When going up against a large trucking organization and their insurance company, you will face much pressure. They will be asking you questions and want you to sign documents to gain information about your past and present medical treatment. You shouldn’t deal with them alone. When you work with attorney David I. Fuchs, he will deal with all the calls and paperwork so you can focus on getting better. As a Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer, he can determine the cause of the crash and protect your rights throughout all stages of your case.
We will get you the money you need to move forward with life.
Truck Accidents in Fort Lauderdale are Unique
It’s important to understand that commercial vehicle accidents differ from typical car accident cases in several important ways. The first difference is the fact that commercial vehicle accidents often present a much greater risk of serious injury due to the large size and heavy weight of many vehicles. Generally, the weight and size of tractor-trailers and other large trucks will substantially change the outcome of a collision with a much smaller automobile, particularly with respect to the amount of property damage and the severity of the injuries incurred. Unfortunately, truck accidents are typically much more severe than car vs. car accidents, and the litigation surrounding truck accidents is usually far more complicated than car crashes.
More importantly, commercial vehicle accidents typically require that you pursue the corporate entity and their commercial insurance carrier if you need to make a claim. While insurance companies are never easy to deal with, the claim process may become even more complicated in the context of a commercial vehicle accident. The business may have set up its corporate structure specifically to shield itself from claims and may not even be responsible for owning and operating the vehicle. They will work closely with their lawyers to dispute your claim and make sure they don’t have to pay more than the absolute minimum.
Commercial vehicle accidents also raise a number of unique issues, due to the fact that the driver of the vehicle was likely driving as part of their job. Some of the issues that should be investigated to ensure that you are properly compensated for your claim include:
- Was the driver properly trained?
- Did the driver have the necessary license or other certifications to operate the vehicle?
- Does the company regularly provide additional training to its drivers to ensure that they are driving safely?
- Does the company adequately supervise its drivers? Does it promptly respond to complaints concerning unsafe driving and take appropriate corrective action?
- Does the company encourage unsafe driving practices?
- Was the vehicle properly and regularly maintained?
The unfortunate reality in many commercial vehicle accidents is that the company values its profitability over your safety.
Truck Accident Laws & Regulations
If they violated the law, they should be held accountable.
Commercial vehicles are heavily regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This federal agency creates and enforces trucking regulations. When you are hit or rear-ended by a semi-truck, attorney David Fuchs will gather as much evidence as possible to determine what happened and why. He will scrutinize the cause of the accident to determine if one or more trucking laws have been violated. Evidence of a regulatory violation may be useful in proving the other party was negligent and is liable for your injuries.
There are many trucking regulations companies and truckers must follow, including:
- Hours of service regulations, which define how long a trucker can drive within a certain period.
- Intoxication regulations, which place the legal limit for a trucker’s blood-alcohol level at .04 percent – not the typical .08 percent.
- Load regulations, including the maximum size and weight of the vehicle with the cargo.
- Inspection regulations, including when and how often a truck driver must inspect the vehicle.
- Hiring regulations dictate that trucking companies cannot hire drivers with histories of DUIs, poor driving records, or other issues that make them unable to drive safely.
- Licensing regulations require that truck drivers have a valid commercial driver’s license and any additional endorsements necessary for specific types of trucks or cargo.
What is Considered a ‘Commercial Vehicle’ in Florida?
Commercial vehicles are generally defined as being used for business as opposed to private purposes. Florida Statute 320.01 (25), however, specifically defines a commercial vehicle as:
- Not being owned or operated by a government entity
- A vehicle that uses special fuel on public highways
- Has a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more
- Has three or more axles, regardless of weight
- When used in combination has a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more
This definition focuses almost exclusively on size and weight. The definition of a commercial vehicle listed in the Broward County Code is perhaps more helpful. It defines a commercial vehicle as “any vehicle designed, intended, or used for transportation of people, goods, or things, other than private passenger vehicles and recreational vehicles.”
Types of Commercial Vehicles Often Involved in Crashes
State includes several examples of commercial vehicles:
- Buses and vehicles designed to carry 10 or more people
- Dump trucks
- Tow trucks
- Utility vehicles
- Any vehicle with a business name displayed on it
Any of these commercial vehicles could become involved in a sudden crash, and our Fort Lauderdale team is here to help in the event of an accident.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
Most truck drivers are professionals who strive for safety, but many of them, especially long-distance truckers, often work long hours and are under enormous pressure from trucking companies to stay on schedule. This constant pressure can lead to stress, fatigue, and, ultimately, driving errors. Truck driver inexperience can also lead to judgment errors, as can improper training of drivers. All of these actions can, unfortunately, lead to devastating wrecks.
Alcohol and/or drug use by truck drivers or drivers of other vehicles can lead to crashes. Unlike the .08% alcohol limit for most drivers, the blood alcohol limit (BAC) for truckers is .04%.
