In general, accidents that involve trucks are a lot more complex than those involving motor vehicles. Due to the truck’s large size, there are often multiple parties that may be responsible for truck accidents, and there could be multiple injuries as well. For example, the majority of trucks on the roads are operated by large companies who are also responsible for the safe hiring of truck drivers and ensuring the safety of the truck. Florida truck accident lawyers can have your back if anything happens on the road.
One thing to understand is that some truck drivers carry minimal liability insurance, and if you have been injured, the insurance may not be adequate to compensate you for your medical bills. Therefore, Florida truck accident lawyers will carefully analyze the entire truck accident and determine who else may also be partially responsible, such as the truck owner or trucking company. If you have been involved in a truck accident, the following individuals may be legally responsible for your injuries and damages:
- Truck driver. The driver may have been speeding, distracted, tired, sleepy, or failed to maintain the truck properly.
- The truck owner. The truck owner often claims that the trucker was freelancing or was an independent driver (not an employee) to deviate from the liability claim. The lawyer then has to show the relationship between the trucking company and the driver. For example, who set the trucker’s hours? Who loaded the truck? Did the employer obtain workers’ compensation insurance? Did the trucking company pay the driver’s insurance and health premiums? If yes, this points to the fact that the truck driver is a trucking company employee. Under federal law, if a truck has a commercial trucking permit displayed, if an accident happens involving that truck, the company is also held liable, irrespective of whether the truck driver is an independent contractor or an employee.
- Individual(s) who loaded the truck. If another individual overloaded the truck, or loaded the cargo unsafely, or failed to secure the cargo, he or she can also be held liable when an accident occurs.
- Manufacturer of the truck. There may have been a defect in the steering, brakes, or the engine that could have caused the accident.
- Individual who maintains the trucks. If the accident was due to a steering problem or worn-out tires that blew, this could signal poor maintenance, and either the truck owner or manufacturer could be held liable.
- A local government is responsible for highway safety and maintenance. The local government in charge of the road could also be held liable for an accident if it failed to display road maintenance signs, sufficient guardrails, failed to clear an obstruction from the road, or failed to clean up oil spills if it resulted in truck accidents.
The Lawyer’s Responsibilities
When you are involved in a truck accident, the lawyer has an enormous amount of work to do. First, he has to prove who was at fault and why the accident occurred. If it can be shown that more than one more person is liable for the truck accident, then you, the injured victim, could potentially collect a significant amount of compensation by making claims against multiple parties concerned.
The Evidence Collection
While liability in some trucking accidents may be relatively easy to determine if the trucker was speeding or failed to stop at a red light, in other cases, the liability can be difficult to prove. For example, the trucker may have been tired, distracted, or sleepy, and, in such cases, you need an experienced lawyer to determine what exactly caused the truck accident. Proving fatigue as a cause of an accident is not easy and can be very challenging.
The Driver’s Log
Whenever there is a trucking accident, the lawyer needs to get much more information than just about the accident itself. Today, all trucks are equipped with high-tech devices that record speed, distance traveled, hours driven in one shift, etc. This driving log is vital to access as it can reveal a lot more about the truck driver, such as when the brakes were used, how often the brakes were used, patterns of driving, and any problems with the truck. Further, these logs can reveal if the driver was compliant with state and federal laws on resting in between each drive. The lawyer usually has to legally request this information from the trucking company.
In addition, whenever a truck is involved in an accident, state and federal laws require that a certified truck inspector assess the truck involved in the accident before removal. This report will state the overall condition of the truck and if any major defects were present. This report has to be obtained from the Transportation Department as it is not part of the police report.
Finally, if you are injured following a trucking accident, the lawyer has to tabulate both your economic and non-economic damages. This includes the cost of your medical care, time off work, lost wages, any residual disability, loss, or damage to property in your vehicle. The lawyer can also make a claim for any pain and suffering, disfigurement, or emotional distress.
What To Do If You Are Involved In A Collision With A Truck?
If you are involved in an accident with a truck, here are some things you should do:
- First, check to make sure that your passengers are safe.
- Even if you have not been injured, do not leave the scene of truck accidents, even if it is not your fault.
- Call the local police department or 911.
- Exchange the relevant information with the truck driver: this includes name, contact number, license plate, truck registration, and insurance policy numbers. Always ask if the truck driver is an employee or an independent contractor and who owns the truck. Preferably record everything on your smartphone.
- Do not discuss the details of the accident with anyone except law enforcement.
- Seek the presence of any witnesses and get their names and contact information.
- Take as many pictures as possible of the scene of the accident, road conditions, extent of damage, presence of traffic lights, skid marks, and any signs or logos on the truck.
Suppose you have been involved in a truck accident. In that case, the best advice is to contact Florida truck accident lawyers who can determine the validity of your case and get you the maximum compensation you deserve.