Tampa, FL Truck Accident Lawyers
"Tampa and the Tampa Bay Area has become a magnet for growth-and with that growth we have seen a sharp increase in accidents involving large commercial trucks and Semis. As one would imagine, the damage that an 18-wheeler can have on a pedestrian, motorcycle, car and even another truck is catastrophic." - Jason M. Melton, Award Winning Tampa Truck Accident Trial Lawyer
Truck cases are notoriously complex due to trucking regulations, layered insurance issues and the many potential at-fault parties involved.
Discussing a case with a truck accident lawyer in Tampa can streamline the process and take a lot of pressure off the victim and their family.Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg, and Tampa: Truck Accident Laws and Statistics
Tampa, FL is in Hillsborough County. The total population of Hillsborough County is 1.47 million, with nearly 400,000 living in Tampa.
The next county to the southeast of Hillsborough is Pinellas County, with a population of nearly 975,000. The largest city in Pinellas County, Florida is St. Petersburg, home to over 244,000 residents.
Tampa and St. Petersburg are hotspots for tourists due to the fun atmosphere, nearby beaches, and exciting attractions, such as:
- Ziplining above natural preserves
- The Dalí Museum (showcasing works by quirky artist Salvador Dalí)
- Tampa Busch Gardens
- Events at Amalie Arena
- Watching a Tampa Bay Rays’ baseball game or a Buccaneers’ football game
While these two counties are enjoyable to live in and visit, they can be dangerous places to drive due to the population numbers and high tourist count. And because of the great weather, tourists visit constantly, making every season – not just summertime – a dangerous time to drive. After all, the more drivers there are on the road, the more potential hazards present themselves.
Drivers not only have to share the road with other small vehicles, but they also have to share it with large commercial vehicles, like 30,000-to-80,000-pound semis. Traffic congestion and distracted driving can lead to catastrophic results, including injuries and fatal truck accidents.Hillsborough County (Tampa)
The 2019 statistics for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) accidents in Hillsborough County:
- Total crashes: 3,069
- Fatalities: 22
- Injuries: 940
The 2019 truck accident statistics for Pinellas County:
- Total crashes: 1,413
- Fatalities: 2
- Injuries: 365
How does this compare with previous years?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established in an effort to prevent vehicle collisions. To that end, they regulate and evaluate such things as:
- Regular drug and alcohol testing
- Commercial driver’s licensing
- Maintenance requirements
- Safety audits
- Hauling and loading requirements
Florida statutes state that any Office of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) Trooper has the authority to stop a commercial vehicle and require the driver to submit to an inspection, enforcing any state traffic laws if necessary.The Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Driving a commercial vehicle is a serious occupation. Not only does the driver have a job to do, but they also have to make sure they are safely operating a machine that weighs up to 40 tons.
Unfortunately, due to extremely tight deadlines, corners are sometimes cut. Here are just a few of them that can result in a truck accident.
There are three ways a driver can be impaired:
- Fatigue: Tiredness and falling asleep at the wheel are one of the leading causes of all vehicle accidents, including truck collisions. Truckers are at an especially high risk for this due to the long hours they work each week behind the wheel. Strict deadlines also make it hard for them to take the breaks they are legally required to take.
- Alcohol consumption: Fortunately, due to FMCSA’s strict regulations and regular testing, driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the least common causes of impaired driving accidents.
- Drug use: Drugs consumed are not limited to illicit substances. Many drivers operate their vehicle under the influence of stimulants to keep them awake, or prescription/over-the-counter medications to ease pain. Such psychoactive drugs impact the health and safety of drivers and increase the risk of accidents. A 2019 review found that nearly 28% of drivers consume some sort of psychoactive substance.
Common distractions among all drivers, including truckers, include:
- Eating and drinking while driving
- Listening/talking to passengers
- Using radio equipment
- Talking on a cellphone
- Texting while driving
- Changing the radio station
Taking their eyes off the road for even a second can lead to a life-threatening truck accident.
Before being allowed to drive commercial vehicles, drivers are required to do a safety check. Owners of the trucks are required by law to make sure their trucks are in top condition.
Because of the time (that could be used to make their deliveries) and cost involved, some drivers and owners do not take proper steps to maintain their vehicles.
Overloading the Truck
Trucks have weight limits. If these are exceeded, it can result in an imbalance, making the vehicle more difficult for the driver to control. Unfortunately, overloading is not uncommon as doing so can cut down on the number of deliveries needed and result in more money for the company.
Poor Driver Training
Before someone can drive a commercial vehicle on a public road, they must receive a certain amount of training. Not all drivers and trucking companies adhere to guidelines and regulations, resulting in poorly trained, inexperienced drivers behind the wheel.
