Sharing the roads with large trucks, semi-trailers, and delivery trucks can set Florida drivers on edge, and with good reason. While any motor-vehicle accident brings consequences, those that involve trucks are even more likely to produce life-changing or deadly outcomes. Truck accident victims are often left facing horrific physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial instability. Medical bills and other related expenses pile up while victims lose, at least temporarily, the ability to work and earn income.
When a truck accident is caused by another party’s negligence or recklessness, victims have the right to seek compensation for their losses from that party. To ensure they receive the substantial settlement deserved, it is in the victims’ best interests to partner with the Florida truck accident lawyers from Luhrsen Goldberg.
Why Truck Accidents Are So Dangerous
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trucks are typically “20 to 30 times heavier than passenger vehicles,” and their mass “increases the risk of severe crash damage, injuries, and fatalities.” Clearly, passenger vehicles and their occupants are the underdogs when involved in collisions with trucks.
Because of their massive size and weight, trucks are also more difficult to operate. Operators face more challenges when accelerating, braking, and steering these huge vehicles. These challenges increase opportunities for accidents, resulting in higher risks for all on the roads.
Some trucks haul hazardous materials, and typical big rigs have gas tanks holding 120 to 150 gallons of flammable fuel. Upon impact with other vehicles, hazardous materials, and gasoline can easily burst into flames or explode.
Common Injuries Sustained in Florida Truck Accidents
It is not hard to see how a truck’s characteristics–size, weight, cargo, handling challenges–can lead to extremely serious injuries for victims of truck accidents.
Burns can result from fires or explosions when gas or chemicals ignite upon impact or from friction. Friction burns can occur if victims are ejected from a vehicle and their skin scrapes along the road.
Serious burns are not just extraordinarily painful but also require extensive medical treatment. Victims may need skin grafts, cosmetic, or other surgeries and are more susceptible to limb- or life-threatening infections. The worst burns can reach inside the body and lead to organ damage or failure.
Additionally, burns leave noticeable scarring or disfigurement, affecting a victim’s appearance and can reduce or destroy functionality in the damaged part of the body.
Spinal Cord Damage
Truck accident victims experience spinal cord injuries (SCIs) when a traumatic injury “bruises, partially tears, or completely tears the spinal cord,” which is a “bundle of nerves” carrying messages from the brain to the rest of the body for “movement and sensation.”
SCIs can leave victims with permanent, partial, or total paralysis and often lead to additional medical complications. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINH), along with paralysis, the effects of SCIs include:
- Numbness and tingling in parts of the body
- Respiratory complications
- Bladder and bowel dysfunction
- Loss of sexual function
- Circulatory problems
- Pressure sores
- Chronic pain
- Muscle stiffness or spasms
Traumatic Brain Injury
The Mayo Clinic describes a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as an injury causing bruising, tissue tears, bleeding, or other physical damage to the brain. They result from a violent jolt or blunt impact to the head or body, a phenomenon common in truck accidents.
A TBI can cause debilitating physical, cognitive, and emotional effects that may be permanent. For example, those affected may experience:
- Changed sense of taste or smell
- Losses to seeing and hearing abilities
- Memory problems
- Reduced ability to learn, process information, think critically, and exercise judgment
- Problems with communication
- Diminished executive functioning
- Emotional changes, such as lack of empathy, irritability, or mood swings
- Behavioral changes, such as impulsivity and difficulties with social interactions
The Mayo Clinic also states that though not yet definitive, emerging research indicates those who suffer TBI may be at greater risk for degenerative brain conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Amputations or Lacerations
Broken glass and twisted or sharp metal or plastic edges are common dangers in truck accidents. These hazards can slice through tissue or nerves, cause deep puncture words, or even sever limbs. Victims can be left with permanent disabilities or disfigurement.
Many bone breaks heal successfully with surgery and rehabilitation. However, some bone breaks are so severe they require even more extensive interventions, and victims may still never experience total recovery. Instead, they are left with limited strength or mobility, chronic pain, or deformity. As with many other medical conditions, serious bone breaks can cause nerve damage or infection.
Truck Accidents in Florida and the United States
For a recent full year of data collection, the National Safety Council (NSC) reported 5,788 fatalities from truck accident deaths countrywide. Florida accounted for 373 of those fatalities, ranking as one of the three highest-ranked states for truck accident deaths. Of those deaths:
- 71%, or 264, were occupants of other vehicles
- 12%, or 46, were truck occupants
- 17%, or 63, were pedestrians or vehicle non-occupants
In the same year, the FMCSA states that 415,000 truck accidents were reported. Injuries occurred in 101,000 of those crashes.
When to Connect with a Big-Rig Accident Lawyer in Florida
If you are involved in a truck accident, reach out to the big-rig accident attorneys at Luhrsen Goldberg as soon as possible. Of course, your first priority is to ensure your health and safety, and in many truck accident scenarios, emergency medical care is needed.
If you are fortunate enough not to need emergency care, you still need to see a medical professional promptly. The effects of some injuries, even deadly ones, can take a few hours to appear, and delays in treatment can put you in danger. Further, if you delay care, the party at fault for your accident can use that delay against you, claiming your worsened condition resulted from your decision to postpone care rather than from their negligence.
