Nobody ever expects to be in an accident. Sure, we know the statistics and the dangers that exist on the road, but an accident has a way of taking you by surprise. This is particularly true for accidents involving large trucks.
A truck accident can be a life-changing event. Large trucks are different than smaller vehicles. Medium to large trucks weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds, double the weight of an average motor vehicle. Tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded with cargo. They utilize different driving mechanisms and carry a tremendous amount of power. The massive size and weight of a large truck cause incredible amounts of property damage and catastrophic injuries more likely to lead to death. When truck accidents occur, those in passenger vehicles often do not walk away from the accident.
As such, a collision with a semi-truck can have catastrophic consequences. Any time you are in an accident, it’s important to understand your rights. As an accident victim, the law allows you to pursue certain compensation for damages in civil court of the accident was a result of negligence with the assistance of a Fort Myers truck accident lawyer. An experienced truck accident attorney can help defend your legal rights.
The Fort Myers personal injury lawyers from Viles & Beckman are here to help you through the difficult aftermath of a truck accident. Contact us at 239-230-4794 for a free case review to determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances.
Why Hire Viles & Beckman?
The skilled attorneys at Viles & Beckman have served as advocates for the injured since 1995. Their continued dedication to advocacy, coupled with their strong negotiation, settlement, and litigation skills have resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars in damages for their clients. Viles & Beckman’s lawyers are committed to pursuing the best possible outcome for every case. It’s impossible to guarantee results because every case has distinctive characteristics, but we will aggressively seek justice to hold liable parties accountable for their actions.
Types of Truck Accidents
Many different types of truck accidents can lead to severe injury or death. Common types of truck accidents on Florida roads include:
- Head-on crashes. When a motor vehicle collides with a truck head-on, injuries are often severe or deadly, especially at high speeds. Head-on collisions can occur when a truck driver loses control of a truck and swerves into oncoming traffic. A driver might lose control of his truck if he is drowsy, driving under the influence, or distracted. Mechanical failure and several other reasons can also lead to loss of control.
- Rear-end crashes. Large trucks require more time and distance to react to cars in front of them. If a trucker is following a vehicle too closely, a rear-end collision is likely if the vehicle suddenly stops. Rear-end collisions at high speeds can total a vehicle and cause severe injuries to passengers and drivers.
- T-bone accidents. Sometimes referred to as broadside crashes when on the passenger side of a vehicle, t-bone collisions typically occur at an intersection. When distracted or aggressive truck drivers run a traffic signal or stop sign, they can crash into a vehicle as it travels through the intersection. These types of accidents are not as common with large trucks as other types of crashes.
- Jackknifes. Semi-truck drivers who are heavy on the brakes during traffic or rainy weather can cause their trailer to skid, making a V-shape with the cab. Divided highways and interstates might protect other motorists from a collision when a jackknife occurs; however, a jackknifed semi often puts other vehicles at risk of collision. In some cases, a multi-vehicle pileup can occur.
- Rollovers accidents. Truck drivers often walk away unscathed from accidents, except when a rollover occurs. These dangerous accidents are often a result of a trucker losing control of the truck for a variety of reasons. Rollovers put other drivers at risk for collision, and also might lead to a multi-vehicle accident.
- Underride collisions. This is an extreme type of rear-end crash which occurs when a vehicle gets lodged under the back of a trailer. Trucks who stop suddenly to avoid something in the road or because of traffic, might be rear-ended by a distracted driver who might be tailgating. Smaller vehicles get stuck and ‘ride under’ the trailer until they break away or the driver realizes what has happened. Most underride collisions are fatal.
- Spilled cargo accidents. Trucking companies and truck drivers must load trucks carefully and secure each load for travel. When cargo isn’t properly secured on open trailers, it can spill all over the road. Trucks which have been overloaded can also roll over and spill because of instability, potentially causing deadly multi-car accident.
Truck Accidents Result in Severe Injuries
Truck accidents cause the same types of injuries as any other traffic collision, but the extra weight and size create a more forceful impact when a collision occurs. This results in more severe injuries, some of which can be catastrophic or deadly. Injuries which an individual might sustain in a truck accident include:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Lacerations and other deep cuts which can cause permanent scarring
- Head traumas including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) which cause lifelong complications
- Neck injuries such as whiplash and other soft tissue injuries
- Back injuries such as broken vertebrae and bulged discs
- Spinal cord injuries which can cause partial or full paralysis for life
- Internal bleeding and damage to vital organs from broken ribs or impact
- Crushed limbs which might require amputation
- Severe burns in the event of a fire or explosion
Commercial Vehicle Crash Statistics Reported in the Fort Myers Area
Accidents involving large trucks happen more often than we’d like to believe. In the year for which the most recent statistics are available, there were just under 32,000 accidents involving large trucks in Florida.Source:
Truck Accidents Have Multiple Causes
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the primary federal agency tasked with regulating and overseeing the safety of commercial motor vehicles, including trucks.
