Were you seriously injured in a Pensacola motor vehicle collision involving a commercial truck? Large commercial trucks can leave a victim with catastrophic injuries due to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles.
It’s understandable that you might have a fear of being hit by one of these trucks while on the road. Fortunately, many of the Florida trucks you see daily are being operated by competent drivers. However, if a collision does occur, it can have life-altering consequences. Truck accidents can also be a legal nightmare because there are multiple parties that need to be involved. The truck itself is usually owned by someone else, or another company, and the driver was likely working when the collision occurred.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries due to the negligence of a large commercial truck driver, it’s important to speak with a truck accident lawyer in Pensacola. Do not attempt to pursue a claim on your own.
At Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon, our team of skilled personal injury attorneys has years of experience pursuing compensation on behalf of victims who were seriously injured in a commercial truck accident. We know how to track down all the possible responsible parties and ensure everyone is brought into the claim. In most cases, there are multiple insurance companies involved and the liability investigation can be lengthy.
Truck accident cases are typically more complex than car accident cases. A truck, as it’s referred to here, is a large vehicle regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA regulates vehicles with “a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 4,537 kg (10,001 lb.) or more, whichever is greater” when such vehicles are used for interstate commerce. Trucks that fall within this definition include:
Vehicles of this size pose a particular safety risk and thus need specific regulations. The FMCSA has specific regulations involving trucks. Florida has adopted many of these regulations and even added a few. These regulations, or someone’s failure to follow them, may have caused your injuries. If you’ve been in an accident with a large vehicle, a Pensacola truck accident attorney from our law firm can help you understand the regulations that apply to trucks.
It should come as no surprise that driver error is usually the number one reason for large truck accidents. There are numerous errors a truck driver can make that can lead to a collision. Some of the more common causes are:
In order to prove liability in a motor vehicle collision, there is almost always a thorough investigation, except when the cause is immediately apparent. However, with truck accidents, the liability investigation is quite complex. It may involve the use of experts and multiple inspections of the vehicles.
This is necessary to ascertain all the negligent parties. Truck drivers may be partially at fault for the collision, but an intensive investigation could reveal that the truck company had just replaced the brakes and they failed in the collision. You could have a claim against the truck company and the brake manufacturer as well.
Just as there are many causes of truck collisions, there are also different types of commercial truck accidents. Some of the most common types of large truck accidents Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon handle include:
When a truck driver loses control and cannot slow the truck down, or the weight causes it to continue moving, it can be deemed a runaway truck. This is a common scenario in accidents on downhill roads when the truck continues to gain speed.
Jackknife accidents are common with trucks that attach to the trailer with a coupling device. If the device fails or the trailer becomes off-balance, the trailer may swing out in a perpendicular manner. It resembles a folding jackknife, which is how this type of collision got its name. When a trailer jackknifes, it can strike vehicles in adjacent lanes and cause a lot of damage.
When you have a rear-end collision involving small vehicles, it may only result in minor injuries in some cases. When a commercial 18-wheeler rear-ends a vehicle, the truck may drive into the back of the vehicle. In some cases, it can even drive over the back seat, which usually results in a fatality if there was a passenger in the back. An underride, meanwhile, is when a small vehicle rear-ends a truck because it suddenly stops or changes lanes, causing the vehicle behind it to come to rest under the back of the truck. This can be fatal for the vehicle driver and any front-seat passenger. Some trucks have guards installed that prevent an underride, but collisions can still occur.
Because commercial trucks with trailers have a high center of gravity, they are prone to rolling over, especially if the driver takes a turn or curve too quickly. Overcorrecting and high winds are two other situations where a rollover might occur. A truck rolling over can strike numerous vehicles and cause a traffic nightmare for other drivers on the same road or highway.
There are cases where a commercial truck did not make contact with a vehicle but still caused a collision. When cargo falls off a flatbed truck or tractor trailer, it may strike approaching vehicles, or cars that arrive shortly after may not be able to avoid the hazard in the road.
As you can imagine, injuries in a truck accident claim can pretty much run the gamut, including:
If a loved one died due to a truck accident, you might be eligible to bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible parties. Speak with a Pensacola trucking injury lawyer as soon as possible to help you with a potential wrongful death case.
Just like any other driver on the road, someone in charge of safely operating a commercial tractor-trailer has a legal “duty” to follow traffic and trucking laws. They must watch out for other vehicles nearby, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists. Accordingly, any trucker who directly causes a traffic accident by recklessly or carelessly breaching this duty and injures someone else could be considered “negligent.” This could make them financially liable for any harm stemming directly from the incident.
However, truck drivers often have few personal assets to pay for damages. In many situations, it is also possible to hold such a truck driver’s employer “vicariously liable” for their worker’s misconduct, or directly liable for their own negligence. This negligence could include a failure to train drivers properly or instructing drivers to violate federal trucking regulations.
Other parties who could bear some or most of the fault for a wreck include truck component manufacturers who made faulty parts, mechanics who did not ensure a truck was roadworthy prior to transit, a supplier who failed to secure cargo in a truck’s trailer, or even another driver on the road.
A Pensacola truck accident attorney could provide vital assistance with taking effective legal action against every person who played a role in causing a plaintiff’s injuries. Insurance companies will try to reduce the amount of damages they need to pay out, which is why a lawyer’s help is necessary.
Another key role that legal counsel could play in truck accident litigation is disproving allegations of “comparative fault” made against a plaintiff. In a nutshell, “comparative fault” is the degree to which a court believes that an injured plaintiff is responsible for causing or worsening their injuries through their own negligence. An example of this might be a bicyclist who was not riding in the correct space but was hit by a truck driver who was texting.
As per Florida Statutes § 768.81, courts can reduce the total value of a plaintiff’s final damage award by the percentage of blame they place on the plaintiff. Representation from a skilled lawyer can be vital to maximizing available recovery after a truck wreck in Pensacola.
If a victim survives a collision with a large truck, they typically have mounting financial losses to deal with because of the severe injuries. Victims need to have an idea of what their claim is worth to ensure they pursue a claim for the maximum amount.
When you retain a truck accident attorney in Pensacola, they will meet with you during your free case evaluation to review your legal options and determine how much you could potentially receive. Recovery for a truck crash can include compensation for:
If you are injured in Florida, you have two years to file a truck accident case. This may seem like a lot of time. However, your case may need an in-depth investigation just to determine who is at fault. So don’t wait until the last minute. Call an experienced truck accident attorney right away to preserve your rights.
If you were partly at fault, you may still be able to recover compensation for your injuries. Florida is a pure comparative fault state. This means that you can recover even if you are mostly at fault, but your compensation is reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault. For example, if your compensatory damages are $100,000 and you are 40% at fault, you will be able to recover $60,000. If you are more than 50% at fault, you cannot recover anything.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), any compensation for personal injuries or sickness is not taxable. However, punitive damages are taxable. You should speak with a tax professional about your potential tax liability.
No one deserves to suffer life-altering harm from a wreck caused entirely by the neglect of a truck driver or the company they work for. Unfortunately, accidents like this happen every day around Florida, and getting paid fairly for your losses can be difficult to accomplish alone.
Working with a Pensacola truck accident lawyer is vital to securing comprehensive compensation for all your past and future damages. Call us today for a free consultation.