If you or someone close to you has been involved in a truck accident, you may have many questions about what happens next. This is completely understandable. A crash often leads to a person’s first exposure to our civil justice system in Florida. It can be confusing for many.
Orlando truck accident lawyer, Frank M. Eidson, P.A., wants you to fully understand your rights and the options available to you for seeking compensation for your losses. To that end, we have provided the following answers to questions that commonly arise in truck accident cases.
If you would like to discuss the specific facts of your case, please contact us by phone or through our online form and schedule a free consultation. Our firm serves clients in Orlando, Winter Park and across the state of Florida.
Truck Accident FAQs
Why is a commercial truck accident different from a passenger car accident?
Large truck accidents are different from passenger car crashes because of the size and weight of a commercial truck and because, in most cases, a company is responsible for the truck and the actions of the truck driver.
A loaded tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds and moving at high speed can devastate anything it runs into on the highway. A collision involving a truck and a passenger car is far more severe than a collision between two passenger vehicles.
In fatal truck crashes in one recent year, for example, 73 percent of those who died were occupants of the other vehicle, and only 18 percent were in the truck, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If passenger car occupants who are hit by a large truck survive, they likely will have severe injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, internal organ injuries or multiple broken bones.
In addition to the severity of truck accidents, dealing with the company that owns a commercial truck involved in a wreck makes a trucking accident different. By law, the trucking company, or carrier, is responsible for the trucks and the drivers it puts on our highways. The carrier will fight aggressively to protect itself from personal injury liability.
Because of these special considerations, anyone injured in a commercial truck accident should consult an experienced truck accident attorney before accepting a settlement offer from a carrier’s insurance company.
Who can be held responsible for a truck accident?
Several parties may be held legally responsible, or liable, for a truck accident. Determining who should be held liable requires an independent investigation of the crash.
If a truck driver is at fault for an accident, the driver may be held liable for the losses you have suffered. A trucker’s liability may be established by showing that a violation (or many violations) of Florida motor vehicle laws and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules caused the crash. For example, the driver may have violated hours of service regulations that dictate the number of hours a driver may spend behind the wheel (and which are aimed at preventing fatigued drivers from being on the road).
The trucking company, or carrier, can be held liable for the negligent acts of its drivers as well as for its own negligent or reckless acts. For instance, a carrier may have hired a dangerous driver because the carrier simply neglected to check the driver’s records. In some cases, carriers are found to have violated state and federal rules that require routine inspection, maintenance and repair of their tractor-trailers.
Large carriers may outsource a variety of company operations, from hiring and background checks to securing and loading cargo. These vendors may be liable if they were negligent in their duties, and that negligence caused a crash.
In other cases, an accident may have been caused by defective parts on the truck such as brakes, tires, steering components or trailer coupling systems. If the truck or its parts were defective from the start, the manufacturer may be held responsible for the accident through a product liability lawsuit.
An experienced truck accident attorney will conduct a thorough investigation, carefully analyze the evidence and seek just compensation from all potential defendants.
What kind of compensation would I seek in a truck accident lawsuit?
Compensation in a tractor-trailer accident claim may include economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages compensate the victim for losses such as past and future medical bills, past and future lost income and, in a death, funeral and burial expenses. Non-economic damages may also be obtained for pain, suffering, impairment, inconvenience and loss of companionship.
A victim may also be able to recover punitive damages. These damages can be awarded if it is found that a truck crash was caused by a defendant’s intentional misconduct or “gross negligence,” meaning the defendant acted with conscious disregard for the safety, rights or life of others.
After a thorough investigation of the accident, your truck accident lawyer will be able to determine the full extent of your losses and what party or parties should be held liable.
I may have been partly at fault for the truck accident I was involved in. Will this affect my ability to file a claim?
If you are partially at fault for a truck accident, it may affect the amount of compensation you receive in a claim, but it will not bar your recovery. This is another reason you should have an experienced lawyer represent you.
Florida has a “comparative fault” rule in personal injury claims. A court must determine what parties were at fault in an accident that resulted in personal injury or death and how responsibility should be apportioned.
Each party found to have been negligent in a manner that contributed to an accident is assigned a portion of the blame. So, if you are found to have been 20 percent at fault, your recovery would be reduced by 20 percent.
Naturally, attorneys for the truck driver and/or trucking company involved in an accident will seek to put a majority of the blame on you in order to avoid paying a claim. If Frank M. Eidson is handling your case, he will enter court with evidence derived from a thorough investigation of your case. If you are partly at fault for your accident, you will not be burdened by more blame than you deserve.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a truck accident?
Florida imposes a statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits that requires them to be filed within a specific amount of time. Because of the length of time required to investigate a truck accident and prepare a claim, we suggest getting started as soon as possible.
Under Florida’s statute of limitations, an accident victim has four years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. The family of someone who has died in an accident has two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The time limit on a lawsuit is usually counted from the date of the accident (or death). If an injury sustained in the accident was not discovered until later, the four years would begin with the date of diagnosis. If an accident victim was a minor at the time of the crash, their age can also impact the statute of limitations on a lawsuit.
Regardless, keep in mind the amount of work that goes into preparing a case for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Truck accidents are complex. Multiple parties may need to be investigated, and experts may need to be consulted.
To make sure the statute of limitations does not stop you from obtaining compensation you deserve, we suggest scheduling an initial consultation with a truck accident attorney experienced with Florida cases as soon as you can.
What will it cost to hire lawyers to pursue a truck accident lawsuit?
It should not cost you anything to obtain an initial consultation with a truck accident attorney. If we take your case, we will only charge you a fee if we obtain a recovery for you.
Frank M. Eidson pursues truck accident lawsuits for clients on a contingency-fee basis. You do not pay a legal fee unless and until we recover money for you through a settlement or a jury’s verdict.
Our legal fee is based on a percentage of the final settlement or court award, which we will set in your agreement to hire us.
Before you hire us, we will review your case in an initial consultation at no charge and with no further obligation from you. If we see the potential for a claim, we will help you to obtain your medical records as we collect evidence from the truck accident and see whether the facts support a lawsuit that is likely to be successful.
If, at any point, we determine that we cannot move forward, we will explain why and turn over all evidence we have to you. You will owe us nothing.
If we can move forward with a claim, we will do so aggressively to obtain all of the compensation you deserve.
To get started, please contact us