Once you are safe, connect with an experienced truck accident lawyer in Florida. The sooner your attorney has access to your case, the sooner you can see results.
Causes of Truck Accidents
A critical element in pursuing an accident case is determining its cause. Tractor-trailer accident lawyers know there are a variety of potential causes for an accident, and discovering what actually happened allows them to identify the negligent party and collect evidence to prove your case.
Driver Error or Recklessness
To get a commercial driver’s license (CDL), truckers must undergo special training. Trucks are complicated vehicles with complex steering, braking, and operational systems. Even with training, truck drivers can make mistakes when handling their rigs. Or, they may simply make a driving error–failing to signal when changing lanes or failing to notice traffic signals.
Their size and weight make trucks more difficult to stop, especially when traveling at high speeds. Truck drivers must take care to stay within speed limits and leave ample space between their trucks and the vehicles in front of them to avoid collisions upon slowdowns.
Truckers must also take special care when changing lanes and turning, maintaining safe speeds to avoid jackknifing or rollovers.
Driver Fatigue or Substance Use
The FMCSA has specific regulations in place to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue or driving under the influence (DUI). Drivers must comply with regulations determining the number of consecutive days and hours they can drive, when to take mandatory rests, and how long those rest periods must be. Trucking companies must monitor driver activity through electronic logs.
In Florida and most states, drivers 21 years and older can be charged with DUI when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measures .08%. For commercial drivers, that threshold is lowered to .04%. Further, truckers cannot drink or be impaired by alcohol within four hours of working and cannot drive while under the influence of any mind-altering substances, including prescription medications.
Trucking companies must disqualify drivers convicted of DUI from operating vehicles.
Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks can become unbalanced and cause drivers to lose control, stress braking systems to the point of failure, or even “release” unsecured cargo into the roadway or surrounding vehicles.
Trucking companies and truckers themselves are responsible for adhering to truck weight limits and using appropriate load-securing equipment and techniques.
Commercial truckers must inspect their vehicles daily, before and after each ride. Truck companies must comply with an additional schedule of inspections. Vehicle malfunctions, even seemingly minor ones, can have deadly consequences. The complex systems that make semi-trucks operational require constant inspection and careful maintenance.
Road or Weather Conditions
Poorly maintained roads are another source of accidents. Trucks may experience blowouts after hitting potholes or skidding on loose gravel. Bad weather conditions also pose serious dangers for truck operators and those sharing the roads. The FMCSA requires truck drivers to take special precautions when operating in adverse weather conditions.
How a Semi-Truck Attorney Will Help You
After an accident, you need to put your energy into recovery. Receiving compensation for your losses is necessary for you to achieve the highest level of recovery possible and to stabilize your financial future. However, pursuing that compensation is a stressful, time-consuming effort. Any errors can lower your chances of securing a settlement.
For the sake of your recovery and your settlement, trust the Florida semi-truck attorneys from our team to manage your case. Our attorneys have the legal knowledge, experience, and resources to:
- Conduct a thorough investigation of your accident to determine its cause and identify the negligent party
- Compile evidence from all available sources to support your claim. Sources may include the truck’s electronic data recorder (the “black box”), traffic and security camera footage, testimony from witnesses, physical evidence from the scene, and input from relevant experts
- Value your losses and make a fair settlement demand
- Negotiate your settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance and legal representatives to ensure you are appropriately compensated
- Represent you at all court proceedings if you take your case to trial. While most truck accident claims settle out of court, sometimes the at-fault party refuses to play fair, and you may choose to fight in court
Compensation for a Florida Truck Accident
Another important reason to connect with an 18-wheeler attorney promptly after your accident is to ensure you file your accident claim within Florida’s two-year statute of limitations. If you need to take your case to court but do not file within this deadline, your case may be dismissed. Also, sometimes the at-fault party’s representatives need a “push” to take your settlement demand seriously, and filing the claim with the courts can serve as that push.
Under Florida’s fault laws, victims can pursue a settlement if they are less than 51% responsible for causing the accident. If victims meet that threshold but still hold some fault, their compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault. Your trucking accident lawyer will protect you from false blame and unwarranted culpability the at-fault party will likely try to put on you to reduce their payout.
There is no “average” settlement amount, as every accident has its own unique circumstances. That said, you can expect your attorney to seek:
- Coverage for your medical expenses
- Recovery of lost wages
- Recovery of additional accident-related expenses
- Acknowledgment of your physical pain and emotional suffering
- Acknowledgement of your reduced quality of life
If your loved one is killed in a truck accident or succumbs to injuries sustained in a truck accident, you may be entitled to a wrongful death settlement. Our Florida trucking accident attorneys will attend to your case with great care, pursuing compensation for your financial and emotional losses.
Tenacious, Dedicated Representation
Do not settle for inferior representation or an inadequate settlement. When your life is upended by a truck accident caused by someone else’s negligence, the Florida truck accident attorneys from Luhrsen Goldberg will fight fiercely to get you the compensation you deserve. We are so confident in our ability to get you results that we do not take any payment until securing your settlement. Contact us today to schedule a free case review and to start moving toward healing.