Truck accidents are not like other automobile accidents. Trucking collisions result in more significant damage and injuries than car crushes, partly due to their weight. This weight disparity between commercial vehicles, big rigs, or semi-truck and an average car can cause catastrophe on the road.
For instance, 67% of truck accidents in 2019 included a fatality. Yet, truck accidents have alarmingly risen 30% over the last ten years. It only takes a single reckless truck driver to cause a life-changing catastrophe.
But after an accident, it's common to feel overwhelmed with more questions than answers. You may be trying to recover from your injuries, dealing with the pressure of high medical debt, and getting the insurance company to cover the expenses.
Unfortunately, many involved parties will try to avoid taking responsibility and prevent you from getting much-needed help and compensation.
This is why contacting a truck accident attorney is vital for clear answers. Commercial truck accidents involve quite different sets of issues than other accidents.
The truck accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Ryan T. Hughes are well-versed in the complexities of truck accidents. Our lawyers can put their expertise and specific experience to work for you.
Why the Law Offices of Ryan T. Hughes?
Because the injuries and damages sustained in a truck accident can be extremely severe, these claims tend to have higher settlement amounts than the average car accident claims.
Truck companies and their insurers understand that the stakes are high. And it's not uncommon that they will fight aggressively to avoid as much liability as possible during a truck accident claim.
As a result, seeking a settlement after a truck crash can often be frustrating and confusing. Our knowledgeable lawyers can handle the hard work so that you can focus on recovery.
The nationally-recognized truck accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Ryan T. Hughes have extensive experience representing injured individuals at the settlement level and in the courtroom.
For years, our law firm has worked tirelessly to deliver maximum compensation for our Tampa clients throughout Florida.
When you work with our law firm for your truck accident case, you can count on our efforts to push for a fair and full settlement amount and provide aggressive representation in court if your case goes to trial.
Plus, we have the necessary resources to pursue your trucking accident case. We have an established track record of fighting for our clients. Contact us online or call us at (727) 266-0022 and let our experienced lawyers handle the heavy lifting on your behalf.
Florida Trucking Laws That Affect Truck Drivers
Both trucking companies and truckers are expected to follow stringent regulations. And trucking cases are generally complex, depending on state and federal laws that sometimes conflict.
These laws come not only from the federal government but also from the state. For example, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes the number of hours truck drivers can be behind the wheel without taking a break.
All commercial vehicle operators weighing at least 10,000 pounds must follow the rules. Every state also has its trucking regulations governing drivers' actions which define how a large truck must be driven and maintained, and Florida is no exception.
Florida Statute 316.302 governs all drivers and owners of commercial vehicles on public roads.
Regulating How Long a Commercial Truck Driver’s Shift Can Last
- A commercial truck driver can only drive for 70 hours in the previous week or 80 during the last eight days. Before starting another shift, the driver must rest for at least 34 hours.
- After ten consecutive hours off work, a truck driver can drive at least 12 but not exceed 16 hours.
- If the Department of Transportation initiates an inquiry, all truck drivers must keep a record book.
- Drivers must only keep a log book if their air-mile radius is at most 150. They are also exempted if they carry hazardous materials. But they must document driving time if they work more than 12 hours.
Specifications for Commercial Truck Sizes
- A truck-tractor trailer cannot be higher than 65 feet in length, while any other truck must not exceed 75 feet.
- An automobile carrier must not be higher than 14 feet in height.
- A commercial truck's overhang cannot exceed 3 feet.
- The commercial truck must be at most 102 inches in width.
- A commercial vehicle's gross weight limit is 80,000 pounds, 34,000 pounds for a tandem-axle car, and 20,000 pounds for a single-axle vehicle.
Regulating Secure Employment of Truck Drivers
- A truck driver can only secure employment for interstate commercial truck driving if 18 years and above. They must be 21 years old to get interstate travel.
- Employers are only permitted to recruit truck drivers with a firm English language grasp. They must make coherent reports, interpret road signs, and communicate effectively with officials.
