If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, an experienced Hollywood Truck Accident Lawyer can help you seek compensation from the negligent party.
Truck accidents are some of the most frightening forms of accidents you could experience. Since trucks are much larger and heavier than normal passenger cars, their accidents often result in more devastating injuries and fatalities compared to car accidents, yet they happen just as often.
At Klotzman Law Firm, our truck accident lawyers have the resources and experience required to handle the specifics of your truck accident injuries. In most cases, a trucking company owns the truck that was involved in the accident and is responsible for both the driver and the truck. The company will move fast to protect its interests following the accident.
Our personal injury team has extensive experience in truck accident cases, and we understand the nuanced strategies that the trucking companies and their insurers will use to minimize their liability. Contact Klotzman Law Firm today at 954-915-7405 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Hollywood personal injury lawyer.
Florida Truck Accident Statistics
Truck accidents are quite common in Florida. In the last 5 years, there have been 37,978 commercial vehicle accidents every year. This is based on data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Here is a breakdown of the truck accident statistics for Florida from 2020:
There were a total of 341,399 crashes, of which 3,098 were fatal, and 3,332 people lost their lives. Out of the total, heavy and medium trucks weighing over 10,000 lbs. caused:
- 111 incapacitating injuries
- 29 fatalities
- 789 possible injuries
- 389 non-incapacitating injuries
- 29 fatalities
- 27,044 people suffered no injuries
Light trucks that weigh less than 10,000lbs caused:
- 633 possible injuries
- 43 incapacitating injuries
- 4 fatalities
- 232 non-incapacitating injuries
- 5,734 people with no injuries
Most of these accidents occurred on major roads, with few on rural or minor roadways.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
What you do following a truck accident can have a lasting impact on your health as well as your legal outcomes. To help you avoid overlooking important steps, the following is a checklist of things to do after being involved in a truck accident.
Having the police present at the scene of the accident will make a huge difference. They will help settle down the scene, and they will collect the accounts of the different parties involved. The police also have access to equipment that lets them evaluate the nature of the accident and the party at fault.
While you wait for the police to arrive, attend to anyone who is injured in the crash. This is a common-sense and humanitarian step that will not necessarily help your case. Also, never leave the scene of the accident before you’re cleared by the authorities.
Make an effort to collect the names of the people at the scene, including the truck driver and possible witnesses. If you don’t have a pen and paper with you, consider using your cell phone or ask to use someone else’s. Ensure you get the names, addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information. Don’t forget to also collect the truck driver’s employer details.
Document the Scene
Take pictures and videos of the scene of the accident while it’s still fresh. This will provide insurance adjusters with a much better picture of what happened. Ensure that you capture the position of the vehicles, road conditions, any skid marks, nearby road signs, the injuries sustained, damage to the vehicle, and any other relevant details.
Seek Medical Attention
This is perhaps the most important step after such an accident. Even if you only suffered a small bruise, you should get checked by a medical professional immediately after the accident. What might appear to be a small bump on the head may end up leading to serious brain damage down the road, so it’s wise to get checked before the injuries get worse.
Contact a Hollywood Truck Accident Lawyer
This is a critical step, as it will influence the outcome of your claim. At Klotzman Law Firm, our Hollywood truck accident lawyers offer free consultations to truck accident victims in Hollywood, FL. We charge no upfront fees unless we obtain compensation on your behalf. Call us as soon as possible after the accident for a free case review.
What are the Laws Regarding Truck Accident Liability?
When a negligent driver causes an accident, they should ideally be held responsible for the injuries and property damage suffered in the crash. A legal principle called vicarious liability could be used when a commercial truck driver is negligent.
The doctrine states that the employer, which in this case is the trucking company, is responsible for the actions of an employee when they’re performing work duties. As such, the trucking company or related contractors can be held liable for the injuries caused by truck drivers in truck accidents.
While this could mean a higher potential payout, the trucking company and its insurer will do everything in their power to minimize the settlement amount. As such, your truck accident lawyer will be fighting with a more prominent defendant, and handling complications few people are familiar with.
An experienced Hollywood truck accident lawyer can assess your case during your first consultation and establish the best legal paths to explore with your case so that you receive the maximum compensation available for your case.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
If you or a loved one suffered severe injuries in a truck accident, you ideally want to work with an advocate that can protect your rights, serve your best interests, and fight for fair compensation. Keep in mind that the trucking company already has a team of lawyers working for them, and you too should have a team of experienced lawyers in your corner.
The following are some of the ways a truck accident lawyer can help:
Your lawyer will assess the documentation and paperwork, including medical records, police reports, statements, and any other available evidence. If there are witnesses in your case, your lawyer will interview them. They will also be aware of the different places they can look for evidence to build a strong case on your behalf.
