Truck accidents may cause severe injuries to road users in personal and passenger cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. Approximately a third of all Florida truck accidents occur as a result of the actions of the truck driver. Unfortunately, it is the innocent road users who suffers the consequences of these fatal crashes. However, you don’t have to bear the pain, suffering, and medical costs alone. You can compel the party at fault to take responsibility by filing a lawsuit against them.
At Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, our work is to help you get the compensation you deserve if you or the person you love sustains a personal injury due to someone else’s fault. We have expert attorneys who understand the ins and outs of personal injury laws. We will walk you through the process of filing a compensation claim and even negotiate better compensation amounts on your behalf. If you are a truck accident victim in Jacksonville, Florida, reach out to us, and we will help you achieve the best possible outcome.
General Rules for Truck Drivers
It is a rule for drivers in Florida to obtain a commercial driver’s license and have, at the minimum, driving experience of two years before they can be allowed to operate large tractor-trailers. Proper training and ample experience are necessary for these drivers since large trucks are more massive than average passenger vehicles. Additionally, the stopping distance of large trucks is much longer because of their mass, larger blind spots, and their vulnerability to roll over.
Truck drivers are supposed to report any fundamental challenges they experience in truck driving that could lead to accidents. This rarely happens because in most cases, it’s usually the driver’s fault for the accident to happen. According to reports by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), factors related to drivers count for 31% of truck-related accidents.
Why Do Truck Accidents Occur?
Like any other accident, truck accidents occur due to several reasons. However, certain causes are specific to truck-related accidents than to other road mishaps. They include;
Fatigue- Often, circumstances may force truck drivers to operate the vehicle for extended hours, limiting their time to rest. When they are tired and drowsy, the alertness they need to control the truck reduces. This makes it easy for them to cause an accident.
Poorly-maintained trucks- Poor truck maintenance may result in brake failure, tire failure, and steering malfunction, which are contributing factors to accidents. Also, poorly adjusted side-view and rear mirrors provide a poor viewing, increasing the blind spot. Other truck accidents happen due to electronic failures.
Poorly-placed Cargo- A truck cargo has to be well-distributed and balanced. If it’s not evenly distributed, it may fall out on other road users. Alternatively, it may cause the truck to tip over.
Drunk driving- Drivers that drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are most likely to cause an accident. According to FMCSA, 44% of truck-related accidents are caused by drivers who are under the influence.
Distracted driving- Driving a truck involves experience, skill, and concentration. Common distractions include talking on the phone, operating a radio, and looking through the window.
Inexperienced drivers- Drivers with little experience may not know how to handle other drivers or to drive in poor road conditions.
Speeding- Speeding may result in deadly truck-related accidents, especially if the driver was in a freeway.
Inadequate stopping time- Generally, trucks take a longer time to stop since they are heavy and loaded with substantial goods. Sometimes, a driver can misjudge the amount of space needed for the truck to park properly, leading to a rear-end collision.
Blind spots of the driver- A truck driver may not see cars that are directly behind or in front of him or those in the center on both sides. In this case, he/ she may stop suddenly, accelerate or change lanes without knowing that he/she is about to hit a vehicle.
Unsafe changing of lanes- Changing lanes unsafely by truck drivers may result in them suddenly and unexpectedly colliding.
Traffic flow- Traffic congestion can also lead to truck accidents. Accidents often occur when traffic is diverted to a different lane. Also, when traffic is halted unexpectedly, vehicles and trucks get involved in rear-end collisions.
Other causes include the bad condition of the roads, bad weather conditions, use of over-the-counter or prescription drugs, and other vehicles.
Type of Truck-Related Accidents
Truck accidents can happen in different ways. The seriousness of the injuries and damage is often dependent on how the crash occurred. Common types of truck accidents are;
Runaway truck- This occurs when a truck operator loses his/ her ability to stop or slow down the truck. Since it is heavy, it may barrel down the road, especially if it was moving fast. The movement makes it hit any object in its way. This happens, in most cases, if a truck is moving down a slope. However, it can also occur on level ground.
Jackknife- When a truck loses balance, it can swing out coming together with its trailers at an angle. A jackknifing truck can hit any vehicle in the nearby lane resulting in extensive injuries and damage.
Override- In ordinary cases, a rear-end collision is just a minor vehicle accident. This is quite different when it comes to commercial trucks. When a large truck collides with a small vehicle at the rear end, the truck can drive into the back of the vehicle. In other cases, the truck may go past the backseat, injuring any passenger seated at the back.
