Florida Truck Accident Attorney Whittel & Melton
A Florida truck accident lawyer can help you get the personal injury compensation you deserve.
Florida has one of the highest incidences of large truck accidents in the nation, ranking third behind California and Texas. 30% of deaths caused by truck accidents in the United States occur in these three states.
Being involved in a truck accident can change the entire course of a person’s life, whether due to a life-altering injury or the accident-related death of a loved one.
Anyone who has been involved in a truck accident should consider talking to a Florida truck accident lawyer to discuss their options and see if a trucking accident lawsuit is the best course of action.Florida Truck Accidents – The Facts
The latest report (2019) regarding large truck and bus accidents shows a total of 2,734 fatal crashes, with 3,087 people dying as a result. Another 60,818 people reported injuries. The number of vehicles damaged was 122,331.
Though not at its highest rate, the number of fatalities in truck-related accidents has started to climb steadily since 2014, as has the number of injuries.
In Florida, the number of large trucks and buses involved in accidents amounted to 7,801. The total number of injuries amounted to 3,763, while the number of deaths for that year was 254. That is nearly one death every working day of the year.
One of the deadliest crashes of that year involved a semi-truck traveling on I-75 that veered into a car, lost control, and then crossed the center divider. The truck struck another truck, as well as a van carrying church members from Louisiana. The truck driver, another trucker, and five children died in that crash.
While this is a heartbreaking tragedy, it is also extremely frustrating because the driver had a history of tickets for traffic violations that included:
- Driving an unsafe vehicle
- Not carrying proof of insurance
- Driving an overloaded vehicle
In 2020, multiple trucking accidents occurred involving Amazon delivery trucks, one of which struck another semi and a sedan. The truck hit the sedan with such force that the car was split in two.
Interstate 75 is known as one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the state. WTSP News reported that an accident shuts down a part of I-75 every nine days, many of which are deadly. They also reported that most people killed in trucking accidents are passengers in other vehicles.What Are the Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Florida?
One of the reasons why truck accidents are so damaging and deadly is simply the size and weight of the vehicles. An 18-wheeler weighs approximately 35,000 pounds when it is empty and up to 80,000 pounds when it is fully loaded. A 3,000-pound sedan does not have much of a chance.
What causes these accidents in the first place?Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
Trucking accidents are most often caused by one or more of the following:
- Distracted driving: Many drivers on the road face distractions – from rubbernecking when there is an accident to dealing with distracting passengers to texting or eating while driving. Taking focus off the road can have deadly consequences, especially when the distracted driver operates a 40-ton vehicle. Unfortunately, due to tight deadlines, many truck drivers try to multi-task behind the wheel.
- Impaired driving: Impairment can be caused by illness, fatigue, or the use of substances like drugs (including stimulants to stay awake and prescription pain medication) or alcohol. A 2018 study found that most truck drivers are impacted by fatigue, which increases the risk of human error. The report shows that the top identified impairment among long-haul drivers is fatigue or falling asleep.
- Reckless driving: Reckless driving and other traffic violations are other risk factors. Because of tight deadlines, some drivers think the only way to get to their destination is to speed, tailgate, run red lights, or fail to yield to other vehicles.
- Poor vehicle maintenance: Drivers are only supposed to take a vehicle out on the road if they have a full-functional rig. They are also required by law to perform a safety inspection of their vehicle before each drive. Many trucks have poor electrical systems, bald tires, inadequate breaks, and other components that can fail and lead to a dangerous accident.
- Overloaded trucks: Drivers are supposed to adhere to federal regulations regarding the amount of cargo they can carry. Unfortunately, some companies overload their trailers so they can cut down on trips and driving time. Overloading the vehicle creates an imbalance and can make it difficult for the driver to control the vehicle.
Other causes can include:
- Drivers that are unfamiliar with local roads (rural roads or freeways)
- Interrupted traffic flow (bottlenecks caused by construction, congestion, or another accident)
- Failing to check blind spots or mirrors
- Incorrectly assuming what other drivers are going to do
Immediately after an accident, a person’s top priorities are:
- Safely staying at the scene: If possible, they should get the car off the road. At the very least, they should put their hazard lights on. Someone should report the accident to the police, and everyone should wait at the scene until the police arrive and ask their questions.
