Things to Know for a Successful Truck Accident Claim
Large commercial trucks often crowd Florida’s major highways and city streets. From delivery trucks to gasoline tanker trucks, these heavy vehicles often pose a risk to drivers of passenger vehicles. Large trucks typically weigh between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds, whereas today’s standard car weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. When a large truck strikes a passenger vehicle, the results are often tragic. If you were recently injured due to a truck accident in Florida, you should take immediate action to ensure that the parties responsible for your injuries are held accountable for the suffering they have inflicted on you and your loved ones.
Tens of thousands of commercial truck accidents occur annually in Central Florida. Many of these collisions take place between commercial trucks and everyday vehicles. These crashes often bring life-altering changes for the vehicle’s occupants in the form of debilitating injuries or death. Those who survive these collisions tend to accumulate steep medical bills that quickly become unaffordable.
At The Umansky Law Firm, we are here to tell you that you should not be worrying about your financial state when you are healing your wounds after a large truck accident in Central Florida. Our team of personal injury lawyers is determined to fight for the compensation you deserve to help you recover both physically and financially. We want to ensure you have the best chance possible to hold the parties accountable — of which there may be several — liable for your injuries. The information below should help boost your chances of a successful claim.
Understanding the “Standard of Care”
In order to have a case, it’s important to understand the standard of care. In a personal injury lawsuit, the duty of care refers to an individual’s legal responsibility to use reasonable caution when dealing with others. In a truck accident case, it refers to the truck driver’s duty to exhibit reasonable care not to injure others while driving his truck. For you to have a case, your attorney must be able to prove the following facts:
- The truck driver breached the duty of care
- The breach caused the collision
- The collision caused your injuries
All truck drivers must abide by several rules laid out by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Unfortunately, many truck drivers disregard these rules due to the extreme pressure the industry places on them to complete deliveries and the fact that they are paid per mile rather than per hour. If it can be established that the truck driver in your case acted negligently by violating any of the regulations, you can build a strong case for your claim.
Top Commercial Truck Driver Rules and Regulations
Commercial truckers must comply with the rules and regulations of their trade to ensure their own safety and that of fellow motorists. Many severe truck accidents take place because truckers ignore these rules. Some of the most prominent regulations are:
- Truck drivers must be licensed as commercial drivers
- Truck drivers must abide by the hours of service regulations
- Truck drivers must not haul more than the appropriate weight for their truck
- Trucks must be properly inspected and repaired
Crippling injuries often result because a trucker violated one or more of these rules and regulations. Some of the most common acts of negligence include:
- Driving past the legal time frame, leading to fatigue
- Failing to properly maintain the vehicle/ failure to make necessary repairs
- Improper loading or load shifting
- Violating traffic laws and speed limits specific to heavy vehicles
Driver Logs and Black Boxes
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)requires commercial trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices (ELDs) that record the number of hours a driver is behind the wheel. The FMCSA acknowledges that driver fatigue plays a key role in 13% of truck accidents, which is why these driver logs work to encourage truckers to comply with federal regulations.
Additionally, many commercial trucks now come equipped with event data recorders (EDRs) that work as black boxes do in airplanes They collect a variety of data, including:
- A driver’s GPS coordinates
- A driver’s average speed
- A driver’s use of cruise control
- A driver’s speed at the time of the accident
- How long a driver was speeding
- If the driver used a seatbelt
- How many sudden stops or hard brakes the driver made
- If the airbags deployed
A competent personal injury attorney who handles truck accidents will be able to conduct his or her own investigation of the accident you survived to determine whether the truck driver violated any of the rules. With the right evidence, you can develop a strong case for a truck accident claim.
Investigating Truck Accidents
The FMCSA also mandates that every trucking company maintain a driver qualification file, or DQF. This file is imperative for investigating a truck accident. A DQF must include:
- Driving records including accident history
- Driver’s employment history
- Road test results
- Results of drug and alcohol tests
- Records of hours of service
- Training certificates
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Copies of commercial licenses
- Records of annual reviews
- Medical certifications
- Employment applications
- Personal records
Your personal injury attorney should be able to obtain a DQF for your truck accident case.
Preparing to Meet with your Florida Truck Accident Lawyer
You will develop a close relationship with your attorney throughout the claims process. A thorough attorney will be sure to handle all the necessary logistics of filing a claim and keep you updated on the status of your case so that you can focus on your recovery. To help your lawyer’s chance of obtaining a fair settlement, you should share the following information.
Describe the Accident
Gather as much information about your accident as possible before meeting with an attorney. Try to include:
- Where and when the accident took place
- A copy of the police report and the contact information of the other driver, his employer, and any witnesses that were present
- Documented evidence such as photos and videos of the accident scene
- Note what the driving conditions were at the time of the accident (weather and road conditions)
Provide your Vehicle Information
Your lawyer will need to know the condition of your vehicle before and after the accident to ensure you receive fair compensation for property damage. Be sure to give your lawyer the year, make and model of your car as well as any photos you may have taken of your car before and after the accident.
If you sustained injuries after the accident, you likely saw your primary physician for treatment. It’s possible that he may have referred you to a specialist or therapy after he evaluated your injuries. Be sure to provide as much information as you can about the medical care you received immediately after the accident.
The Orlando truck accident lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm can confirm whether or not you have a case during a free consultation. We will strive to obtain every cent you deserve for your medical bills, costs of ongoing therapy, medical equipment, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damage, and more. Call our office or email us for more information.