As a committed truck crash attorney, I can help if you are filing a case against a trucking company. Truck drivers are often employees of a larger entity, and that can mean dealing with big insurance companies, complex legal teams, and companies that have gone through hundreds of accident claims before.
Most truck accident victims have never before been involved in a crash with a semi or tractor trailer. Trucking companies may have thousands of drivers in their fleet and have definitely been on the receiving end of a truck crash lawsuit before. It’s not your fault you probably lack the experience necessary to handle the claim on your own, which is why an Orlando truck accident lawyer can be of great help.
Five Important Differences Between a Truck Accident and a Car Accident
Any truck injury lawyer will tell you: truck crash injury claims can be very different from a typical car accident case. When comparing the two, you’ll notice these five important differences:
- There are often multiple parties that may be held liable for the accident.
In a car accident it’s normally you versus a negligent driver or pedestrian. In accidents with a commercial truck you may be dealing with a negligent truck driver, trucking company, vehicle manufacturer, and/or mechanic.
- Injuries from truck accidents may be more likely to be serious or fatal.
A typical passenger vehicle weighs about 3,000 pounds, where the typical truck can weigh anywhere from 10,000 to over 80,000 pounds when cargo is included. Trucks traveling at high rates of speed with heavy loads can be harder to maneuver and stop. The size discrepancy between a passenger car and a truck is one reason why injuries that result from these crashes can be so severe and may result in long-term suffering, disability or death.
- Truck accidents may be caused by operational/mechanical hazards such as blind spots or cargo shifts, rather than driver hazards.The size of a truck presents many operational hazards such as larger blind spots and more difficulty maneuvering or breaking. The hauling of cargo can also present a hazard if it is unbalanced, loose, or shifts during transport. These are hazards that normal vehicles do not face on such a serious scale.
- Trucking companies may dispatch their legal team immediately to the scene to handle the situation.
Most trucking companies are ready at a moment’s notice to handle a crash. By sending out their crash investigation team at the moment an accident occurs, they can gather the evidence before you even have a chance to consider talking to a truck accident lawyer. They may have a truck crash attorney of their own out at the scene shortly after the accident.
- Truck driver records are important pieces of evidence that may be easily falsified or destroyed before a claim is filed.
Unique to truck accidents are driver records and “black box” data, which record important information at the time of the crash. Some of these records, such as the driver’s time on duty, can easily be manipulated. Even worse, after a period of time, the truck company can legally destroy these records, removing them from the potential evidence in your case.
If you’re concerned about how to handle these differences remember that you have the right to work with a truck injury lawyer. Just as the trucking companies will have their legal teams, you should level the playing field with a truck accident lawyer of your own.
The Costs of a Serious Truck Accident
While truck accident claims may differ, the scope of compensation you should seek is much the same and is also largely dependent on the seriousness of the accident.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 32,885 fatal vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2010. Of these crashes, 3,484 involved large trucks. Florida accounted for 179 of these accidents. Serious or fatal injuries can initially result in medical expenses and lost wages, but the long-term damages should also be addressed by your settlement.
The insurance companies and trucking company will not be eager to pay you the full price for the damage you have suffered. If they cannot avoid a settlement completely, they often try to undercut the value of your case as much as possible. Don’t be swayed by an initial settlement offer, even if it does cover all of your current expenses. One of the main mistakes truck injury lawyers see clients make is settling quickly for a low amount just to get help with their current bills.
Think about your current damages – it’s fairly easy to look at your medical bills and the lost income you’ve suffered due to being injured. What you may not realize at this time is that recovery from serious injuries can take several more months, years, or even result in permanent medical complications. This means future medical costs and more bills that may not be covered in an initial settlement offer.
As any truck crash attorney should, I will look for these situations and evaluate your future financial needs. If you are expected to be out of work for a long period or permanently, your settlement needs to account for this loss of income. There is also the possibility of non-economic damages, which is designed to help you and your family recover from the emotional impact a devastating truck accident can have. Insurance companies typically won’t account for these details in making a claim offer, but I will.
Truck Accident Lawyer FAQs
Time is of the essence in a truck accident claim. The Florida statute of limitations gives you four years following the truck accident to bring about legal action. Aside from that, truck companies may be able to destroy important evidence if enough time has passed, sometimes within a few weeks!
