How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help Me?
Trucks are vital to the United States economy and a common sight on Florida’s many highways. With a high volume of tractor-trailers on the state’s roads comes an increased chance of truck accidents that can seriously injure other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Truck drivers, trucking companies, and truck manufacturers must adhere to strict safety standards. When these parties fail to uphold this duty, they put everyone on the roads at risk of devastating truck accidents that have the potential to cause catastrophic damage, life-altering injuries, and even death.
The victims of these accidents often face overwhelming financial stress due to the cost of medical treatment, missed time at work, and other economic losses. Even people with medical insurance may need to pay astronomical out-of-pocket expenses due to ongoing medical needs such as rehabilitation, specialized equipment, or expensive prescription drugs.
If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident caused by a truck driver or another party, you have the right to seek compensation and hold those responsible for the crash accountable. Many injury victims believe they can handle truck accident cases themselves, but the process can confuse and overwhelm thm.
Working with a dedicated Miami truck accident attorney can help make your case less stressful and increase your chances of pursuing full compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses. Keep reading to learn more about how a truck accident lawyer could help you.
What Steps Will a Florida Truck Accident Attorney Take?
Much of a truck accident lawyer’s value derives from the experience, skill, and knowledge they can apply to your case. Many aspects of truck accident cases can feel incomprehensible to the unfamiliar. Furthermore, you need and deserve to focus on healing from your injuries after a truck crash.
A seasoned legal professional can set your mind at ease while they take these essential steps to pursue the compensation you deserve:
Investigating the Semi-Truck Accident
Your truck accident attorney will thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances of the collision that led to your injuries.
During the investigation, your attorney may:
- Visit the accident scene to gather evidence of what occurred
- Interview any eyewitnesses or others involved in the collision
- Review available security camera, dash cam, or traffic camera footage
- Review records, such as the truck driver’s logbook or journey details from the trucking company
- Request data from the black box that contains digital information about what occurred before the crash
As your lawyer investigates, the information they gather may strengthen your case. An experienced truck accident attorney will know where to look and how to obtain the evidence they need to optimize your outcome. These investigative skills can give injury victims who hire lawyers an increased chance of securing fair settlements and verdicts than those who attempt to file a claim alone.
Determining Who Is At Fault
During their investigation, your attorney will evaluate evidence to determine who is liable for your injuries and other losses. Determining who is at fault for a truck accident can be challenging, as collisions involving commercial vehicles often have multiple responsible parties.
Often, truck driver negligence, recklessness, or carelessness are contributing factors in truck accidents.
Some driving behaviors that could make a truck driver liable for injuries in a truck crash include:
- Fatigued driving: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has strict regulations to prevent tired or drowsy truck driving. Nevertheless, many truckers ignore these rules to meet deadlines. A tired truck driver might nod off behind the wheel, causing them to lose control of the vehicle and strike other vehicles on the road.
- Distracted driving: The FMCSA cites distracted driving as one of the leading causes of 18-wheeler collisions. Drivers who eat, drink, text, or adjust the GPS behind the wheel can lose focus and cause devastating crashes.
- Aggressive driving: Aggressive drivers endanger others when their anger or frustration prompts them to make risky maneuvers. When truckers allow their emotions to get the best of them, they might weave in and out of traffic, make unsafe lane changes, or follow other vehicles too closely.
- Driving under the influence: Drunk or drugged driving is dangerous for any driver. When someone behind the wheel of a large truck is under the influence, the results can be catastrophic due to the massive size and weight of the truck.
However, a truck driver is not the only party that can be responsible for a truck accident. For example, if the trucker’s employer places unreasonable labor demands on their workers or if the employer fails to conduct compulsory drug testing, the trucking company could be partially to blame for a truck crash.
You might hold the trucking company accountable for accidents resulting from:
- Poor hiring practices. If the company fails to vet potential drivers thoroughly and hires inexperienced or ineligible employees, it could be liable for injuries the driver causes in a crash.
- Improper maintenance. The FMCSA requires trucking companies to conduct regular maintenance checks and repairs on their vehicles. Trucks or components that fail due to improper care can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, risking devastating harm to others.
- Improperly loaded trucks. People who load goods into a truck’s trailer must balance the weight of the cargo and ensure its securement. Improperly loaded trailers can lead to dangerous jackknifes, rollovers, and cargo spills.
Other parties or entities may bear responsibility for your accident-related losses, including:
- Mechanic or repair service. If the trucking company took the vehicle for repairs, but the mechanic failed to diagnose or fix a problem that later caused an accident, you might be able to file a claim against the repair service.
- Vehicle or parts manufacturer. If the accident occurred because the truck or one of its components was defective, the manufacturer might be liable.