The two most common traffic violations among truckers are overtaking and speeding. Again, the reason for this is the tight deadlines. If those are not met, the driver is at risk of losing their job. However, speeding can reduce reaction time, something drivers of big rigs need more of when operating such a large, heavy vehicle.
After a victim gets the medical attention they need, their first call should be to a Tampa or St. Petersburg, FL truck accident attorney.
We have our client’s best interests at heart and will guide them regarding what steps to take, who to talk to, and what to say. This is vital as some insurance companies try to twist what victims say to refuse payments or get them to sign an unfair settlement.
A legal team will also research and investigate the case in full, ensuring that victims get the settlement they are entitled to receive.Why Choose Whittel & Melton, LLC – Tampa Truck Accident Law Firm
When someone has been in a crash, their first priority should be healing physically, mentally, and emotionally.
During this difficult time, getting bogged down by legal jargon and the complexities of a truck accident case can take their toll on victims and their families.
Our caring team wants to help. We have decades of experience achieving successful results (maximum compensation) for our clients – and we do so with compassion and understanding.
Clients appreciate that we keep them informed every step of the way, that we work hard to resolve the case as quickly as possible, and that we are honest and trustworthy.
Steps Involved in Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit
A Tampa truck accident lawyer helps their clients with the following steps.
- Negotiating a settlement
- Filing the lawsuit
- Serving defendants with a summons and complaint
- Fight the case in court
- Appealing the case if necessary
- Collecting trial winnings on the client’s behalf
The following are just a few of the questions truck accident victims commonly ask us during their free consultation.
1. Should I Get a Lawyer After a Minor Truck Accident?
Absolutely. Even though the accident is minor, we cannot assume that the driver is at fault. We help our clients find out who is responsible, so they are more likely to receive some sort of compensation.
2. When Should I Contact a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
As soon as possible. It is best to talk to a truck accident attorney before talking to anyone else.
3. Can I Sue for Being Hit by a Semi-Truck?
Getting hit by a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle can leave victims with serious injuries, severe vehicle damage, and lost wages as a result of both. If it is determined that the driver, trucking company, or anyone else was negligent, victims can seek damages by suing one or all parties at fault.
4. How Do Accident Attorneys Work?
A truck accident attorney will investigate the accident and file a complaint outlining legal arguments in the victim’s favor, as well as what sort of compensation they are seeking.
We work on a contingency fee basis. We do not get paid unless our clients win the case. Before working with a client, we outline the percentage of our fees, so they are well aware of the potential cost before they sign on with us.
5. What is the Average Settlement for a Minor Truck Accident?
There is no average settlement for a truck accident. The amount a victim receives is dependent on the severity of the damage and injuries. Personal damages (pain and suffering) will also be considered.
6. How Much Do People Usually Get for a Truck Accident Settlement?
Some victims receive thousands of dollars, while others have received millions. The amount depends on multiple factors, including:
- Who was at fault
- The extend of the injuries/damages
- Medical expenses
- Financial losses (lost wages, loss of earning capacity)
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
7. How Should I Respond to a Low Settlement Offer?
Most insurance companies and defendants will start with a low settlement offer to avoid paying more than they have to.
However, the victim has to settle for an unfair amount. We can help them counter demand, drafting a formal letter that makes the case for the victim’s higher demand.
The letter will state that the amount offered is unacceptable, refute claims of adjustor inaccuracies, state an acceptable figure, and explain why the counteroffer is appropriate.
8. What Damages Can I Receive?
A truck accident lawyer will claim damages for any expenses related to the accident, including:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Wrongful death
- Funeral expenses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering, including depression and anxiety
9. What If I’m an Out-of-State Visitor and I Got Hurt in a Florida Truck Accident?
Filing a lawsuit or claim is similar whether both drivers are Floridians or not.
However, one difference is that Florida is a no-fault state, which means that a driver that has been injured must file a claim with their insurance for compensation regardless of who is at fault.
In addition to filing claims with the victim and at-fault driver’s insurance companies, we can also file a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim with a rental car company if the victim was using a rental for their trip.Personal Injury Lawsuits Can Be Complicated – Let Us Help
The last thing an accident victim or their family needs is extra stress. Unfortunately, the complexity of a truck accident case can add some strain, especially if someone is trying to do things on their own.
We urge victims or their families to contact a truck accident lawyer right after the accident. We can take care of the research, filing, and settlement negotiations for them, while they can focus on their physical, mental, and emotional healing.
Are you looking for a truck accident lawyer in Tampa?