You should contact a truck crash attorney as soon as possible following your truck accident to begin working on your case. I will begin gathering information, police reports, medical reports, and other necessary documentation. My firm will pursue all necessary measures to obtain compensation commensurate with the injuries you have sustained. It is the highest priority of your truck accident lawyer to work vigorously in seeking justice on your behalf, and that’s a responsibility I take very seriously. The only thing holding you back from getting compensation could be question. So At Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney we have collected some of our more frequent client questions and listed them below to help you get started on your path to recovery.
Do I Have to File a Police Report After an Orlando Truck Accident?Florida has strict laws that apply to drivers when they are involved in a traffic collision. You must report accidents and share information at the scene of a crash. Below are the specific requirements per Florida statutes:
- Florida law requires any “driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any persons or damage to any vehicle or other property in an apparent amount of at least $500 shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the crash to the local police department.” If the accident didn’t occur within a city, drivers can file a report with a county sheriff or Florida Highway Patrol.
- If you are involved in a truck accident that results in only property damage, you must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until you exchange information, including name, address, license plates, and insurance information. Failing to do so can result in a second-degree misdemeanor.
- If a traffic crash results in injury, death, or property damage, all drivers involved must provide their names, addresses, and vehicle registration numbers to each other. They must also provide their drivers’ licenses or permits to law enforcement, if asked.
- Those involved in a traffic accident in Florida must also offer reasonable assistance to anyone who has been injured, including taking them to the hospital if necessary. Calling 911 also satisfies this requirement.
- If someone is too injured to receive the information to which they are entitled, and law enforcement isn’t present, a driver can report the crash to the nearest police station, county sheriff, or Florida Highway Patrol station.
- Under Florida law, those who are physically unable to report an accident can rely on an occupant to make a report. Additionally, if you were driving a car that you do not own, and you were not able to report a truck accident, the owner of the vehicle can make a report on your behalf within 10 days.
How Do I Get a Copy of the Police Report for a Truck Accident?The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) maintains online records of traffic crash reports filed by law enforcement. You will have to wait a few days until your report is put into the system. Once it’s available, you can request a report for $10, plus a $2 convenience fee. After you pay, FLHSMV will send you a link that allows you to download your report within 48 hours. If you need to obtain a copy of your crash report in-person, you can do so at your nearest Florida Highway Patrol troop station, but you must fill out a Sworn Statement to Obtain Crash Report and submit it with payment.
Do I Have to File an Insurance Claim If I Didn’t Cause the Accident?Florida is a no-fault insurance state that requires motorists to carry property damage liability (PDL) and personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policies to register a vehicle. Regardless of fault, you will need to file an insurance claim under your PDL and/or PIP coverage after a truck accident. In the event you are driving your parents’ vehicle, you should file a claim under their policy. Before you can take any legal action against a truck driver or trucking company for causing a truck accident, Florida law requires you to first exhaust your policy limits. Truck accidents typically result in large amounts of property damage and severe injuries, so it won’t take much for you to meet your limits if you only carry the minimum $10,000 of coverage. Once those limits are met, the owner/operator’s or trucking company’s insurance policy will potentially kick in to cover additional losses. However, this policy will not cover non-economic losses, and the insurance company will go out of its way to devalue your claim and avoid some or all financial liability.
My Injuries Are Not Catastrophic; Do I Have to Seek Medical Treatment?You should always get checked out by a doctor after getting into any traffic accident, especially a truck accident. Some injuries don’t show symptoms for hours, days, or even weeks. Delayed discovery is especially common with whiplash and brain injuries. Internal injuries and organ damage might not show immediate symptoms either and can be fatal when not treated. If you were involved in a severe truck accident, it’s likely emergency response teams showed up at the scene of the accident. If you weren’t conscious, you likely were transported via ambulance to the nearest emergency room. If, however, you were lucky enough to walk away from your vehicle after a truck accident and you chose to decline medical treatment at the scene of the accident, you need to let a physician examine you for common motor vehicle accident injuries. The doctor will give you any necessary restrictions or clear you for normal activity. Although your health should be your top priority, the medical record of your injuries also serves as important documentation for your lawyer to use in a personal injury lawsuit as proof for insurance companies. It makes it difficult for insurance companies and the defense to deny the cause of your injuries or claim you had preexisting injuries.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Suit After an Orlando Truck Accident?Florida law requires victims injured in traffic accidents, including truck accidents, to bring a lawsuit against allegedly liable parties within four years from the date of injury. If you have lost a loved one as a result of a truck accident, you have two years to file a wrongful death suit against allegedly liable parties. Florida courts strictly adhere to these time limits, called statutes of limitations, and courts are unlikely to hear your case if you try to file a suit after the statute of limitations runs out. On rare occasions, the court might grant an exception, but it’s highly unlikely. Your attorney can advise you if your situation warrants an extension.