- Vehicle loaders. Some trucking companies hire third-party vehicle loaders to help ensure that the loading of their trailers complies with FMCSA regulations. If the loading company is negligent in its duties, you could seek compensation from them.
With so many possible at-fault parties, many injured Floridians have difficulty knowing where to begin with their accident claim. Others seek compensation from just one source without realizing that they are eligible to file multiple claims in case one insurance policy does not cover the full extent of their losses. Hiring an experienced truck accident attorney can help you avoid these pitfalls so you can pursue the compensation you deserve.
Valuing Your Claim
Experienced personal injury attorneys understand what is at stake for people who have suffered injuries in truck accidents. Your lawyer can evaluate how much your injuries have cost you so far.
These expenses may include:
- Medical bills, including ambulance rides, emergency room visits, doctor’s office visits, diagnostic tests such as x-rays, surgical procedures, and prescription drugs
- Lost wages due to missed time at work
- Property damage, such as car repair or replacement
- Rental car or other transportation costs
Yet many injured people do not realize that they may claim compensation for:
- Ongoing medical costs, such as assistive devices, rehabilitation, and therapy
- Reduced earning capacity due to disability or disfigurement
- Household care, such as cleaning or childcare, if your injuries prevent you from undertaking these tasks
- Home modifications your disability may require
Furthermore, your attorney can also determine the value of the compensation you should receive for non-economic losses such as:
- Physical and psychological pain and suffering
- Disability and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
While these losses can be difficult for you to calculate yourself, an experienced Florida truck accident attorney will compare your situation to similar previous cases to determine the amount you should receive.
A small number of claimants in Florida qualify for punitive damages in their injury suits. Rather than merely compensating an injured party, punitive damages punish the defendant for unethical or egregious behavior that shows flagrant disregard for human life. Speak to an experienced Florida truck accident attorney to learn more about whether your case might qualify for punitive damages.
Negotiating with the Insurance Company
Once your attorney has determined how much you deserve to pursue for your losses, they may begin negotiating with the insurance company to seek compensation. Working with a seasoned lawyer is essential at this stage. Insurance adjusters often attempt to communicate directly with the injured person soon after the accident. They frame these conversations as courtesy calls, but their intention might be to find a reason to avoid paying your claim.
Insurance adjusters may employ multiple tactics to this end:
- Getting you to say you are fine. Many phone conversations begin with a familiar exchange: “How are you?” “I’m fine.” When an insurance adjuster asks you how you are, this response is precisely what they want to hear. Although you may be in excruciating pain, your habitual answer could allow the insurance company to argue that your injuries are not as bad as you claim.
- Tricking you into admitting fault. Many people have a habit of using apologetic language. If you say, “I’m sorry,” at any point while discussing the accident with an insurance representative, they could use this phrase against you by claiming that you admitted fault for the collision.
- Pressuring you into settling quickly. When an insurance adjuster understands that their client may be liable for a large settlement, they may attempt to catch you off guard by making a quick offer. Yet, even though the insurance adjuster might tell you otherwise, these initial offers are seldom the best settlement you can get. They are usually tests to determine whether you understand the actual value of your claim. The insurance adjuster may believe that if you have not yet spoken to your attorney about what compensation to seek, you will be happy to accept whatever is on offer.
If an insurance adjuster attempts to speak to you after an accident, you have no obligation to say anything to them. Your best bet is to consult an experienced Florida truck accident attorney who can negotiate aggressively on your behalf. A knowledgeable attorney will only settle for what you deserve.
Taking Your Claim to Court
The insurance company may refuse to offer you sufficient compensation to cover the full extent of your losses. If so, your only recourse may be to file a truck accident lawsuit and take the at-fault party to court.
While you have a right to represent yourself in a lawsuit, doing so could harm your case considerably. The judge will expect you to be deeply familiar with the law. The defense attorneys will eagerly take advantage of your lack of experience and legal knowledge. Even if the facts favor your case, you could have difficulty seeking the compensation you deserve.
A skilled truck accident lawyer will start taking steps to prepare your case even before they are confident that a lawsuit will become necessary. If your claim goes to trial, an attorney with courtroom experience will fight to win the maximum possible verdict in your favor. Working with a qualified legal representative from the beginning can optimize your chances of success in a lawsuit.
Seek an Experienced Florida Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident in Florida, finding the right attorney can be vital to the success of your claim. Look for a lawyer with significant experience pursuing compensation in truck accident cases. While many attorneys only handle negotiations with insurance companies, finding a seasoned trial lawyer can be essential if you need to file a lawsuit. Review each potential attorney’s website for positive testimonials and successful results. Reach out to a Miami personal injury lawyer.
Life after an accident can feel overwhelming and stressful. Knowing that your losses happened due to another party’s actions can leave you with a profound sense of injustice. You deserve to have someone on your side who understands your situation and who will fight for what you deserve.