Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Lawyers
Of the more than 399,400 car accidents in 2018 in Florida, 44,808 of them involved commercial vehicles. The commercial trucking industry moves commerce in America, but crashes with these vehicles are all too frequent. As a $700-billion industry, chances are commercial trucking is here to stay.
If you’ve been in an accident with a commercial truck, now is the time to get the right guidance about your case. Below you’ll find some of the most important factors to consider if you’ve experienced this kind of accident. We hope this serves as a guide as you seek the best truck accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale.
All Accident Reports Are Not Created Equal
Commercial truck accidents tend to be more complicated than passenger only car accidents because of commercial trucking regulations. A law enforcement officer will arrive on the scene and do a report. However, these reports rarely account for the details needed for a legal claim. Authorities are not trained to know how to compile a report that recreates what occurred. As a result, many of these reports tend to be inadmissible in court or legal proceedings. This shouldn’t deter anyone from having an authority to compile a report. The reports are still helpful. However, understand that these details may not be useful in legal proceedings. A Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer knows how to investigate these crashes and get the right details for your claim.
Commercial Trucks and Federal Regulation
Commercial trucks and their drivers must adhere to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Those who operate and drive these vehicles are subject to qualifications, inspections, drive time, equipment ratings, and a number of other guidelines. Any violations in these governing principles can result in significant fines and worse yet, accidents on our roadways. A Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer understands these laws and knows how to find out if a truck is in violation of federal regulations.
Most Common Truck Accident Causes
Truck Driver Error – Everyone makes mistakes, but in commercial trucking, the stakes are far higher than a mere fender bender. Since these vehicles are typically much larger than the cars they hit, they tend to do a significant amount of damage. It doesn’t take but the smallest error to turn a minor swerve into a multiple car collision.
Speeding – An 18-wheel vehicle can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and travel 50-70 miles an hour. The potential for danger is always present with these vehicles. Improvements have been made for commercial truckers who work around the clock to get their shipments to their destination. Today, truckers must abide by speed limits and drive time regulations. Unfortunately, some drivers will forgo the posted speed limits putting themselves and others at risk.
Commercial Truck Insurance Snapshot
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations state that any vehicles that weight more than 10,000 pounds must carry at least $750,000 in insurance coverage. This is considered a “minimum,” and operating companies may opt to purchase upward on 1-million dollars in coverage to protect themselves. Trucks that carry commercial passengers, for example, a Greyhound bus, will have to carry more insurance. The same can be said about drivers who handle hazardous materials. A Fort Lauderdale truck accident law firm knows where to find insurance carrier information for commercial trucks in the event the operator is not transparent about their coverage.
Negligence vs. Criminal Liability
Almost all truck accidents involve negligence to some degree. This can rest on a passenger car or the truck driver involved. Negligence simply means that a truck driver didn’t take reasonable safety measures into account as deemed by the trucking industry. Some examples of this might be using a cell phone, speeding, tailgating, and so forth.
Criminal Liability can play a role in commercial truck accidents if a driver doesn’t comply with specific rules and regulations. For example, a driver may be criminally liable if he is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Another criminal act example is a driver not filling out their log book properly.
Furthermore, if an investigation reveals that the truck driver’s accident account doesn’t match the truck’s black box data, this too may point to criminal activity leading to punitive damages.
Insurance and Adjustment Professionals
Following an accident, drivers typically contact insurance companies to report the accident and begin the claims process. Insurance companies for the trucking industry work incredibly fast to minimize the damages that they will have to pay to the victims. The adjusters will start gathering evidence and information about the case. This can include photos, video, commercial truck black box information, and accident reports. Insurance representative and adjusters, however, will start trying to find someone else to pass the blame onto, this might even mean you.
Adjusters will often skew or “lose” data to avoid paying compensation to victims. Their job is to protect the trucking company and driver, not you. The insurance representatives will often appear to be very kind people who are concerned with your wellbeing, but one should never lose sight that these adjusters are waiting for you to say or sign something that keeps them from paying you what you’re owed. Insurance companies will even train their personnel to approach victims before they can work with a Fort Lauderdale truck accident law firm to minimize their financial obligations.
Delay in Legal Action
Trucking operators have lawyers on standby waiting to handle truck accidents. They have an impressive team of people and resources to help them navigate any legal action taken by victims. One of the most tragic mistakes that victims make is not to seek immediate legal counsel. This might be due to injuries and work-related financial strain, but victims often let the clock run out missing their window of limited opportunity to pursue a claim. A delay in filing claims can lead to missed deadlines, lost compensation, or no recovery at all.
We understand that filing a lawsuit with a major trucking company is overwhelming, especially if representatives are already trying to contact you to offer their low (and final) settlement. Before you speak to anyone about your case or sign anything with the insurance carriers, we want you to know that you still have the power to pursue your legal rights. Please contact the Law Offices of Gabriela C. Novo today and get the representation that you deserve.