Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers in Sarasota, Florida
Crashes involving commercial semi-trucks or tractor-trailers often lead to severe physical and psychological injuries. These commercial truck collisions are usually of catastrophic proportions, leaving victims with a strenuous recovery process, emotional and mental distress, and confusion navigating the complicated insurance claim process. An experienced truck accident attorney can ease your burdens by helping you successfully navigate the complexities of your case and winning you the rightful settlement, or verdict, you deserve.
If you have been injured by a collision with a semi-truck or another commercial vehicle, contact the experienced truck accident injury attorneys at Matthews Injury Law to schedule a free consultation.
Truck Accident Cases We’ve Won
- Wrongful Death, Spinal Cord Injury, Truck / Work Zone Crash – $11,000,000 (Verdict)
- Truck Crash / Cervical (Neck), TMJ, Brain Injuries – $2,350,000 (Settlement)
- Truck Crash / Cervical (Neck), Lumbar (Lower Back), Brain Injuries – $1,375,000 (Settlement)
*Each case is different. Past outcomes are not indicative of future results. Please contact us for more information about what your case might be worth.
Top Causes of Florida Truck Accidents
Commercial trucks can weigh anywhere from 20 to 40 times the amount of typical passenger vehicles. Size alone poses an increased risk on the road from semi-trucks and potentially devastating consequences from a crash. There are a variety of factors that could cause a commercial truck accident, either independently or in combination with one another.
- Mechanical Failure — If a routine inspection is skipped or maintenance repairs are delayed on a commercial vehicle, a mechanical failure of any magnitude can have serious repercussions for other drivers. Even mechanical failures as minor as a burnt-out brake light can lead to an accident.
- Brake Failure — Given the size of commercial trucks, braking is not easy. Truck drivers need to be attentive when decreasing speed and understand all the factors that can affect proper braking. This includes ensuring that the truck does not exceed weight limitations and that brakes are inspected regularly. Florida’s slick roads during rainstorms are another risk factor for braking.
- Traffic Flow Interruption — Commercial truck drivers should be trained to handle adverse conditions on the road, but poor decisions may be made despite training and contribute to accidents. Rush hour backups, lane closures, and other traffic flow interruptions often contribute to the cause of truck accidents with pedestrian vehicles. Such traffic accidents are common in large cities like Tampa or Sarasota, but they can also happen in Florida’s rural towns.
- Truck Driver Intoxication — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict laws regarding the use of drugs, alcohol, and other substances that may impair a truck driver’s ability to operate their vehicle. Although trucking companies and the FMCSA share some responsibility in administering random drug and alcohol testing, it is the responsibility of the driver to adhere to these rules.
- Truck Driver Fatigue — Even though there are enforced limits on how many hours truck drivers are supposed to work each day, drivers may bypass those rules to make up for delays on their route. Operating a commercial vehicle under fatigued conditions can be just as problematic as driving under the influence, which is why federal regulations prohibit commercial truck drivers to drive when fatigued or ill, as this can have a negative impact on their ability to properly operate their vehicle.
Determining Liability in Truck Accident Cases
If the driver in a personal vehicle causes an auto accident that harms you or your property, they become the defendant to pursue for your damages, together with the trucking company. However, because trucking accidents are complicated by other factors, it is more difficult to determine liability and therefore important to prepare your case correctly from the outset.
Potentially liable parties in truck accidents include:
- The Driver — The individual driving the semi-truck involved in the accident.
- The Truck’s Owner — If the driver is an independent contractor, the lease for the commercial truck may be under their name. Other times, the lease may be under the trucking company or another individual.
- The Trucking Company — In many cases, the trucking company will be the driver’s employer. The relationship between the trucking company and driver may vary depending on whether they are a W-2 or contracted employee.
- The Truck Manufacturer — If there was mechanical or electrical vehicle failure, despite regular inspection and maintenance, liability could fall on the manufacturer of the commercial truck.
- Third-Party Contractors — If the truck was hauling cargo or supplies during the time of the accident, third-party contractors like cargo and shipping companies could be liable, especially if the weight of cargo the truck was hauling exceeds the recommended limit.
While all of the parties above may be separate individuals, there are some truck accident cases where all or a combination of liable parties may be the same person or company. To get a full understanding of who is liable for what, an experienced truck accident attorney will request to obtain and review the driver’s contract with the trucking company.
Types of Truck Accident Damages
In Florida, there are two types of damages that a victim of a truck accident injury may be entitled to economic damages and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages (Chapter 768 Section 81) pertain to past and future medical care costs, any past or future lost work wages, medical expenses, the replacement value of personal property, and funeral expenses.
- Non-economic damages (Chapter 766 Section 118)consist of any indirect non-financial losses that can be tied to the truck accident injury. This includes mental and emotional anguish, inconvenience. physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
Certain requirements may need to be met to pursue some of these damages. For example, when it comes to claiming medical damages, it’s important to act in a timely manner. The Florida PIP 14-day rule requires any injured victims to seek medical care within 14 days of the accident to receive up to $10,000 in medical and disability benefits and up to $5,000 in death benefits.
