If you’ve been injured in a commercial truck accident, you may be unsure of your rights and how to support yourself and those you love as you heal. That’s understandable. Truck accident claims can be complex.

But you don’t have to figure things out on your own. The experienced attorneys at Brooks Law Group have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about truck accidents and your rights if you’ve been in a collision.

If you do not see the answer to your question below, that doesn’t mean we can’t provide it for you. Our attorneys offer free, no-obligation consultations to accident victims throughout Tampa and the surrounding communities.

Call (800) LAW-3030 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.

What Should I Do If I Am Involved In A Truck Accident?

Your most important priority after a truck accident is to seek medical attention, even if you don’t feel hurt. Many serious injuries can have a delayed onset, and insurance companies become more likely to deny injury claims when there are delays in treatment.

If you aren’t transported to the hospital at the accident scene, take the following additional steps if you can:

  • Call the police: You will need a police report filed for your accident, so do not hesitate to contact the local law enforcement agency.
  • Take pictures: Use any camera available to take as many photographs as possible of everything involved in your crash. Get pictures of vehicles, people, road conditions and all other notable factors before this evidence disappears. Try to get photographs from multiple angles and distances so you have a good assortment of images.
  • Gather witness information: Look for other people who many have seen your accident and ask them for contact information. Independent witnesses could be valuable if an insurance company attempts to blame somebody else for a crash caused by their truck driver.

You will likely be contacted soon after your crash by the trucking company’s insurance company. Do not provide a recorded statement until you have quality legal representation. Contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as you can and let them deal with an insurer on your behalf.

What Are The Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

According to recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large trucks are responsible for 55 percent of all car accidents on U.S. roadways and 44 percent of two-vehicle crashes between trucks and other motor vehicles.

Driver actions or errors were responsible in 87 percent of these cases, according to the data. Examples include:

  • Panic and poor directional control
  • Defective vehicle parts
  • Poor maintenance

In addition, brake problems were listed as the most common associated risk factor in truck accidents. There were also 2,000 cases in which environmental factors (e.g., rain, snow) were the critical cause of the collisions.

Why Do Truck Accidents Tend To Be Worse Than Car Wrecks?

The average commercial truck weighs 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle is only about 5,000 pounds. The vast size difference puts the occupants of the other vehicles at far greater risk of serious injury.

Who Can Be Held Liable In A Truck Accident Claim?

Determining fault is key in any truck accident claim. Who is responsible for the wreck? Oftentimes, the answer is not so simple.

Commercial trucks are regulated by strict state and federal laws. Truckers and trucking companies are held to much higher standards in terms of road safety. When they break the rules and someone is hurt, the stakes can be high.

Discovering who can be held liable in a truck accident case depends on the facts. Examples of potential defendants include:

  • Truck driver
  • Trucking company
  • The truck’s owner
  • Maintenance and repair services
  • Truck parts manufacturer
  • The freight loader
  • The truck shipper
  • Other drivers

In some cases, multiple parties could be held liable for the accident that injured you. A qualified truck accident attorney will be skilled at rooting out what happened in your case and making sure that every at-fault party is held accountable for their role in the crash.

What Should I Look For In A Truck Accident Attorney?

When you are in the process of meeting with lawyers to discuss your truck accident case, you should align yourself with the attorney who makes you feel most comfortable. What feels right for one client will be completely different for another.

Cost shouldn’t be a primary factor. Most personal injury lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that they pay for all upfront costs and you only pay if they win a verdict or settlement on your behalf. A good personal injury attorney will be sure to go over fee agreements in detail and answer any of your questions before starting work on your case.

Experience is critical. When you’ve been the victim of a commercial truck accident, you’ll need an attorney that’s handled these types of cases before. Don’t be afraid to ask about an attorney’s prior experience with cases like yours and what results he or she achieved. Keep in mind that past results do not guarantee the same outcome in your case.

How Long Do Truck Accident Cases Take To Settle?

There’s no guarantee of how long it will take to reach a settlement in a truck accident case.  It could be several months or years, depending on if the case goes to trial.