Filing the Claim
When it comes to filing a truck accident claim, you need to file a lot of paperwork accurately and on time. If you don’t file the claim correctly and in time, it may compromise your chances of recovering the compensation you need and deserve. Working with a truck accident lawyer will ensure that the claim and all the necessary paperwork are filed in time.
Our truck accident lawyers are experts at negotiating with insurance companies to obtain a suitable settlement on your behalf. They will start by building a compelling case to prove why you deserve the full compensation amount.
In case the insurance company or the defendant is unwilling to reach a fair settlement, our team will not hesitate to take your case to court. Our personal injury lawyers have decades of experience litigating truck accident cases and have secured lots of legal victories for our clients.
It’s also worth noting that when you choose to work with us, you don’t have to worry about paying legal fees upfront. At Klotzman Law Firm, our team works on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we’ll only charge you once we win a settlement on your behalf. We are dedicated to helping you make a full recovery so that you can get back on your feet.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive?
If you have been involved in a truck accident in Florida that resulted in injuries and property damage, you may be eligible for compensation. Here are the main types of compensation you could receive.
These are the tangible losses that you can calculate to a provable amount. They include medical expenses, property damage, lost earnings, lost capacity to earn, and loss of items. They are easy to calculate because your truck accident lawyer could obtain documentation such as medical records and car damage reports that show the current and future loss estimates.
These are the intangible losses that you suffered in the crash that are usually non-monetary in nature. Non-economic damages are much harder to calculate and prove, and will often make up the greater percentage of the compensation amount. They include pain and suffering, emotional distress, anxiety and depression, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement and scarring, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages might be awarded in some instances, such as when the court or jury finds the defendant’s conduct was too extreme or reckless, thereby warranting additional punishment. While rarely awarded, punitive damages are meant to deter the defendant and the members of the public from engaging in such conduct in the future.
How Much Will My Truck Accident Claim Be Worth?
The amount your case is worth largely depends on the specific circumstances surrounding your case. You could check statistics on insurance payouts and settlements for Florida truck accident cases, but these are generally not available as people usually like to keep exact figures private. And even if they were available, they may not help you calculate how much your case is worth, since every case is different and no two injuries are the same.
Still, your lawyer could help you figure out a rough estimate based on key factors of your case. This includes:
- Your age
- Your occupation
- Your physical restrictions
- Whether you’re the breadwinner of your household
- The nature and extent of your injuries and the recommended treatment
- Your mental wellbeing
- Whether you have a temporary or permanent disability
- Your number of dependents
Our team can help you calculate an accurate estimate of your claim’s worth and work to ensure that you receive ample compensation that should cover all of your damages.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Claim?
You need to file your truck accident claim within a given timeframe under Florida law. This is known as the statute of limitations. For personal injury cases, such as semi-truck accident claims, the injured victims are given four years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Failure to meet this deadline means the case will likely be dismissed.
There are some exceptions to this statute, such as when the injured victim was a minor at the time of the accident. Similarly, if an individual is incapacitated before the accident, they are given seven years from the date of the accident to file a claim.
How is Fault in a Truck Accident Determined?
The federal and state governments place additional laws and regulations on truck drivers and trucking companies to help reduce the number of truck accidents on our roadways. If a truck driver is found to have caused an accident from their behavior, they can be held liable for the resulting damages.
However, for the truck driver to be held liable, the victim must prove the four elements of negligence as discussed below:
- Duty of care: The truck driver owed the injured victim a duty of care. Truck drivers have to take reasonable precautions to avoid collisions with other drivers. This means obeying all the trucking regulations, not driving while intoxicated, and pulling over when fatigued.
- Breach of duty of care: The defendant failed to meet their duty of care. This could be by breaking traffic rules, driving for more than the allowed hours, and any other behavior that puts everyone else on the road at risk of injury.
- Causation: The breach of duty of care directly resulted in the accident. You can do this by proving that the negligent actions of the truck driver or the trucking company were the direct cause of the accident, and therefore your injuries.
- Damages: You must also prove that the accident resulted in damage and/or injuries that are compensable under Florida law.
Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that the victim can sue for damages from the at-fault party no matter how much fault they had in the accident. The court will determine what percentage of fault each party has in the accident and reduce the compensation amount by this amount.
For example, if the court awards the plaintiff $100,000 in compensation and the judge rules that you were 15% at fault, you will only be entitled to receive $85,000 from the compensation award.
Can a Lawyer Prove the Truck Driver was Negligent?
Yes. Your Hollywood truck accident lawyer will use the available evidence to prove that the truck driver was negligent in their actions. An experienced lawyer is aware of effective strategies to acquire evidence. This includes witness statements, police reports, alcohol and drug tests, as well as surveillance footage.