Measuring Pain and Suffering for Injury Claims
When it comes to measuring pain and suffering after a semi-truck accident, this is where the diligence of an experienced truck accident injury attorney will benefit your case. Damages for pain and suffering can be difficult to quantify for vehicle crashes (or any personal injury) because there is no universal standard of measurement for pain and suffering, and it is a very personal, subjective experience.
In the state of Florida, there are generally no limitations on damages for pain and suffering. Most passenger auto accidents are not as severe as commercial truck accidents, and victims who have suffered severe injuries from an auto accident or a truck crash are able to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering damages.
How Truck Accident Cases Work
Filing for a truck accident injury claim is a daunting undertaking compared to a car accident claim. In addition to trying to recover from a serious injury, many victims of truck accidents struggle with the increasing amount of medical expenses, temporary loss of income, and difficult, unhelpful insurance adjusters. We advise accident victims to not settle for less than what the law entitles you to, and to instead fight back by filing a case with an experienced team of truck accident attorneys at your side.
There are many steps to a truck accident injury case that your lawyer can handle for you. Some or all of the steps outlined below are essential to your case winning a successful verdict.
- Discovery and Investigation: First, your attorney researches and gathers all evidence that can support you in your truck accident injury case. There are numerous pieces of evidence that need to be collected in this stage of the process, like the truck driver’s qualification file, the truck’s maintenance file, all available photos and video footage of the accident scene, and more.
- Preservation Letter: During the beginning stages of a truck accident injury case, it’s important to send a letter to the truck driver, trucking company, and any other potentially liable parties that advise them of your legal claim and demanding that any potentially relevant evidence be preserved.
- Continuous Documentation: Your lawyer should work with you to document all of your physical, psychological, and financial injuries. This includes all information pertaining to your health after the accident, like medical records and healthcare provider instructions for your injuries.
- File a Commercial Truck Insurance Claim: Regardless of whether the truck driver, the trucking company or other parties are liable for the accident, you can file a commercial truck insurance claim to pursue the damages you’re owed.
- File a Lawsuit Against Responsible Parties: Depending on the severity of your injuries and the progress of your insurance claim, your lawyer may recommend filing a lawsuit as the best course of action for your verdict or settlement offer.
- Negotiation: During all phases of the litigation process, your attorney will negotiate settlements and offers and ensure that you do not settle for less than what your claim is truly worth.
Many truck accident claims are resolved with a settlement before going to trial, but in cases where your demands are not being met, your attorney will take the liable parties to court.
Settlements for Truck Accident Cases
Victims of commercial truck accidents are often faced with low settlement offers from insurance companies. Post-accident stressors, like piling up medical bills and physical and mental distress, can pressure a victim to accept a settlement for less than they deserve. It’s important to remember that the trucking insurance company’s goal is to settle your case for as little money as they can. An experienced trucking attorney can provide guidance in your best interest regarding a settlement.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
There are particular injury cases that require specialized legal knowledge — truck accident injury cases are one of them. There are many unique factors involved in truck crash cases that differentiate them from a typical passenger auto accident and require heightened attention to detail, exceptional knowledge of applicable trucking laws, the financial resources to handle the case, and the experience that comes with a successful track record of maximizing recovery and winning verdicts for victims.
Questions to Ask a Truck Accident Attorney Before Hiring Them
Truck accident injury cases are major undertakings that come with more severe injuries and more complications than a typical auto accident. If you or a loved one has been involved in a commercial truck crash and are seeking counsel, these are questions you should ask an attorney to ensure that they can provide proper guidance to win you the settlement you deserve.
- How many commercial truck crash cases have you previously handled?
- How many truck crash cases have you taken to trial?
- What results have you obtained in representing truck crash victims?
- Are you up to date on the specific Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration laws?
- Do you know how commercial trucking companies investigate after a crash?
- Do you have the financial resources to go up against large commercial trucking companies?
- Are you the attorney who will be working on my case through trial if necessary?
Asking questions before hiring a truck accident lawyer is a useful way to ensure the attorney you hire has the necessary experience to handle your case.
Matthews Injury Law Attorneys Specialize in Florida Truck Accident Cases
The team at Matthews Injury Law knows the laws that trucking companies are required to follow, such as specific requirements regarding hours driving, background checks, and ensuring the truck driver is physically healthy enough to operate the vehicle. We also are well-versed in which documents to request and questions to ask each party and official following a truck crash.
Our truck accident attorneys have obtained verdicts and settlements totaling several million dollars on behalf of accident victims, including an $11 million verdict in a catastrophic truck crash.
If you or a loved one was involved in a commercial semi-truck crash, the team at Matthews Injury Law can help with your case. Choose a time that fits your schedule and set up a free consultation today.
*The information on this page was written or reviewed by attorney Marc Matthews, a managing partner at Matthews Injury Law who specializes in truck accident claims and has tried cases throughout the state of Florida.