Distracted driving is a deadly and prevalent driver habit. Despite being responsible for heavy and dangerous commercial vehicles, many truck drivers are guilty of distracted driving. In 2016, distracted driving took 3,450 lives, based on crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Distracted driving can describe eating, drinking, texting, making phone calls, chatting with passengers, personal grooming, looking at a map, or engaging in any other activity that distracts a driver’s attention from the road. Avoid distracted driving accidents by always paying attention to the road, and steering clear of truckers who appear distracted.
Speeding and Aggressive Driving
Due to their sheer size and weight, large trucks require a longer stopping distance than passenger vehicles. A tractor-trailer going 65 mph will take almost quite some time to stop, compared to about the average car going that speed. Semi-trucks that tailgate other vehicles are especially dangerous, because it takes them longer to stop.
Unsecured or Overloaded Cargo
Loading trucks in an unsafe manner can lead to the vehicles becoming unbalanced and cause tip overs and other accidents. Never drive too close behind a commercial truck’s trailer. Open flat-bed trucks carrying cargo such as logs can be extremely dangerous for following passenger vehicles. A lost load is a possibility if the cargo loaders did a poor job of securing the cargo to the bed of the truck. Closed-bed trucks may also lose their loads due to improper loading and overweight trucks.
Turning Truck Accidents
Large trucks and trailers can’t make sharp turns. Instead, they must bow outward, making a wide turn. A turning accident can occur if a passenger vehicle tries to pass a turning truck, or ends up trapped between the turning truck and the curb (in the driver’s No Zone). Avoid these collisions by watching for a large truck’s turn signals, and keeping your distance until the truck completes the maneuver. Never try to quickly pass a turning truck, or to sneak between the truck and the curb.
Parts Defects and Equipment Malfunctions
Big rigs rely on many different components, parts, and pieces of equipment to function safely and properly. The breakdown of just one piece of equipment could cause a fatal trucking accident. Tire blowouts, brake failure, rollovers, and lost loads are all common truck accident types that can stem from equipment failures or defects.
Although you may not have any power over how well a trucking company maintains its fleet vehicles, you can avoid these accidents by keeping your distance. Always keep enough room between yourself and a commercial truck to brake or maneuver away in the event of an equipment malfunction. The trucking company or part manufacturer may be liable for these types of accidents.
Violating Trucking Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has trucking regulations in place to make the industry safer. When these regulations are violated, either by trucking companies or drivers, accidents can happen. Regulations stipulate how many hours drivers can be behind the wheel within certain time periods, how often trucks must be inspected, how heavy a load trucks of specific sizes can carry, and what kind of licenses drivers need to operate different types of commercial trucks, and more.
Road Construction or Poorly-Designed Roads
Sometimes road construction and other road conditions cause dangers for trucks. Bad weather can also be a factor.
The dangerous actions of other drivers may cause large trucks to crash and potentially harm innocent drivers on the road. For example, a vehicle might cut a truck off, and because large trucks can’t maneuver quickly, the truck might swerve to avoid crashing with that vehicle and hit other vehicles on the road.
No Zone Accidents
All 18-wheelers have “No Zones,” or zones where no motorists should drive. No zones are blind spots in which the truck driver cannot see other drivers. The No Zone extends about 20 feet in front of the truck, 30 feet behind, one lane to its left and two lanes to its right. Do your best to stay out of a truck’s No Zone, to maximize your visibility to the driver. If you can’t see the truck driver’s face in his/her mirrors, the driver can’t see you. If you must drive in a No Zone, pass through as quickly as you can.
Fort Lauderdale Lawyer David Fuchs can assess the cause of any truck accident to prove who is responsible and help hold this party accountable through a civil claim.
Common Types of Truck Accidents
Attorney David Fuchs has handled a wide range of truck-related cases, including:
Delivery Truck Accidents
Whether you incurred injuries in a crash with a USPS, UPS, FedEx, or another type of delivery vehicle, call an attorney right away.
A tractor-trailer is a truck that is a combination of a semi-tractor – which holds the engine, and a trailer – which carries the cargo. This type of truck is also called a semi. If a semi-truck hit you, contact a tractor-trailer accident lawyer as soon as possible.
18-Wheeler Crashes & Tire Blowouts
An additional term for a conventional tractor-trailer/semi is an 18-wheeler. This name stems from the fact the vehicle has 18 tires – two under the tractor, eight wheels on the two axles of the tractor, and eight wheels on the two axles at the back of the trailer. Causes of this type of incident include jackknifing, a tire blowout, brake failure, truck driver negligence, or a part defect. An 18-wheeler accident lawyer will get to the bottom of the accident.
Truck Driver Operator Error
If a semi-truck hit your car, reach out to a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys as soon as possible. By hiring a semi-truck accident attorney, you have someone to take steps to preserve potentially important evidence, and to conduct a thorough and independent investigation.
Truck Employer Negligence
Many truck accidents are the fault and liability lie with the driver’s employer – the trucking company. Trucking companies have significant resources to spend on combating lawsuits and insurance claims. Don’t let them step on your rights in the name of profitability.
