When a massive commercial truck collides with a smaller vehicle on the busy highways of Florida, the consequences can be catastrophic. These accidents often result in devastating injuries, property damage, and even fatalities.
While dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident can be overwhelming, knowing your rights and how to secure compensation is crucial. If you are the victim of a truck accident in Florida, our attorneys at Fetterman Law can help. We understand truck-related laws and can help you seek the full compensation you deserve.
Understanding the Gravity of Truck Accidents in Florida
Truck accidents in Florida cast a shadow of devastation, leaving victims and their families grappling with the profound physical, emotional, and financial consequences. Learn more about the gravity of truck accidents in Florida here.
The Alarming Statistics
With its extensive network of highways and interstates, Florida witnesses many truck accidents each year. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), in 2020, there were over 35,000 crashes involving commercial vehicles in the state, resulting in over 3,000 injuries and 260 fatalities. These statistics highlight the severity of the issue and the urgent need for effective legal representation.
The Applicable Laws
To navigate the complex terrain of truck accident litigation, it’s crucial to understand the relevant laws in Florida. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes strict regulations on commercial trucking companies and their drivers to ensure road safety. These regulations cover the following:
Driver Hours of Service (HOS)
These regulations are designed to prevent driver fatigue, a significant contributor to truck accidents. Commercial drivers must strictly limit their driving hours and mandatory rest breaks. For instance, the “11-hour rule” stipulates that a driver cannot operate a commercial motor vehicle for more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Additionally, weekly and bi-weekly limits ensure drivers receive sufficient rest.
Properly maintained vehicles are crucial to road safety. FMCSA regulations mandate regular inspections, maintenance records, and adherence to specific safety standards for commercial vehicles. Trucking companies must keep meticulous records of vehicle inspections, repairs, and maintenance schedules to ensure their fleets are in top condition.
Improperly secured cargo can pose serious hazards on the road. The FMCSA enforces rules that dictate how cargo must be loaded and secured on trucks. These regulations include weight limits, cargo tie-down requirements, and guidelines for the safe transportation of hazardous materials. Ensuring that cargo is adequately secured prevents accidents caused by shifting loads or cargo falling onto the roadway.
Florida state laws also come into play, with specific statutes and rules that govern truck accidents. For instance, Florida Statute 316.302 outlines requirements for the operation of commercial motor vehicles, including insurance and licensing. Moreover, Florida adheres to a “no-fault” insurance system, meaning injured parties typically seek compensation from their insurance providers first.
The Role of a Truck Accident Lawyer in Florida
Navigating the legal complexities surrounding truck accidents can be daunting, especially when pitted against large trucking companies and their insurance providers. This is where a skilled Florida personal injury attorney, like those at Fetterman Law, becomes an invaluable asset.
Here are some tips on how a truck accident lawyer can help you secure compensation:
Investigation and Evidence Gathering
A seasoned attorney will promptly initiate an investigation into the accident. They will collect evidence, including accident reports and witness statements, and, if necessary, consult accident reconstruction experts. This comprehensive approach ensures that no critical detail is overlooked.
Proving liability in a truck accident case can be challenging. An experienced truck accident lawyer will scrutinize all aspects of the accident to establish fault. This includes examining driver logs, maintenance records, and company policies to identify any violations of regulations.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Trucking companies typically have aggressive insurance providers that aim to minimize payouts. Your lawyer will handle all communications with these companies, ensuring you don’t inadvertently say or do anything that could jeopardize your claim.
The aftermath of a truck accident can be financially devastating. Your attorney will help you assess the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. They will use this information to build a strong case for fair compensation.
Negotiation and Litigation
Many truck accident cases are resolved through negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company. However, your attorney will be prepared to take your case to court if a fair settlement cannot be reached. Their expertise in trial proceedings can be a formidable advantage in securing compensation.
Tips for Individuals Involved in Truck Accidents
While hiring a qualified truck accident lawyer in Florida is essential, there are steps you can take immediately following a truck accident to protect your rights and strengthen your case:
Seek Medical Attention
Your health should be your top priority. Even if you believe your injuries are minor, seeking medical attention promptly is crucial. Delayed injuries are common in accidents, and medical records can be crucial evidence.
Document the Scene
Document the accident scene with photos and videos. Capture vehicle damage, skid marks, road conditions, and traffic signals or signs.
Collect Contact Information
Obtain contact information from all parties involved, including the truck driver, witnesses, and law enforcement officers at the scene. Witness statements can be valuable in establishing liability.
Limit Communication with Insurance Companies
Be cautious when speaking with insurance adjusters. Only provide recorded statements after consulting your attorney. Insurance companies may use your statements against you to minimize your claim.
Keep all evidence of the accident, including medical bills, repair estimates, and correspondence with insurance companies. This documentation will be crucial when seeking compensation.
The Importance of Acting Swiftly
Florida has a statute of limitations that imposes a deadline for filing a lawsuit after a truck accident. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Florida is generally four years from the accident date. However, in cases involving wrongful death, it’s just two years. You must meet these deadlines to avoid the forfeiture of your right to seek compensation.
Our Truck Accident Lawyers in Florida Can Help with Your Personal Injury Claim
Truck accidents in Florida can be life-altering, but victims don’t have to face the aftermath alone. Individuals can secure the compensation they deserve with the help of our trusted truck accident lawyers in Florida.
Understanding the laws, acting swiftly, and following these tips can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Remember, you have the right to protect your interests and hold trucking companies accountable for their negligence.
If you need help filing a personal injury lawsuit, contact our office at (561) 693-3872 to schedule a free initial consultation.