Tampa Truck Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one recently suffered in a truck accident in the Tampa Bay area, come to Williams Law, P.A. for experienced Tampa personal injury attorneys. We can help you discover your options and get the compensation you need for your truck crash injuries. Large truck accidents are some of the most serious that occur on Florida’s highways. In a truck accident, the risk of injury is highest for the passengers in the smaller vehicle. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there was 41,088 commercial vehicle crashes in Florida in 2016. Many of these crashes seriously injured and even killed victims.
- How can a Tampa truck accident lawyer help?
- How do truck accidents and insurance claims work in Florida?
- What are trucking company’s liabilities for truck accidents?
- Federal and State truck driver regulations
- What causes truck accidents?
- How to hire a Tampa truck accidents attorney
How Can a Tampa Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
After you’re involved in a truck accident, you should avoid speaking with the other party’s attorneys or insurance until you have contacted an attorney. This is especially true if injuries were sustained in the crash. It’s in your best interest to wait until you have a qualified attorney on your side.
It’s important for truck accident victims to remember that it is the insurance adjuster’s job to minimize payouts for their clients. They want to speak to you and find anything they can to show fault on your end, and pay you less than you are owed. Making statements that seem innocent can be twisted around to place blame on you.
Truck accidents lawyers can help victims with:
- Speaking to authorities and insurance companies
- Investigating the accident
- Filing a lawsuit
- Representation in court
Truck Accidents and Insurance Claims in Florida
Florida is a no-fault car insurance state. This means people involved in truck accidents must seek compensation from their own insurance companies first. While this system can be helpful to the party that caused the accident, it can mean smaller compensation amounts for innocent victims than they could receive through a Tampa personal injury claim. The no-fault system bars accident victims from pursuing claims outside of the no-fault insurance system unless there are certain circumstances involved:
- The crash resulted in permanent injuries.
- The victim suffered scarring or disfigurement.
- The crash results in significant and permanent loss of important bodily functions.
If your truck accident did not involve one of these things, you can still use a truck accident attorney’s help for settlement negotiations with your insurance company. Insurers may try to offer you a smaller amount than your case is worth or deny your claim altogether. Our lawyers can help you go up against insurance companies. If your accident-related injuries do qualify for filing a claim outside of the no-fault system, you have the opportunity to seek greater recovery through a personal injury lawsuit.
A personal injury claim can lead to full recovery for your accident-related harms, including all medical costs, lost wages from missed time at work, physical pain, and emotional suffering. Coverage from your insurance company won’t give you the same degree of compensation. Speak to our attorneys to discuss whether you have the ability to file outside of the insurance system.
Trucking Company Liability for Accidents
There was a time when trucking companies could often escape liability for accidents by leasing its trucks and using independent contractors instead of employees. If the company didn’t own the trucks or employ the drivers, it couldn’t be legally responsible for most crashes. Several years ago, however, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put a stop to truck employers escaping liability. Now, a trucking company can be liable for any accident involving its trucks or drivers regardless of ownership or employment status.
Similar to a regular employer, a trucking company will be vicariously liable for the actions and behaviors of its commercial truck drivers. As long as the truck driver was on-duty at the time of the collision, accident victims can likely pursue damages from the trucking company and not just the individual driver. Victims may be able to file claims against the trucking company for driver negligence, distraction, recklessness, or broken traffic law that causes a damaging accident. Claims against the trucking company can often result in larger settlements and verdicts, as the company carries insurance to pay damages.
Florida courts may also hold a trucking company liable for an accident if the company itself was negligent in some way that caused a crash. Trucking companies have to obey many strict FMCSA regulations in terms of daily protocols and companywide procedures. This includes various hiring, training, and retention laws. If a trucking company negligently fails to conduct a background check, properly train drivers, or maintain other safety standards in operation, the company might be accountable for resultant truck accidents.
In the state of Florida, more than one party can be held accountable for a truck accident. These parties may include:
- Truck driver
- Truck driver’s employer
- Owner of the truck
- Parent company of the trucking company
- Truck or truck part manufacturer
- Truck maintenance company
- Third party involved in the accident
- City or town in which the accident occurred
Federal and State Truck Driver Regulations
With so many truck accidents in Florida stemming from truck driver negligence, it’s worthwhile to examine exactly what truckers should and should not be doing in accordance with state and federal driver regulations. Hundreds of laws exist to reduce the risk of driver-related accidents in the commercial trucking industry, outlining almost every aspect of a trucker’s average day. Breaking any of these rules could put the trucker in danger of causing a traffic accident. Some of the most important driver regulations from the FMCSA and state lawmakers are as follows:
Commercial truck drivers in the state of Colorado cannot surpass the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.04% – half the legal limit for other drivers. Colorado is a zero-tolerance state in terms of truck driver drug use.
Federal hours of service (HOS) laws make it against the law for truckers to drive longer than 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours, and no longer than 14 consecutive hours in a day. Truckers must take half-hour rest breaks every eight hours.
The FMCSA is strict in terms of how trucking companies and their staff members load and secure cargo on goods-carrying trucks. Securement differs according to the type of material transported.
Use of E.L.D.
Federal laws require all truck drivers to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) in their cabs to record truck and driver information, including the sleeping habits of the driver and the performance of the truck.
An investigation of a trucking accident, using evidence from ELDs or black boxes, could expose a truck driver for negligence in failing to keep up with federal or state laws. Broken laws that cause accidents can come down to driver – and often, trucking company – liability for victims’ damages. To learn more about whether a driver broke a law in reference to your recent truck accident, contact our Tampa attorneys today.
What Causes Tampa Truck Accidents?
Truck drivers and trucking companies must obey stringent laws under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These laws include hours of service regulations, cargo loading rules, and vehicle weight limits. Breaking any of the many laws under the FMCSA, resulting in a truck accident, is an act of negligence. Common examples of negligence that cause truck accidents include:
- Driving under the influence
- Drowsy driving
- Driving over the hours of service limit
- Incompetent driver
- Poor truck maintenance
- Defective vehicle part
- Improper/unsafe cargo loading
Are You Eligible For Compensation for Your Truck Accident Injury?
At Williams Law, P.A., we understand the federal, state, and local laws regarding the trucking industry. We can investigate an accident and gain access to the truck’s electronic logging device which will show data such as the driver’s schedule and driving patterns. With this information, we may be able to prove the driver or the company did something that qualifies as negligence or recklessness.
In some situations, the trucking company may be liable for the actions of its drivers. In the past, trucking companies avoided this liability by hiring independent contractors instead of employees, and renting instead of owning the trucks. A few years ago, however, the federal courts put an end to this “loophole” and made all trucking companies responsible for accidents involving their trucks and drivers. If you were in a truck accident, speak to our truck accident lawyers to find out if you have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the driver, the company, and/or a third party outside of the no-fault system. Contact us or a free consultation in the Tampa Bay area.