- Seek medical attention: Even if a person does not experience excruciating pain, they should seek medical help. Some injuries (such as whiplash) do not result in pain until a day or two later. In the meantime, soft tissues are damaged and, if not immediately addressed, can result in long-term damage and pain.
During this time, people involved in the accident should also:
- Look for other vehicles involved in the accident
- Exchange contact and insurance information with others involved in the crash
- Exchange contact information with witnesses – both those involved and those not involved in the accident – as their statements will be pertinent for insurance and legal reasons
- Document as much as they can remember as soon as possible
After seeking medical treatment and before talking to an insurance adjuster, it is best to discuss the accident with a Florida municipal truck accident lawyer. Here are two reasons why.
1. Insurance Adjusters Try to Avoid Paying Compensation
An insurance company does not make money if they are constantly dolling it out. Therefore, they do all they can to avoid having to pay. They might refer the survivor or the person who caused the accident to the small print in the contract with very strict payout limitations. They might also try and use something an accident victim or their family says in conversation against them.
We always urge talking to a truck accident lawyer in Florida first. While those involved in an accident are required to cooperate with an insurance company, they are not required to provide a statement until after consulting with an attorney. Our legal team advises our clients on what they should say.
2. The Complexity of the Accident
Many parties can be at fault for a semi-truck accident. A Florida lawyer can find out who is truly at fault, so their clients have a better chance of winning their case or getting a settlement. Those potentially at fault include:
- The driver
- The trucking company
- Cargo loaders
- Another driver in a different vehicle
Whittel & Melton have all forms of auto accident experience from all across the state. Our award-winning legal team helps our clients by identifying qualified cases. To collect damages after a trucking accident, it must be determined that the accident was caused by the negligence or carelessness of another driver. A second requirement is that the crash resulted in serious injury or economic harm, either to you or one of your family members.
We can also help breakdown trucking accident laws. Each state has laws that determine:
- How insurance claims should be handled
- Damages available to victims
- When a lawsuit needs to be filed
For example, in Florida, a person has approximately four years to file a lawsuit is. In some cases, the statute of limitations can be extended, such as when the victim does not realize they have an injury related to the accident until well-after the accident. This does not automatically mean a person can ignore the statute of limitations, which is why it is best to discuss the case in depth with a Florida truck accident lawyer.
One of our attorneys will also discuss whether damage caps pertain to their client’s case. A damage cap limits the amount of money a victim can receive in certain cases. Often, such caps pertain to non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.FAQs: Common Questions about Truck Accidents, Attorneys, and Lawsuits in Florida
Here are some questions we often get from potential clients. If they have any other questions, we urge them to call us to discuss their case in depth.
1. How Soon After an Accident Should a Florida Truck Accident Lawyer be Consulted?
As soon as possible. It is best to talk to an attorney before discussing the accident with anyone else.
2. Should I Get a Lawyer if the Accident is Minor?
It depends on the circumstances and amount of damage or injury. The best thing a person can do is take advantage of our free consultation to see if they have a case.
3. What Percentage Do Lawyers Take?
The amount paid to a truck accident lawyer in Florida depends on the contingency fee agreement. This type of agreement says that clients will not pay up-front costs or an hourly fee. We do not get paid unless our clients win their case or settlement. When our clients are awarded compensation, we receive a percentage as our fee. During our consultation, we break down potential costs so each client knows up front what they are agreeing to.
4. Should I Sue the Trucking Company or the Driver?
It depends on who is at fault. In some cases, it is a single individual – the driver. In other cases, multiple factors contribute to the accident:
- A driver that does not perform a safety check
- A trucking company that overloads the vehicle
- A manufacturer that provides trucking companies with faulty equipment
A Florida truck accident attorney will investigate who is at fault and determine which entity to sue.Let Us Show You What Is Possible
We understand that this is a difficult time for you. Adding a lawsuit into the mix may seem unbearable.
However, we know that receiving compensation can help make life easier in the long run. Our goal is not just to create a successful outcome (winning your case or getting a maximum compensation settlement), but we also want to reduce some of the stress and burden you are experiencing.
Therefore, we urge you to contact us for a no-obligation consultation. Our caring, trustworthy, experienced legal team will show you what is possible.
Would you like to learn more about how we can help you? Contact us to schedule a free consultation.