Insurance Issues Following a Truck Accident in Florida
A significant percentage of the goods transported across the United States travel by truck. This means that every day, we share the roadways with millions of commercial vehicles.
If you or a loved one incurred injuries in a truck accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to a highly-skilled Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer at David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A.. Attorney David Fuchs will determine whether any trucking violations occurred, and will fight to hold the liable party accountable for your damages. To schedule a free, initial consultation of your case, reach out through the online form.
How Are Accidents with Trucks Different Than Regular Car Crashes?
Bigger Trucks=More Serious Injuries
One of the biggest differences between car crashes and those involving commercial vehicles is the injuries they can cause. When a large vehicle collides with a small car, the results can be devastating. Victims of accidents involving commercial vehicles can be permanently disabled, requiring a lifetime of care. Even injuries that aren’t permanently disabling can require intense medical intervention.
For the same reason, property damage in crashes involving commercial vehicle is also greater. There is a far greater likelihood of total property loss, which means you’ll be out a car until insurance companies work out who’s responsible.
Stricter Regulations on Trucks than Cars
Truck accident claims can also be tricky because commercial vehicles are governed by the regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This governmental organization sets certain rules regarding time traveled, breaks, and other considerations that keep drivers (and others on the road) healthy and safe. If an accident results from a violation of one of these rules, the FMCSA will investigate. This means more bureaucratic red tape and more time. This also means it can take longer to determine who is liable for a truck accident.
Passengers often sustain more serious injuries in crashes involving commercial trucks. As a result, their medical bills are often higher. Surgeries, imaging, and diagnostic tests can easily run into the tens of thousands or more. This can turn into many missed workdays and the prospect of lost wages, which can seriously impact your financial well-being.
More Parties Involved in Liability Issues
One of the difficulties of determining liability in a trucking accident is the sheer number of parties who might be at fault. While driver error is the most common cause of trucking accidents, there are a number of other parties who could be responsible. For example, the trucker’s employer may be responsible for putting too much pressure on making deliveries within a designated time frame. They may also be responsible for failing to maintain the truck properly. An independent company may be at fault if the accident was caused by improper loading, while the manufacturer of the vehicle may be responsible if a dangerous malfunction contributed to the accident. For these reasons and more, determining liability in a truck accident can take a long time.
What Should You Do if the Drivers Insurance Tries to Blame You for the Accident?
If you’re the victim of a truck accident, it may be obvious to you that the truck driver was at fault. That’s why it’s so shocking to hear that the driver is blaming you for the crash. If this has happened to you, understand that the driver’s claims may prevent you from seeking compensation for your injuries. You need to fight back and protect your future.
Understand What You’re Up Against
Truck accidents are different from car accidents in that trucking companies are corporate entities. This often adds an extra layer of complexity to the claim. The corporation is set up specifically to protect against claims, and the company may be structured in such a way as to make it difficult to figure out who is ultimately responsible. For example, the driver may be an independent contractor.
The trucking company is also subject to state and federal regulations that govern their drivers and trucks. If they failed to comply with those regulations and it caused the accident, they may be attempting to avoid liability by aggressively blaming you for the crash.
Finally, you can be sure that the trucking company will be represented by legal counsel from the very outset. They may not be the primary point of contact, but they are likely already giving the company advice as to how to proceed from behind the scenes.
Build Your Case
Truck accidents are overwhelming, especially when you’re injured and trying to focus on your recovery. However, the days following the wreck are critical to your claim. To successfully recover compensation, you want to do the following:
- Keep copies of all invoices, receipts, and other records that document your expenses related to the accident
- Obtain a copy of the accident report from the police
- Get statements from witnesses to the crash
- Keep copies of all of your medical records that document your injuries that were caused by the accident
- Track any lost wages or other income
- Write down everything you remember about the accident and how it occurred
Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Hiring a truck accident attorney is probably the best thing you can do to protect yourself against false accusations. Your lawyer can not only handle the legal aspects of your case, but also help you document your claim as described above. They can speak on your behalf, investigate the accident, and fight for the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your recovery instead of fighting with the trucking company.
How to Prove Trucking Violations After an Accident
Truck drivers must adhere to specific laws and regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to keep themselves as well as other motorists safe. Unfortunately, some truckers disregard these rules and cause serious accidents and injuries.
Check Logbooks for Hours of Service Violations
Since truck driver fatigue is a common problem that can lead to tragic accidents, the FMCSA has placed limits on the number of hours truckers can drive. To prove they are being compliant and avoid serious penalties, truck drivers must track their hours of service. In the past, truckers were allowed to record their hours manually. Recently, however, the industry has moved away from paper logbooks and transitioned mostly to digital recordkeeping, which is more difficult to falsify.
After a truck accident, a lawyer can thoroughly investigate the trucker’s logbooks to find out whether they were driving more hours than they were legally permitted to.
Review Maintenance Records
Trucks are larger and heavier than cars. Therefore, operating them safely can be a challenge. Fortunately, trucks are equipped with a variety of safety features that make it easier and safer to drive them. When these safety features are malfunctioning, or a truck hasn’t been maintained in quite some time, the risk of an accident increases.
Due to the fact that trucking companies are required to keep records of their safety inspections and maintenance, a lawyer can determine whether or not maintenance violations contributed to your crash.
Look for Negligent Hiring or Training
Driving a commercial truck is not the same as driving a passenger car or SUV. It takes experience and training to truly understand how to operate a truck safely. For this reason, the FMCSA has created strict rules on who can drive a truck. For instance, before driving a truck, an individual must pass a vision and health exam, earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and complete the appropriate exams as required by the state.
Sadly, some trucking companies ignore these hiring and training regulations and allow those with certain medical conditions or minimal-to-no experience drive. A lawyer can take a close look at the trucker’s personal documents to figure out if any regulatory violations arose.
Evaluate Loading Procedures
Improper loading is a common cause of truck accidents. A poorly loaded truck can easily become unbalanced and make it tough for a driver to handle and stop the vehicle in a safe manner. Since there are federal rules that indicate how a truck must be loaded, a lawyer can evaluate loading procedures and find out whether these rules were broken.
Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A.
No one plans to get into a truck accident. You could be driving down the street when all of a sudden you collide with an 18-wheeler. The reality is that these accidents occur. It’s important to know, however, that you have legal options.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck accident, it is in your best interest to reach out to the David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. right away. With years of experience handling these types of cases, attorney Fuchs is prepared to out his knowledge of FMCSA regulations to good use for you.
Reach out to schedule a free evaluation of your case.