Many Florida truck drivers haul their cargo from Florida shipping ports into Georgia or Alabama. When a truck crosses Florida state lines to deliver its cargo, the transport constitutes interstate commerce, which makes the truck beholden to United States Department of Transportation and Department of Commerce rules and regulations.
Trucks that stay within the state of Florida when delivering their cargo are engaged in intrastate commerce, which means that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) governs the truck’s operations.
The type of commerce a truck engages in also dictates how much insurance coverage they are required to carry.
Our Lawyers Know How to Handle Complex Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are notoriously complicated. With drivers, carriers, shippers, loaders, third parties, and sometimes government agencies and manufacturers acting as different moving parts in the accident’s occurrence, it can be a lot to untangle. It can also be extremely daunting for someone who is just trying to manage life after sustaining serious injuries.
Our legal team will handle every aspect of your case, leaving you to do the most important job of all—recovering.
It is not enough to show that a truck driver caused an accident. In order to collect damages, an injured person needs to be able to prove that the at-fault party’s actions constitute negligence—and that this negligence is the reason for the accident that caused the victim’s injuries.
Specifically, tort law requires that we prove each of the following in your case:
- Duty of care: Someone had a legal responsibility to take reasonable steps to keep you free from harm or injury.
- Breach of duty: This party failed to fulfill its duty of care.
- Causation: This violation of duty caused the truck collision.
- Damages: You sustained physical and emotional injuries and financial loss.
Gathering Records and Documentation From the Carrier
In the case of a truck accident, one area we will investigate is whether the carrier complied with regulations that limit the maximum number of hours per day that a truck driver can drive. Drivers must document all hours in their logbooks, and if they exceed the maximum hours and cause an accident, our attorneys will know about it.
The same holds true for maintenance records for the rig. If the truck driver’s handling of the rig caused the accident that caused your injury, it could be because the operator was not adequately trained, or perhaps the trucking company hired the driver despite a poor driving history or a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
Upon receiving a truck accident case, we immediately demand documentation for these and other areas of compliance from the trucking company. They will serve as important elements in establishing liability.
The Investigation Continues
Our legal team does not stop there. To investigate the cause and identify negligent parties in your truck accident, we will:
- Visit the scene of the collision
- Review footage from traffic cameras and nearby surveillance cameras
- Get the police accident report
- Interview witnesses
- Gather all your accident-related medical records
- Work with accident reconstruction specialists
Possible At-Fault Parties in a Truck Accident
Although truck collisions often stem from a truck driver’s behavior, several other parties could also be responsible for the accident. These crashes can cause serious injuries and generate massive, costly damages. To make the most of victims’ financial recovery, it is important to identify every liable party. Having multiple defendants in a truck accident lawsuit is not uncommon.
If a truck driver was driving while distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if they were speeding or otherwise operating the vehicle in a negligent manner, the driver’s negligence could make them liable for your accident injuries. Some driver behaviors could also result in criminal charges against the truck operator.
Even maintenance and cargo loading issues that contribute to a collision can point to the driver’s negligence if they failed to inspect the truck before operating it to check if it had been properly maintained and loaded.
Under the rule of vicarious liability, an employer is responsible for the negligent actions of its employees while they are acting within the scope of their employment. This rule applies to carriers and their truck drivers. This means that if a driver is texting and driving while on the job and they cause an accident, the carrier might be held vicariously liable for the truck driver’s actions.
Trucking operations can be quite complex. In cases where companies contract with carriers to ship cargo, the transported items cross through several “hands.” The company that originates the cargo, as well as the parties that ship, load, and transport the cargo, must comply with a slew of federal and state regulations.
If anyone along this chain is negligent in their roles, resulting in cargo that shifts or causes other problems that provoke a collision, such parties can be held liable for accident injuries.
Sometimes a truck component fails, causing the rig to malfunction and making it difficult for the truck driver to control the tractor or trailer. Anything from failing brakes, tires, or kingpins can lead to disaster. In some cases, these failures stem from a lack of adequate maintenance. However, in other situations, the problem can be traced to a part that came defective right from the manufacturer.
When truck crashes occur because a manufacturer designed, produced, sold, and/or distributed a defective part or system, the manufacturers and various distributors along the supply chain could bear responsibility.
Ensuring that public roads are properly maintained falls on the shoulders of various government agencies. For example, Florida county commissioners are responsible for keeping county roads “in good repair” (read more about Florida legislation regarding county roads on the Florida Senate website, Chapter 336). If a poorly maintained road facilitates a truck accident, it could be possible to hold the appropriate government agency accountable for damages from the accident.
Furthermore, if this agency hired a contractor to handle this maintenance, and they were negligent in their duties or created a problematic work zone that contributed to the truck collision, the contractor could also be held liable.
Statutes of Limitations and Other Timing Considerations for a Truck Accident
With so much to deal with after a crash, it can prove difficult to focus on the task of filing an insurance claim or lawsuit. Taking care of any injuries should take top priority, of course, but injured parties should know about some time-related constraints that might motivate them to act sooner rather than later.