- Commercial truck drivers must have valid CDL licenses and safe driving history.
- A truck driver must have a clear vision to operate safely. They must have at least 20/40 vision in each eye and at least 70 degrees of field vision from the horizontal meridian.
- Unfortunately, trucking companies and drivers routinely violate these regulations. There are several instances where truck drivers stay behind the wheel much longer than the law permits.
- They may then be too exhausted to operate safely. In most cases, this results in devastating accidents. When laws are violated, it can provide the proof you need to fight and win your case.
How Common Are Truck Accidents in Florida?
More than 15 million commercial and private trucks are registered in the USA. You will encounter hundreds of trucks while driving on any road in the country.
Trucks are critical to the nation's economy as they are vital in transporting all types of goods. But while trucks have to share the same roads with millions of other vehicles and cars, inevitably, a Florida trucking accident is not uncommon.
Each year, Florida consistently contributes to several truck accident fatalities in the US. Compared to truck accidents in other states, such as California or Texas, the semi-truck accident rate in Florida exceeds the national average.
In the United States, an individual dies in a collision every 16 minutes with a large truck. Nearly 140,000 people are severely injured in accidents involving semi-tractor-trailer rigs causing 700 deaths. In 2017 alone, there were about 32,000 accidents that involved truck drivers, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) report.
Out of the number, there were 57 incapacitating injuries, 27 fatalities, and 1,053 people with other injuries.
When accidents involve ample and semi-trucks, the injuries are often more severe than in car accidents, and the property damage resulting from the accident is typically also more significant.
And the most affected individuals in truck accidents are passenger vehicle occupants due to the size difference. Trucks are 20 to 30 times bigger than smaller cars, are more powerfully built, and have undercarriage clearance, meaning smaller vehicles can be trapped underneath.
What Are the Types of Truck Accidents in Florida?
There are several types of truck crashes everywhere on Florida roads that can lead to severe injuries and damages to those involved. The type of truck accident is based on how and where it happened.
While circumstances surrounding each truck crash are unique, the following are some common types of truck accidents in Florida:
An underride truck accident is sometimes classified as a rear-end collision. These occur when a truck and a smaller vehicle collide, and the car goes under the truck.
Depending on the size, the car is often lodged underneath the truck and rides underneath until the car halts. The truck's chassis crushes the vehicle, breaking its windshield and causing crush injuries.
When the truck driver loses control due to speeding, malfunctioning, or overloading, causing the truck to roll over on one side. The car loses contact with the road, most likely colliding with other vehicles.
When a truck driver loses control and slams on the break, the truck may skid while the trailer continues to swing out, which causes the car to fold, turn or spin out of control.
This may make the truck jackknife and ram into other vehicles across multiple lanes, spill out the cargo, overturn, or catch fire.
This truck accident occurs when a truck rolls over a smaller vehicle, motorcyclist, or pedestrian.
When a truck driver veers into oncoming traffic, they may collide with another driver resulting in fatal injuries.
In 2018, 31% of passenger vehicle occupants who died in two-vehicle crashes with a truck were struck head-on by the car, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Lost Load Accidents
If a truck's cargo is improperly loaded and secured, then the load can fall off or out and become a hazard to nearby vehicles or directly collide with moving motorists next to the truck.
What Causes Most Truck Accidents in Tampa, Florida?
The reasons why truck accidents occur in Tampa vary. However, reckless driving is considered one of the most common causes. It only takes a single reckless choice on the driver's part to cause a fatal crash and result in a lawsuit.
For others, bad weather or road conditions are to blame. Knowing the leading causes of truck accidents can help you, and your loved ones take care to avoid the situations whenever possible.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) analyzed several truck crash factors narrowing these down to ten prevalent causes.
