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Trucking Accidents

Trucking Accidents


Because the trucking industry is a significant part of Florida’s economy, trucks are routinely seen on our roadways. When commercial trucks, often known as semis or tractor-trailers, are involved in an accident, the results can be devastating, due to the fact that such accidents usually involve vehicles of two significantly different types and sizes. Most trucking accidents occur at high speeds and on the highway, but even those which occur at low speeds can be disastrous. Passenger vehicles are often destroyed, and victims can suffer severe and permanent injuries. In some cases, victims are killed. When a trucking accident occurs, occupants of passenger cars and small trucks have a much higher fatality rate than occupants of large commercial trucks.

Collisions caused by a trucker’s negligence can lead to the most catastrophic injuries on the road. Negligence generally falls into two categories: driver error and vehicle maintenance failure. The most common cause of driver error is fatigue, which can cause poor judgment, drowsiness, and falling asleep at the wheel. Driver error can also be due to inexperience, improper training, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you have been involved in an accident, it is imperative that you take certain steps.

  • Do not leave the accident scene.
  • Immediately check for injuries. The safety of injured parties should always be the first concern after an accident occurs. Always make certain that the medical needs of injured individuals are addressed right away. If your injuries are serious or require immediate attention, you should go to the emergency room for care. If not, consult your physician after the accident so that you can be examined. Be certain that all of your medical concerns and complaints are addressed and documented.
  • Assess the accident scene. Take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
  • Call 911. Always contact the police after an accident, even if the accident seems minor. This will allow for an investigation to be conducted at the scene. When the police respond, they will prepare a report documenting what happened, which will provide necessary proof that the accident occurred. Make a record of the date of the accident and the name of the law enforcement agency that responded to, and investigated, your accident.
  • Gather the following necessary information from all drivers and passengers involved in the accident: the make, model, vehicle information number, and license plate number of all vehicles, as well as the insurance information of everyone involved.
  • Record what happened during the accident to present to your attorney in case you pursue legal action. Gather the names, addresses, and phone numbers of everyone at the scene who may have witnessed the accident so that your attorney can contact them while preparing your case.
  • Take photographs of your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, skid marks, the accident scene, any existing road dangers, and weather conditions at the time of the accident, etc.
  • Do not apologize or admit fault to anyone.
  • Contact your insurance company. When you speak to your insurance company, they will want to obtain basic information about the accident for their records, and you will be asked about the details of the accident. If you were injured or if you have concerns about insurance coverage, you should consult an attorney. You may also be asked to make a recorded statement which may be used later. You do not have to consent to the recording, and, in most instances, it is best that you not allow your statement to be recorded. Always consult the advice of an experienced automobile accident attorney before you allow your conversation to be recorded.Do not speak to the other driver’s insurance company without first contacting an experienced personal injury attorney. You may unwittingly provide information which could be used against you and could result in the denial or reduction of compensation. For this reason, do not make any type of statement or sign any documents without first consulting an attorney.
  • Contact an experienced trucking accident attorney. The experienced attorneys at Rice will insure that you understand your legal rights and will work diligently to safeguard your interests.
  • Take your vehicle to a reputable body shop for repair estimates.
  • Compile medical records. If you sought and received medical treatment as a result of a trucking accident, keep a record of the doctors who treated you, as well as the time and place of treatment. If you went to the hospital for treatment, document how you were transported. Collect documentation of any relevant medical history to present to your attorney.
  • Record lost time from work. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you may be unable to work. Record all dates and time that you are absent from work. Your attorney will need your employer’s name, your job title, pay rate or salary, and the amount of time missed from work. You may also need to obtain documentation of past earnings to prove lost earnings.

A driver of a large commercial truck is considered to have an even greater standard of care than other drivers because of the unique danger that such trucks pose and because of the catastrophic injuries that they can cause. For example, federal regulations limit the number of hours that a truck driver may drive without interruption. Accordingly, drivers are required to keep a record of their work and rest periods for the previous week. In addition, truck drivers must inspect their trucks and report any problems. Drivers may not operate a vehicle that is in bad condition. Drivers are subject to drug tests and background checks and must undergo ongoing training, as well as instruction in loading/unloading.

Truck drivers are also subject to certain requirements after an accident occurs. The driver must provide proof of insurance and must cooperate with law enforcement. He or she must also allow the authorities to investigate whether there was compliance with all of the aforementioned trucking-specific regulations. These are complex issues which should be examined by an experienced trucking accident attorney. At Rice, we will demand access to the trucker’s records to determine whether there was proper compliance with trucking regulations. We will gather the necessary evidence, interview the appropriate witnesses and experts, and file claims against the parties responsible for the accident.

Because truck accident lawsuits are often far more complex than other vehicle accidents, it is imperative to immediately consult with an experienced trucking accident attorney who will protect your interests. Trucking litigation involves claims against negligent truck drivers and the companies who hire them. When a trucking accident occurs, there are many parties that may share liability. These entities include the truck driver, the trucking company that owns the vehicle, the truck loading company, road authorities, and the manufacturers of the truck and its parts. Determining who the defendant or defendants will be in a trucking accident action can be a very difficult and complex process and is dependent on the circumstances of each individual case.

Trucking companies and insurance adjusters realize the potential for major lawsuits when a truck accident occurs. Immediately after a trucking accident, they quickly gather evidence and experts so that they can begin preparing their case right away. In addition, federal law permits trucking companies to destroy vital records within a fairly short time. By contacting a trucking accident attorney immediately after an accident, crucial evidence can be preserved for litigation. Trucking accident claims require a review of medical records, along with the records of both the trucking company and the driver. Statements must also be gathered from all witnesses, all drivers, vehicle owners, and the trucking company. An experienced trucking accident attorney can help you through all stages of the claim process.

The personal injury attorneys at Rice have extensive experience in truck accident litigation. If you have been involved in a trucking accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, future earnings, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and loss of enjoyment of life. Contact us today for your free consultation. We will help you throughout every stage of the complex and difficult legal process while seeking financial compensation for your losses.

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