However, it’s safe to say that your case will most likely settle. That’s because insurance companies know that trials are more expensive and riskier. It’s in their favor to place a full and fair settlement offer on the table before going to court.

With that said, expect for the negotiations process to go on for a while. Most insurers do not agree to settlements until they see a legitimate risk of going to trial. For this reason, it is not uncommon for a case to be settled right before the trial begins.

In Florida, you have four years from the date of the truck accident to file a personal injury claim. However, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible, because vital pieces of evidence and black box data could be lost or destroyed if you delay too long. It’s also important to file before the clock runs out because failure to meet the deadline could bar you from compensation forever.

Should I Accept The Settlement From The Insurance Company?

You should not accept an insurance company’s initial offer after a truck accident. These types of cases often result in catastrophic trauma, with physical, financial and emotional wounds that can last a lifetime.

It’s practically guaranteed that you are entitled to more compensation than what the insurance company initially offers you. It is very important that you do not focus only on your existing bills when you are weighing a settlement offer from an insurance company. Consider how many future bills you will be facing.

Most initial settlement offers from insurance companies do not account for the future, and people who accept such settlements only learn later that they will be responsible for paying all of those expenses out of their own pockets. You should decline any settlement offer and let a lawyer negotiate a more suitable settlement for you.

What Happens If I Was Partially At Fault For The Truck Accident?

Sharing fault in the crash does not necessarily prohibit you from recovering compensation, but it could certainly affect the amount you are ultimately awarded. Florida uses a pure comparative negligence standard in personal injury cases, which simply means that a person’s recovery is limited by their degree of fault.

The good news is that under this rule, it’s possible that you could recover some money regardless of your degree of fault. For example, if you were awarded $100,000 in a truck accident for which you were found to have been 65 percent at fault, your award would be reduced by $65,000 and you would ultimately receive $35,000.

Are There Exceptions to the Florida Statute of Limitations For Truck Accidents?

Yes, there are some exceptions to the four-year time limit on truck accident claims. When the injured victim is a minor, they are unable to file a lawsuit because they are not of age. In these cases, the deadline can be tolled (delayed) until the child reaches 18.

The same principle applies to people who are incapacitated after a truck accident (e.g., in a coma). The limitations period can be tolled so these individuals have four years to file from the time they become able to file lawsuits again.

What Kinds Of Damages Might I Be Entitled To?

A commercial truck accident has the potential to result in significant damages. Most cases are resolved through settlements that are designed to cover all past, present, and future expenses that a victim will face.

Accident victims may receive compensatory damages, which includes economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages relate to actual costs like medical bills, lost income and property damage.

By contrast, noneconomic damages are awards for far more subjective kinds of harm such as loss of consortium, disfigurement and pain and suffering.

It is also possible that some cases could also result in punitive damages awards, but these are very rare and are generally reserved for cases in which a defendant is being punished for a particularly egregious act of negligence. Drunk driving is one common reason for a punitive damages award.

How Can Brooks Law Group Help Me?

For decades, Brooks Law Group has provided personalized and confidential legal services for injured clients in Tampa, Winter Haven, Lakeland and Auburndale. We will:

  • Conduct an exhaustive and thorough independent investigation of your crash. Our attorneys will immediately have experts on the scene to determine the cause of the truck accident and preserve important evidence.
  • Identify every liable party who might owe you compensation. Our firm can step in and deal with insurance companies on your behalf so you will not have to worry about making any statements that harm your case. We will work with your medical care providers to ensure that you are able to receive every single round of treatment you need, regardless of any issues relating to cost.
  • Demand maximum compensation for you and your family. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys always work towards achieving a settlement first. But we are not afraid to file a lawsuit to get you the compensation you are entitled to. We prepare each case as if it will go to trial, and we’ll be ready to fight for every penny that you’re owed.

If you suffered severe injuries or lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident in Florida, do not wait to contact Brooks Law Group. We are ready and willing to fight for your rights.

Contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.