Below is a list of the ten common factors that cause truck accidents:
- Brake failure
- Traffic flow interruption (previous crash, congestion)
- Hours of service violations (fatigued driving)
- Prescription drug use
- Driving too quickly for the weather or road conditions
- Limited experience with the road
- Road problems
- Driving under the influence
- Distracted driving
Major truck owners may use speed limiters or trackers on company vehicles, but not all trucks have the technology. Since trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, speeding is even riskier for truck drivers.
Trucks react more slowly to a quick direction or speed changes because it needs to first build momentum, and drivers have little control. Speeding is negligent and reckless, and truck drivers who speed are often held accountable.
Distracted driving is an unlawful, dangerous, and irresponsible conduct that happens when a truck driver's attention is taken away from the road, primarily due to the size of the vehicle.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving killed 3,142 people in 2020.
Suppose a truck driver is distracted while behind the wheel; it can cause devastating consequences for other drivers on the road. Because of the truck's size, avoiding a crash will be much more challenging after their attention drifts away.
Driving while distracted can lead to the driver and the truck losing control and multiple vehicles at a high risk of crashing with a car spinning down the road.
Distracted driving is caused by various factors, including:
- Conversing with a passenger
- Talking on phone
- Using the radio
- Being active on Social media
- Drinking and eating
- Checking the GPS
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires commercially licensed drivers to have a .04% blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). This is half the BAC standard for other drivers, which is.08% in all states.
Truck drivers cannot take alcohol within four hours of operating a commercial vehicle. They cannot consume alcohol while on duty.
Drunk driving or driving under the influence is illegal regardless of the circumstances and can result in extreme consequences for other people on the road with the drunk driver.
If drivers are intoxicated, they suffer from significant cognitive issues that make operating a motor vehicle safely impossible. They may have blurry vision, unable to perceive every obstacle on the road, or forget where they are headed.
Any knowledge of how to operate a truck can cause a dangerous crash. Learn more about how much is the average settlement for Drunk Driving.
Hours of Service Violation (Driver Fatigue)
The most prevalent reckless act is when a commercial truck driver is driving while fatigued. Driver fatigue causes several senseless and unfortunate accidents each year.
There are laws, also known as Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which help keep tired drivers off duty and help them remain alert while driving. These laws govern:
- How much time a truck driver is allowed to be behind the wheel for a single stretch
- The amount of time to be taken off between shifts
- How many hours can a driver log in a specific week
More regulations exist to help protect all drivers, but sometimes these rules are violated because of company culture, scheduling practices, or individual motivations.
It is common for a truck driver to falsify driving logs to get more time to move than the law allows. Sadly, several trucking outfits also create unrealistic scheduling pressure on their drivers, often resulting in sleep deprivation.
Other causes of truck driver fatigue may include:
- Long distances of night driving
- Unhealthy meals on the go
- Irregular schedules without a good routine
- Unloading and loading cargo in between trips
According to the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), fatigued driving plays a role in more than 30% of truck accidents. If you believe that driver fatigue may have caused your truck accident, our law firm can help.
Get in touch with our truck accident lawyers today to get answers to your questions or learn more about your legal options.
Negligent Maintenance and Hiring
In trucking cases, our lawyers often work to determine whether the trucking company used faulty equipment or was negligent about maintaining the truck itself. Other factors we consider include the following:
- The tire was defective, unevenly worn, or retread
- Brakes, hitches, axles, and other parts were working and routinely checked
- The driver was involved in any previous auto accidents
- Maintenance logs are updated and follow both federal and state statutes
Regarding retention and negligent hiring claims, we examine the truck driver's employment history and determine whether they were adequately trained and experienced to operate a commercial vehicle or semi-truck.
There are state and federal laws concerning the due diligence that a company must follow to examine the driver's criminal record and safety history. Failing to apply these safety provisions can cause trucking outfits massive liabilities.
Where Do Most Truck Accidents in Florida Occur?
While accidents can occur anywhere, statistics show that there are more common locations for crashes than others. Truck crashes commonly happen in high-traffic areas such as highways.