Rollover- A large truck has a high center of gravity. Thus, it may tip over easily if it is driven too fast around curves or turns. Also, it can roll over when it is driven too fast during high winds. A truck rolling-over may crash into other vehicles or cause blockades on the road which may result in chain-reaction crashes.
Cargo spills- Some accidents don’t result from direct collisions. Instead, they are caused by cargo that falls off flatbed trucks or trailers and lands onto other vehicles, or on the road where vehicles could crash into them.
Underride- This happens when a small vehicle crashes into a truck’s rear-end due to the sudden stopping of the truck or improper changing of lanes. In these cases, the front part of a smaller vehicle could be wedged underneath the truck, often killing the passengers occupying the front seats. Even though trucks have guards that are supposed to prevent underride collisions, this type of accident still happens.
Injuries Caused by Truck Accidents
Surviving a truck-related accident may leave you with serious injuries, which may take you several months or even years to recover from them. Other injuries might never heal. The injuries you may sustain from this form of accident include;
Total or partial paralysis as a result of an injury of the spinal cord
Traumatic brain injury
Suffering one or a couple of these injuries may be devastating since they affect your normal life. Also, you may be incapable of going back to work and fail to fend for your family. Several victims of trucking accidents endure much pain. Additionally, they might also sustain severe emotional problems like chronic insomnia, severe depression, and PTSD. Several of the surviving victims find it impossible or difficult to travel in vehicles again.
Damages You can Recover From a Truck Accident
Victims of truck accidents often incur extensive losses because of the seriousness of their injuries. If the negligent, responsible party/parties are caught, our attorneys will help you to assess the value of your losses so that the party pays compensation. The following are the damages you are eligible for;
Medical expenses. These include hospital bills, prescription drugs, physician’s fee, doctor consultations, rehabilitative or physical therapies, and other medical expenses incurred in the treatment of accident-related injuries.
Pain & suffering
Disfigurement or permanent disability
Loss of the earning ability
Emotional and mental distress
Temporary disability compensation
Future medical expenses
If the victim succumbs to the injuries sustained in the accident, his or her family members can file a wrongful death claim where they may be entitled to damages like funeral costs, loss of companionship, medical bills until the time of death, burial expenses, etc.
In certain cases, you may receive punitive damages. This kind of damages is given when you provide evidence of the liable party’s malicious or willful negligence, or if the responsible party had the intention of harming you. In accidents involving trucks, punitive damages may be granted if the driver was operating the vehicle while intoxicated.
Determining who was at fault in a truck accident may be difficult. The fault could lie on the truck driver, the truck company, the loading company, or the truck maintenance company. If the company in charge of truck maintenance neglects its duties, it may have to take responsibility for the accident. Similarly, if the loading company overloaded or improperly loaded the truck, you can sue them for compensation.
In case you survive a truck accident, whether or not it was due to negligence, you need help dealing with the situation, including injuries, job loss, how to get your medical bills covered, pain and suffering, and the income loss you have suffered from the time the accident happened.
Since trucking accidents can be complicated, it is important to have a skilled personal injury attorney by your side immediately after the accident who may help you in several ways. He or she may be able to;
Gather the necessary evidence, including subpoenaing the truck’s black box if the truck has one. He /she may be able to subpoena the box before important details are destroyed. Tracking companies do not hand in the box easily. The box may contain the details your attorney requires to claim the compensation you deserve.
A truck’s black box records the average and maximum speed, hard stops, and how long the truck has operated. If the accident was as a result of a wrecked truck, or if the driver was driving recklessly, the evidence therein can build your case.
No important proof is destroyed or hidden. He/she can get a court order to prevent the truck company from taking the old truck to a place it can’t be inspected for evidence. An expert attorney would know how to recreate the accident as well as identify the important proof in substantiating your case.
Truck Accident Claims
In case you have been involved in a truck accident and sustained injuries, you have to hire a personal injury lawyer to help you file a legal claim for your compensation. Since your case may involve more than one liable party, your attorney will help you determine whom to file the claim against. He or she will be able to evaluate the case based on the facts.
There are certain truck companies that are located out of Florida, making the process to file a claim more difficult. Generally, seeking compensation for injuries and insurance filings can be more complicated in truck accidents than in small vehicle accidents. You should work together with your attorney who may be able to make your compensation claim succeed.
The process of filing a compensation claim with a commercial insurance company is not very much different from that of insurance companies of small vehicles. Together with your attorney, these are the steps to take towards getting compensated;
File a damages claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. For instance, the truck company’s or truck driver’s insurance provider.
File a damages claim with your insurance provider to initiate determinations for liability and to claim your no-fault benefits.
Prepare evidence related to the claim you are making. The proof may include witness statements, photographs, and the police report.