Do I Have to Appear in Court After a Truck Accident?Most personal injury claims, including those involving big trucks, settle long before parties need to go in front of a judge. Your Orlando truck accident attorney will negotiate with the insurance company who represents the driver, trucking company, and/or third party to reach an agreement that compensates you fairly for your injuries and losses related to the accident. In some cases, the defense outright denies responsibility or attempts to devalue your claim, making settlement impossible. In these situations, your attorney will have to litigate your case in court to fight for the court to rule in your favor. If your case goes to litigation, you will likely have to appear in court.
Who Might Be Financially Liable for My Losses After a Truck Accident?Multiple parties can face full or partial liability for damages when a truck accident happens on Florida roads. Most semi-truck accidents are complex cases because several parties can face liability. If you file a lawsuit, your attorney might name one or more of the following parties as defendants in your suit:
- Truck driver. Negligent and careless truck drivers who drink and drive, use drugs and drive, text and drive, speed, or break other traffic laws risk financial liability when their actions lead to accident and injury.
- Truck owner/company. Whether an owner/operator or a trucking company, a truck’s owner can be financially responsible for damages in several scenarios. Owners might fail to hire qualified drivers, poorly train their drivers, fail to do proper truck maintenance, or encourage drivers to violate trucking industry regulations to get the job done.
- Another motorist. Other motorists who cut off large trucks, break traffic laws, and ride in a truck’s blind spots can cause truckers to lose control of their trucks, which can lead to a deadly accident.
- Truck manufacturer or truck part manufacturer. If a defective truck or truck part leads to accident and injury, truck manufacturers and truck part manufacturers can be held liable for losses incurred as a result of accident and injury. Braking systems and tires are especially dangerous when they fail on large trucks, often causing loss of control.
Should I Accept an Early Settlement Offer?Trucks are expensive and so are trucking accidents, which is why truck owners carry large insurance policies to protect their investments. Yet, even with massive amounts of coverage, it doesn’t mean insurance companies want to pay out large claims or court-awarded damages. When an insurance company has investigated a truck accident and knows its policyholder caused the accident, the company sometimes tries to avoid paying large claims by making an early settlement offer soon after the accident. These early offers are intended to encourage injured victims, especially those struggling from increased medical expenses and lost income, to accept the offer and waive their right to sue for damages. Although an early settlement offer might be tempting, it rarely comes close to full and fair compensation after sustaining injuries in a severe truck accident. You should never accept an early settlement offer without consulting a personal injury lawyer. In most instances, a lawyer can negotiate a higher settlement.
What Compensation Can I Get After a Truck Accident?If you file a personal injury lawsuit against liable parties, and you reach a settlement or the court rules in your favor, you might receive compensation for the following economic and non-economic losses related to your accident and injuries:
- Medical treatment costs over and above those covered by your Florida PIP insurance, including ambulance and emergency services, hospitalization, diagnostic imaging, surgery, follow-up care, and prescriptions
- Future medical expenses, such as corrective surgeries, physical therapy, specialist treatment, long-term healthcare, and assistive devices
- Lost wages not covered by your PIP policy
- Future lost wages when a severe truck accident leads to a permanent condition or disability that prevents an injured individual from returning to work
- Home modification expenses to make a dwelling more accessible, such as the addition of wheelchair ramps or handrails
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium with a spouse
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Other non-economic losses related to your specific circumstances
- Punitive damages in cases of intentional harm or gross negligence
Can I Afford an Orlando Truck Accident Attorney?We understand the financial struggle that can come in the aftermath of a truck accident, so we handle truck accident claims on contingency. This means you don’t pay upfront if you choose us to represent you in your truck accident case. We deduct our attorney fees from any compensation that you receive from a settlement or court ruling in your favor. Contact our Orlando personal injury lawyers at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney today to discuss your case.
Hire An Experienced Orlando Truck Accident Attorney
Contact my firm right now at 407-422-4529 if you have been injured due to negligence in an Orlando Truck Accident. I will be your advocate for justice when the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company has caused your family irreparable harm.
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“Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney law firm has been great with handling my case from the start. Case manager Bianca, Vivianna, and Luisa helped me along the way with any questions I had along the way. They showed me that they care a lot about each individual client and that I made a great choice choosing their law firm. Thanks a lot.” -Kevin