It might be challenging for a driver to make complicated evasive turns or maneuvers with such a heavy vehicle, especially when moving fast.
The same NHTSA report also revealed that 275 fatal significant truck accidents occurred on interstates, 78% on weekdays, and 58% in rural areas in 2017 alone.
Interstates can lead to truck accidents because several vehicles enter and exit at high speeds into the increased traffic. A distracted driver, for example, can miss a car entering the highway and may not be able to stop in time to allow the vehicle to enter or move to its lane.
Inattention or recklessness in dense areas such as the highway can cause a truck crash. Judging by statistics, drivers must always be the most alert on interstates and remain focused on the task.
Common Tampa Truck Injuries You Can Seek Compensation For
Because of their immense weight and size, truck crashes tend to result in severe injuries.
Individuals lucky enough to survive after an accident often struggle with life-altering damage that can permanently disfigure or disable.
Some of the most prevalent truck accident injuries are as follows:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken or fractured bones
- Neck injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Torso/chest trauma
- Soft tissue damage
A trucking accident injury can take months or years to heal, and some victims never fully recover. It takes a financial, physical, and emotional toll on most victims. And this is one of the reasons Florida truck accident victims get compensated for pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
You would have the right to legal representation if you were hurt in a vehicle accident. A truck accident lawyer from the Law Office of Ryan T. Hughes can help you seek maximum compensation. Contact us immediately for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal options.
What to Do Following a Trucking Accident in Florida
Ensuring that you maximize your possible settlement following a truck accident in Tampa means taking every possible step to protect your legal rights. The first thing to do is call 911 and immediately get law enforcement on the scene.
Other things you should include:
Seek Medical Attention
Your priority following a truck accident is your health. Be sure to seek medical assistance and get examined for injuries immediately.
Promptly documenting your truck injuries will help your lawyers prove that they were caused by the crash and were not pre-existing or caused by something else.
Also, check if anyone involved in the accident needs medical care and do what you can within reason to ensure everyone is okay.
Beware Not to Admit Fault
Following a truck crash, you can feel compelled to admit partial fault by saying you didn't see the victim or simply apologizing.
This can negatively affect your chances of getting compensation. Posting statements that can be used against you on social media can also affect your claim.
Gather Vital Information and Records for Your Case
A part of proving the responsible party's liability is showing that they were negligent, which caused the injuries you are claiming compensation for.
Vital information can help connect the party's negligence with your truck accident injuries. Such records include accident scene photos, witnesses, medical records, traffic accident reports, and police reports.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Florida is a no-fault state. You can first pursue compensation for your injuries and lost wages from your insurance company regardless of who was at fault. Suppose your damages exhaust policy limits or exceed a certain threshold.
In that case, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent parties to recover expenses or losses not covered by your policy, such as pain and suffering.
An experienced attorney can help determine your legal options, so consider speaking to one before talking to your insurer.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer
At the Law Offices of Ryan T. Hughes, we strongly advise contacting a truck accident lawyer immediately. A truck accident lawyer can simplify the claim process while you recover from any injuries.
File a Truck Accident Claim
You may be entitled to truck accident compensation, and you can file a claim if you can prove the at-fault party was negligent while driving.
Your lawyer can help you assign liability and file the claim with the liable party's insurance company.
What Is My Tampa Truck Accident Case Worth?
There isn't an average settlement amount for truck accidents in Florida or any other state. This is because of all the different particulars relative to each trucking accident case.
The facts of the accident case and the specific circumstances surrounding each truck accident are different, making it impossible to identify an average amount for settlement.
Your settlement amount will be agreed upon after all the individual factors in your cases, such as liability, negligence, and other third parties, are summed up.
However, a reasonable truck accident settlement should enable you to recover compensation for losses incurred or expected due to your injuries.
It is crucial to hire a skilled and experienced lawyer near you who understands the landscape and has a proven track record of delivering maximum settlement amounts for their truck accident clients.
Call the Law Offices of Ryan T. Hughes. We hold that record.