An truck accident lawyer can also leverage experts from different fields, such as accident reconstructionists to help support the evidence. For instance, if the truck driver was driving while drowsy, a truck accident lawyer will be able to obtain the driving logs and find out if any FMCSA laws were broken. They could also subpoena to see if the trucker was on the phone or texting while driving.
Moreover, your lawyer will investigate other intricate details such as:
- Whether the truck driver and his/her employer followed the state and federal trucking regulations.
- Whether the truck had been maintained properly prior to the accident.
- Whether the driver’s credentials are valid.
- Whether there were any faulty parts or manufacturing defects that might have caused the crash.
- Whether the driver adhered to the local traffic laws.
- Whether an accident scene reconstruction matches the existing evidence.
Who Can be Held Liable?
Unlike average car accident claims, where it’s only one driver that is to blame, truck accidents are usually complex in that they involve several entities. Any one of these entities might have contributed to the accident. Some examples of potentially liable parties in truck accident claims include:
Truck drivers can cause accidents by making poor decisions while behind the wheel. They might have been driving while intoxicated, drowsy, or distracted, or perhaps they failed to adhere to traffic laws, speed limits, or traffic lights. However, compared to passenger cars, truck drivers rarely have 100% responsibility for the crash.
Trucking companies will often share liability for the accident as the truck driver who caused the accident works for them. The law usually holds employers liable for the actions of their employees. However, if the driver is an independent contractor, not an employee of a given company, then determining liability will be a bit more complicated.
Truck owners may also share liability for the crash, especially if it was caused by a failure to maintain the truck in a safe working order. For instance, they might have failed to repair or replace the truck’s brake lines as required.
Company Who Loaded the Truck
The cargo company responsible for loading cargo on the truck can potentially be held liable in case they break laws such as overloading the truck or failing to secure the cargo properly, which ended up causing the accident.
Vehicle or Parts Manufacturers
If the truck manufacturer installed a faulty or defective part that contributed to the crash, they can be held liable for the crash. Examples of these include faulty brakes, mechanical failures, or blown tires.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
When a truck driver is overworked or exhausted, he/she can easily cause an accident on the road. In such a case, the trucking company might be held liable for the accident, as they caused the enabling conditions that contributed to the accident, such as not giving their drivers enough breaks, giving them unrealistic schedules, or failing to screen the drivers adequately.
A truck driver that was on the phone, texting, scrolling social media, watching a video, or using the in-vehicle is about 4 to 23 times more likely to end up causing an accident. Any activity that causes the driver to take their eyes off the road may significantly increase their risk of a devastating accident.
If a truck driver exceeds the speed limit, they are more likely to lose control of the truck, roll it over, or be unable to stop it in time to avoid colliding with other vehicles. Reckless driving accidents not only include those collisions where the driver speeds past the limit, but also where the driver fails to slow down in areas where there are hazards such as ongoing construction, bad weather, etc.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration categorically prohibits truckers from having alcohol in their trucks unless it’s commercial cargo in transit. Most of the obedient and reputable trucking companies routinely inspect the driver’s cab to ensure the driver does not have alcohol or any other prohibited substances in their truck.
It’s worth noting that truckers can be legally punished for sleeping in their cabs while under the influence. But some drivers still take this risk.
Improperly Secured or Oversized Freight
If a truck’s cargo is improperly loaded or the person responsible for it fails to balance the load, it could increase the truck’s risk of causing an accident. Rollover accidents can easily happen when an improperly loaded freight shifts while in transit.
Inexperienced or Poorly Trained Drivers
There’s a shortage of professional truck drivers in the country, and this has caused some truck companies to employ drivers who don’t have sufficient experience to operate large trucks safely.
Brake failure, faulty powertrains, coupling systems, wheels, tires, lighting, and other components of large trucks could fail and cause the truck to crash.
Lack of Timely Maintenance
Trucks have to be maintained according to the guidelines provided by the FMCSA. Many parts could fail in a truck due to a lack of proper maintenance, such as the air brakes.
Poor road conditions
Truck drivers should be aware of the risks that poor weather and bad road conditions bring, and therefore adjust their speeds accordingly or stay off the road when it’s too dangerous to drive safely.
Talk to a Hollywood Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one is recuperating from serious injuries following a truck accident, reach out to us today. We will thoroughly investigate the accident, injuries, and damages, and work to fight for the compensation you need and deserve.
Call Klotzman Law Firm at 954-915-7405 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Hollywood truck accident lawyer. We have been helping people just like you all around Florida for decades, and we take pride in helping people seek justice.