The trucking company is ultimately responsible for the safety of other drivers on Florida’s roadways. Many trucking accidents in Florida come down to acts of truck employer negligence, such as:
- Failing to conduct background checks before hiring drivers
- Hiring unfit, unsafe, or unqualified drivers
- Ignoring driver drug and alcohol testing requirements
- Maintaining inadequate new driver training procedures
- Pressuring drivers to meet deadlines, even if it means driving past hours-of-service regulations
- Offering bonuses to drivers who beat their deadlines
- Failing to properly maintain fleet trucks
- Disobeying truck inspection requirements
- Breaking cargo securement rules to save time or money
A truck employer will also be vicariously liable for the actions and behaviors of its truck drivers in many situations. Our dedicated Fort Lauderdale attorneys could help prove vicarious liability and keep a commercial vehicle accident claim on track.
Calculating Compensation for a Truck Accident in Fort Lauderdale
When you are injured in a trucking accident in Fort Lauderdale, an attorney from David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Depending on the circumstances, attorney Fuchs may pursue a claim with the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer and/or a lawsuit directly against the liable party.
Through this claim or lawsuit, you can seek compensation for your:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Reduced earning potential
If you were hit by a semi-truck, a settlement might be your best option. By working with an experienced attorney who will negotiate your settlement, you can have the funds you need to move forward in life months before a lawsuit would be resolved.
Before you rely on a truck accident settlement calculator available online, work with David Fuchs. It is impossible for anyone to give you a potential value for your claim without going through an in-depth investigation of your case.
Too many factors can influence your potential recovery. By hiring a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, you ensure you receive accurate information and experienced insights each step of truck accident claims process. Attorney Fuchs will work closely with you, your medical providers, and various experts to increase the value of your case, and to determine the best and worst-case scenarios for a settlement or jury award.
Liability in Crashes Where the Commercial Vehicle is Owned by the Employer
Employers can be held liable for related compensatory damages stemming from an employee’s acts while operating the company vehicle. Under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, the individual who causes a collision is not always the only individual who can be held responsible for the damages incurred. Courts can impose vicarious liability to those who permit others to operate their automobiles.
Who is at Fault for Accidents Involving Commercial Vehicles or Trucks in Florida?
Whenever an employee is operating a motor vehicle while within the scope of his or her employment, the employer can be held liable for the employee’s negligent acts — even if the employee is in his or her own vehicle.
Generally, employers will not be held liable for accidents caused by their employees if the employees are using their own (owned vehicles), are traveling to or from work, as that travel is not deemed to be within the scope of employment for purposes of holding an employer liable. This holds true even when the vehicle used by the employee is used for work but partially maintained by the employer (meaning the employer pays for related licenses, tires, gas and contributes to maintenance costs). Otherwise, the employer is likely liable for the accident.
We Will Determine What Caused Your Semi-Truck Accident
We know someone else is to blame, and we will hold them accountable. It’s important to find out what caused your truck accident. Once we determine a cause, we can figure out who is at fault and should be held financially accountable.
Fatal Truck Accident Claims
We will compassionately listen to your story and get you what you need.
Attorney Fuchs also represents families of those lost in trucking accidents. He will explain Florida’s wrongful death law, whether you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, and if so, the potential compensation you are and your loved ones may receive.
Your loved one’s estate and the surviving family members may have the right to compensation for:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Future earnings
- Lost support and services
- Lost companionship and protection
- Lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance
- Mental pain and suffering
Losing a loved one to a commercial vehicle accident is a traumatic experience, but our compassionate lawyers in Fort Lauderdale are here to help.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Claim After a Truck Accident in Ft. Lauderdale?
Injured individuals have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit or settle their claim for injury. If they fail to file or settle within that timeframe, they may forever lose their rights to seek compensation for their injuries and other damages. That said, just about any personal injury lawyer will tell you that it is best to file a claim as soon as possible after an accident to ensure your rights are preserved.
Who Might Be Held Responsible for the Damages Sustained in My Truck Accident?
When it comes to truck accidents, there may be several individuals or entities that may be found legally responsible for the injuries and property damage sustained. For instance, depending on the circumstances of the case, the trucker, his or her trucking company and even the manufacturer of a faulty part might be held responsible for the accident. This is why it is important to work with a skilled attorney who can review the facts of the case, gather the appropriate evidence and ensure that all possible parties are held accountable for the accident.
Our Ft. Lauderdale Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help
After a serious trucking accident in Florida that leaves you injured or mourning the loss of a loved one, call attorney David Fuchs as soon as possible. By hiring a semi-truck accident lawyer right away, you have someone to guide you in obtaining appropriate medical care and preserving your rights for a truck accident claim. An attorney will gather evidence to support your claim for compensation, and will fight hard to obtain you the financial recovery you deserve.
To talk with a Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney, contact David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. online to schedule a consultation.
If you cannot come to the Fort Lauderdale office, accident attorney David I. Fuchs will send a representative to see you. His staff speaks English and Spanish.
David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. – Fort Lauderdale Office
8 SE 8th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
P: (954) 459-3755