Who Could Be Liable for My Semi-Truck Accident in Tampa?
Big rig or truck accidents often cause life-damaging injuries. Identifying every party potentially liable is crucial, so you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries and damages.
But deciphering who to hold responsible is often a complicated challenge. The parties involved, including insurance companies, try to rebound blame back and forth to sidetrack the issues and avoid taking responsibility.
In addition, a maze of federal and state laws is available to protect the trucking industry from possible litigation.
Our Tampa personal injury lawyers have years of combined legal experience and are prepared to aggressively fight any legal maneuver presented to get your total and fair compensation.
You can pursue compensation for your truck crash damages from multiple parties. And we can hold all parties responsible, including:
- The truck driver
- Cargo shippers
- The truck driver's employer
- The truck company
- Third-party contractors
- The trucking manufacturer
- The insurance companies have policies for each of the liable parties
What Compensation Is Available to Truck Accident Victims in Florida?
Multiple types of monetary compensation are available for truck accident victims in Florida. Generally, settlements are categorized into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic Truck Accident Damages
Economic truck accident damages are those you can easily calculate to a particular amount. These include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income and earning capacity
- Property damage
- Funeral or burial costs
- Lost wages and business income
Non-economic damages are not easy to quantify. They define more personal losses such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
Truck Accident Settlement Payouts
Several factors affect the calculation of truck accident settlement payouts. The insurance companies and the court decide the amount after determining the following elements:
- The severity of the injury
- The medical treatment duration
- The duration takes for the victim to recover
- Whether Will there be a permanent change
In some cases, the Florida court grants punitive damages when there is proof of gross negligence on the driver's part.
The court uses punitive damages to punish at-fault parties for their severe and reprehensible actions and to prevent other road users from making the same mistakes.
Because each truck accident case is different, only a skilled truck accident attorney will discuss with you how the factors above, among others, maximize the value of your claim.
What if I'm Blamed for a Truck Accident in Florida?
Even if you are found partly or mostly at fault for a truck accident in Florida, you could still be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost earnings, and more.
According to Florida's pure comparative fault statute, you could still be eligible to recover financial damages when both parties share liability for the accident. However, your compensation might be reduced based on the percentage of the crash determining your fault.
Furthermore, Florida is regarded as a no-fault state. This implies that if you are in a truck accident, you can submit a claim under your injury insurance to cover your medical expenses and other damages, regardless of who is at fault.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Truck Accident in Florida?
One of the most common reasons individuals injured in truck accidents do not get compensation for their damages is Florida's statute of limitations law.
From the truck accident date, injured parties only have four years to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party, according to Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a).
If you miss the deadline, you will likely miss the opportunity to take legal action for your truck accident. Instead:
- The court may bar your claim preventing you from filing a lawsuit
- The liable party may contest your claim and request the court to dismiss your case.
In either case, you will likely not recover compensation for your damages, regardless of how compelling your case is.
However, if you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida, which is the loss of a loved one following a truck accident, the statute of limitations can be reduced to just two years from the date of death.
Time is lowered because you are technically filing a different claim governed by a separate statute — Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(d).
How Our Florida Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
Due to the web of regulations and the intricacies of insurance company methods, truck accident claims in Florida can be some of the most challenging.
At the Law Offices of Ryan T. Hughes, we relish the challenge and are prepared and fully committed to fighting for the best compensation possible for our clients.
Our skilled lawyers are renowned for delivering high-value truck accident settlements, even for the most demanding cases. And we have recovered extremely significant compensation for the wrongfully injured and lost damages.
Contact the Florida Truck Accident Attorneys at the Law Offices of Ryan T. Hughes Today for a Free Consultation
At the Law Offices of Ryan T. Hughes, we have the skills and resources to help our clients receive their deserved compensation in their truck accident cases.
Our widely recognized legal team will offer a premium presentation to help you battle against the liable parties. So, contact us online or at (727) 266-0022 today to discuss your legal options.