Competing with Other Injured Parties for Your Share of Insurance Coverage
Just as multiple parties could be responsible for a truck collision in Florida, multiple parties also can sustain physical injuries and financial loss from such an accident. Remember that insurance companies apply their commercial truck insurance coverage per incident, not per victim. This should factor into time considerations when filing a claim or lawsuit after a collision with a commercial truck.
Accident victims must consider that other victims will likely take action to recover their damages. An early filing could give one victim’s lawsuit precedence over others that come in later. In a game of “first come, first served,” it literally pays to get an early start on filing and potentially receive a greater share of the money parsed out from the carrier’s insurance coverage.
Florida’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury
In Florida, people who have sustained injuries as the result of another party’s negligence have a definite window of time in which the state allows them to file a lawsuit to recover damages from the negligent party.
According to Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a), a truck accident victim generally has four years from the date of the collision in which to file a lawsuit. If a person was killed as the result of injuries from a truck accident, their loved ones typically have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
It is important to keep in mind that a lot has to happen in this timeframe.
What Happens Before We File a Lawsuit
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, we conduct thorough investigations of our clients’ accidents—uncovering evidence to support our claim of negligence and establish liability. It takes time to gather the evidence, interview witnesses, and work through the red tape that the carrier and their insurance provider will likely present.
Our lawyers tend to wait until our clients have reached their maximum possible recovery before we calculate damages. If a client has suffered multiple and/or serious injuries, this recovery time could take months or even years.
After we have crafted a demand letter for the defendant’s insurance company, we will attempt to negotiate a fair settlement. If these negotiations do not result in an offer that represents the damages you have sustained, we will file a lawsuit to have the matter decided in a civil court.
All of this needs to happen before the statute of limitations expires. The sooner you hire us to work on your case, the sooner we can get to work and handle everything that needs to happen before your time runs out.
Causes of Truck Accidents
While it is useful to understand the first harmful event that led to a crash, when it comes to seeking compensation for injuries resulting from a truck accident, you must also establish the root cause of the collision.
The Federal Motor Carrier Association (FMCSA) partners with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to study the causes of serious large truck crashes. According to their intensive research, the factors that ultimately cause a truck accident can occur moments before the collision, months before the crash, or any unit of time in between.
Furthermore, rarely does one single factor cause a truck collision. Rather, multiple factors come together to create the perfect storm for a crash, and this makes these collisions particularly complex and difficult to untangle.
Critical events are the risky variables that put a large truck on the path of an inevitable crash. The top three most common critical events in truck accidents are:
- Deviating out of the travel lane
- Loss of control of the truck
- Rear-ending another vehicle in the truck’s lane
Critical reasons define the immediate failure that preceded and led to the truck collision.
The groups classify critical reasons into three categories: driver behavior, vehicle, and environment.
If investigators code the causation for a truck accident as “driver,” it could be for:
- Non-performance: like falling asleep or having a heart attack
- Recognition: perhaps because the driver was distracted or not paying attention
- Decision: which includes misjudging how fast other vehicles are traveling, driving too fast for conditions, or following other vehicles too closely
- Performance: such as not controlling the direction of the truck, overcompensating, or panicking
The top factors that contribute to the above driver-based reasons for a truck collision include:
- Malfunctioning or defective brakes
- Driver under the influence of prescription drugs
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Problems with the road
- Forced stop prior to the collision
- Driver under the influence of over-the-counter drugs
- Inadequate surveillance
- Pressure from the carrier company
- Illegal maneuver
- Not paying attention
- External distraction
- Tire problems
- Shifting cargo
- Driver sickness
- Internal distraction
- Driving under the influence of illegal drugs
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
Types of Truck Accidents
The FMCSA publishes data it has gathered about collisions that involve large trucks. The state of Florida saw 8,604 vehicles involved in large truck crashes in 2020, according to FMCSA data.
According to the organization’s 2020 report, based on fatal crashes that occurred between 2016 and 2018, these are the first harmful events in those accidents:
- Collision with a vehicle in transport
- Collision with a fixed object
- Collision with pedestrian
- Collision with Pedalcycle or Other Personal Conveyance
- Collision with Parked Motor Vehicle
- Collision with Train
- Collision with Other Object
- Collision with Animal
- Pavement Surface Irregularity
- Cargo Equipment Loss or Shift
You had a Truck Accident – Call Our Florida Attorneys
The first thing you need to do after a truck collision is to take care of your physical health and well-being. Seek medical treatment immediately. Once you have sought medical attention, consider calling us. Legal representation may lift a tremendous weight off your shoulder at a time when you could really use some relief. We know you will want to stay apprised of your case, and we will give you frequent updates.
If you want to call us, no problem. When you hire our firm, you get your attorney’s phone number so you can call them any time you have a question. Make your first call today. Remember, the initial consultation is free, with no obligation. Call 1-800-747-3733.