Ensure your claims information and medical records are in order because insurance adjusters would want to review them to determine whether or not your compensation can be paid without going to court.
In case it is not settled, your attorney will file a personal injury case in court.
Statute of Limitations
This refers to laws that regulate the period you have to file a personal injury claim. Every state has its statute of limitations which may differ from one state to another. In Florida, truck accident victims have up to four years to file claims to be compensated for their injuries. The period is counted from the date the accident happened. However, if the victim died due to the truck accident, the deceased’s family members have up to two years only from the time of the demise to claim damages by filing a wrongful death claim.
What To Do After a Truck Accident
Accidents often leave victims confused, not knowing what to do next. Note that any step you take after a truck accident may affect either positively or negatively the process of claiming compensation. The following is what you should do;
Check for any injuries
Assess yourself and the people involved for injuries. If any person was severely injured, call the law enforcement and request emergency medical help. If nobody was seriously injured, you still should call the police to come at the scene and create a report regarding the accident.
The police report normally contains important information related to the accident. For instance, where the accident took place, date, cause, and time. If there are any injuries or property damage, they are also included in the report.
Take photos of the scene
Taking pictures may help you to tell how the accident happened. Additionally, they may be used as evidence if the liable party or insurance provider denies your claim. Thus, take photos that indicate the vehicle positions, skid marks, traffic signs, property damage, and injuries.
Take note of the United States Department transportation number of the truck
Your personal injury attorney may need this number to access the truck’s black box. The black box might track data about the driver’s behavior, the highest and average speed of the vehicle, seatbelt use, and hours the truck spends on the road.
If the data indicates that the truck was violating service hours or speeding, it could help your lawyer prove liability and negligence. Also, take note of the truck driver’s name, commercial license number, contact information, and the name of the truck company.
Exchange contact and insurance information
It is important to exchange contact and insurance details with all the drivers involved in the accident since you may need the information when filing your compensation claim. Additionally, it may be helpful to note the contact details of the eyewitnesses. This is because your attorney may need their testimonies in proving liability and negligence in case your case proceeds to trial.
Seek medical attention
Accidents resulting from truck accidents are often dangerous. Victims may sustain severe injuries that are life-threatening. If it is you that has been in an accident, your priority should be caring for yourself and treating your injuries. If a first-aid expert advises that you must see a doctor immediately, you should comply.
After the doctor stabilizes your injuries, you can address other concerns of the accident. If the emergency treatment is not necessary, it is important that you still go for a full medical check-up since certain injuries may be internal and they take time to be noticed. The check-up is also important because it will help you to know what injuries you have sustained and document them for when you file your claim.
Don’t provide too much information to the insurance company of the truck driver
When an accident happens, the truck driver’s or the truck company’s insurance company will most likely contact you. Ensure you do not provide any details concerning your account of events that resulted in the accident.
Insurance companies may appear like they have your best interest at heart, and all they want is to help while in a real sense, they are not. They may use any information you give them against you and try to lower your compensation amount.
Keep a post-accident journal
This will help you in tracking the healing process. Additionally, you will be able to keep track of your medical appointments and expenses, including medical treatments, prescribed medication, and the injuries you sustained. A post-accident journal helps you to put all your thoughts on paper, so you don’t forget significant details.
Note that light mistakes like missing a doctor’s appointment, overlooking future damages, and making a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster may damage your compensation claim.
The Difference between a Truck Accident Claim and a Car Accident Claim
A truck accident claim is different from a compensation claim of car-related accidents in the following ways;
Truck accident victims may claim higher compensation because truck accidents are more severe compared to car accidents.
The limit of the insurance claim for truck accidents is higher since truck drivers are normally well-insured.
In truck accidents, there can be more than one liable party. The liable parties may include the driver, truck loading company, or the truck company.
The violation of trucking regulations may come into play while claiming compensation because the trucking industry has more laws regulating truck operations.
Is a Truck Accident Compensation Taxable?
Whether your compensation is taxable or not depends on what you’re being compensated for. Compensation is mainly not taxed, but there are few exceptions;
You will be taxed for the punitive damages you receive. However, note that most victims of truck accidents don’t get punitive damages.
The interest that’s evaluated on your damages is taxable.
Find a Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
At Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, we represent clients in Jacksonville, FL, for personal injury and insurance claims when they sustain truck-related injuries. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of Florida personal injury laws. Thus, we will fight to ensure the insurance company of the liable party takes responsibility for your injuries, and negotiate fair compensation on your behalf. If you or your loved one sustained truck-related injuries, please call us at 904-800-7557 for a free consultation today!