Truck accidents might be a result of many different scenarios, but the FMCSA reports the following violations as common driver-related causes for truck accidents:
- Driving under the influence isn’t as common as other causes of truck accidents, but it does happen. Truck drivers have demanding schedules requiring them to make deliveries and pick-ups all times of the day. In addition to long hours, drivers must deal with the stress of traffic and responsibility of driving a large commercial vehicle. Some drivers use drugs or alcohol to allow them to driver longer or to deal with their tough jobs. Drugs and alcohol impair reaction time for truck drivers, which can lead to severe accidents with injuries and fatalities.
- Drowsy driving is also an artifact of truckers’ demanding schedules and long hours. Drivers have mandatory hours of rest, but it doesn’t always mean they get the sleep they need. The FMCSA reports drivers who haven’t slept in 18 hours have the same level of impairment as a driver with a 0.08 breath alcohol level. Drivers who might fall asleep at the wheel put other drivers at risk for accident and injury.
- Distracted driving includes any activity which takes a driver’s focus away from driving, including taking hands off of the wheel, eyes off of the road, or mind away from driving. Some common distractions include cell phone use, GPS programming, eating and drinking, reaching for something, watching events outside of the vehicle, and day-dreaming. Most distractions are not illegal, but truck drivers who use a cell phone outside of hands-free operation are breaking federal law.
- Speeding in large trucks can lead to deadly traffic collisions. In fact, the FMSCA reports about one-third of all fatal truck crashes involve speeding. When truck drivers speed or travel too fast for conditions, they cannot control their truck as easily, making it more difficult to stop and maneuver. Inclement weather conditions including high winds and rain can exacerbate the danger of speeding.
- Tailgating, like speeding, often occurs because of the high pressure schedules of truck drivers. Motor vehicle drivers should leave a two-second gap between vehicles, but trucks need more space and time to stop and slow down. The FMSCA recommends a minimum four-second gap for trucks, and when driving in inclement weather truck drivers might have to leave up to an eight-second gap to avoid a rear-end collision with the vehicle ahead of them.
- Failure to yield to other motorists can result in a dangerous truck accident. Drivers might not yield because they don’t have the space or time, they might be distracted, or the vehicle might be in blind spots. Trucks have large blind spots on all sides, so drivers must clear them before maneuvering.
- Failure to obey traffic signs and signals is not something truckers typically do on purpose. Yet, those who are distracted by cell phones or other things might easily run a stoplight or stop sign and cause a severe and potentially fatal accident.
Liable Parties in Florida Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are complex cases often including additional parties besides the driver. If you sue for damages, you might name one or more of the following parties in your suit:
- Drivers who violate traffic laws such as driving under the influence, driving while distracted or drowsy, or who make other careless choices while driving a truck might be liable for a truck accident.
- Truck owners or trucking companies might be partially or wholly liable for a truck accident depending on the circumstances. Trucking companies who poorly maintain trucks, force drivers to ‘run hot,’ or don’t properly train their drivers might be liable for a truck accident.
- Other motorists who ride in a truck’s blind spot or violate traffic regulations might also cause a truck accident if their careless driving choices cause a trucker to lose control of his truck.
- Truck manufacturers and truck part manufacturers can be held liable for a truck accident if a defective part causes a mechanical failure which leads to an accident and injury. When a defective truck or truck part causes an accident, any party responsible for the design, manufacturing, or sale of a truck, can be held liable depending on the specific defect.
- The state of Florida, Lee County, or the city of Fort Myers might be liable for a truck accident caused by poorly maintained highways or roads, bad road design, or broken traffic signals.
Seeking Compensation After a Truck Accident in Fort Myers
If you were harmed or lost a loved one in a Fort Myers truck accident, Florida law entitles you to sue for damages to recover losses you have incurred as a result of injury or death. Specific settlements and verdicts vary based on the circumstances of the accident, the severity of an injury, and the amount of financial loss. You might be able to recover the following damages in a settlement or from court-awarded damages:
- Medical treatment costs for ambulance, emergency room visit, hospitalization, surgery, radiology, lab tests, prescriptions, and aftercare
- Future medical treatment costs when a severe injury requires extensive recovery or results in a permanent disability requiring lifelong care
- Rehabilitation costs for physical therapist visits and treatment from other specialists
- Cost of assistive devices such as crutches, walkers, canes, wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs
- Lost wages for missing work due to hospitalization and recovery
- Lost future wages when an injury prevents someone from returning to their job
- Non-economic damages such as loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and others which might apply to a particular case
- Punitive damages in cases of intentional harm or gross negligence
If you have lost a family member in a truck accident, you might be eligible for compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit depending on your relationship to the deceased. An experienced truck accident attorney from Viles & Beckman can advise you on the best course of action for you and your family. If you prevail in a wrongful death suit, you might recover some of the previously listed damages in addition to burial and funeral expenses.
For a free case review with a truck accident attorney in our office, please contact us online or call (239) 230-4794 right away.