Tampa Truck Accident Attorneys
Driver negligence is the most common cause of truck accidents in the United States. In fact, a new report issued by the Federal Motor Carrier’s Safety Administration (FMCSA), found that driver error is ten times more likely to cause a serious truck accident than any other factor including weather, road conditions and vehicle performance.
Factors such as the use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, speeding, inattention, distractions, work environment and road unfamiliarity can all contribute to driver error. However, sleep deprivation and driver fatigue are by far the most common causes of truck accidents.
At the Fernandez Firm, our Tampa truck accident attorneys know that determining the true cause of each crash is essential to successfully pursuing these often catastrophic claims. Regardless of whether the truck accident involves an 18-wheeler, a semi truck, tractor-trailer, tanker, bus or other large commercial vehicle, our experienced team of injury attorneys are here to help and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your legal questions.
Tampa Truck Accident Laws
Federal law governs interstate commerce between Florida and other states. Found at Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, these laws impose specific operational requirements for trucking companies, drivers and owners. Additional regulation of the commercial trucking industry is also enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
At the Fernandez Firm, our experienced lawyers know that responsibility for serious Florida truck accidents often comes down to whether or not the commercial trucking company complied with all state and federal laws designed to protect the public.
New Insurance Laws: Affect Your Tampa Truck Accident Case
Due to the recent changes in Florida insurance law, if you or someone you know has been involved in a Florida truck accident or vehicle collision, it is critical you consult with an attorney immediately to protect your legal rights.
Effective January 1, 2013, those injured in Florida motor vehicle collisions have only 14 days to seek medical treatment in order to receive payment of their medical expenses. Failure to seek treatment within this very limited time-frame, will completely bar recovery of any insurance benefits due to an injured victim under their Florida insurance policy.
If you have questions regarding a Tampa, Florida truck accident, contact our office today at 1-800-222-8163. Your consultation is absolutely FREE.
Who is Responsible?
In a Tampa truck accident case, it is crucial — and often difficult — to establish legal responsibility for the crash. In a commercial trucking scenario, numerous parties may share blame for a Tampa truck accident, including:
- The truck driver
- The owner of the truck (or trailer)
- The person, or company, who leased the truck/trailer from the owner
- The manufacturer of the truck, tires or other equipment which caused or contributed to the crash
- The shipping or cargo loading company
Commercial truck owners/operators often use tactics to avoid liability, such as: leasing (instead of owning) the tractor, trailer and/or equipment used to carry freight; and/or hiring “independent contractors” (instead of direct employees) to drive the trucks. When a catastrophic truck accident occurs, the company argues: “we don’t own the truck and aren’t responsible for maintenance or repair;” and/or “the driver is an independent contractor; we’re not responsible for his negligence.”
Additionally, negligent commercial trucking companies frequently blame the victim and each other. For example, after a horrific highway crash: the insurance company for the commercial carrier/owner claims the accident was caused by a defective tire; the tire manufacturer blames the leasing company for failing to properly maintain the tire; and the leasing company, in turn, blames the truck driver for falling asleep at the wheel, driving off the road and causing the tire to rupture.
In any of the foregoing scenarios, it may be that the true negligent party is merely trying to escape accountability; or it may be that various parties share responsibility for catastrophic injury or wrongful death. At the Fernandez Firm, our experienced Tampa truck accident lawyers know how to get to the truth and will not rest until our clients receive justice.
Hire Experienced Tampa, Florida Truck Accident Attorneys
Just because a lawyer handled your criminal case or simple rear-end car accident, does not mean that attorney has the training, experience and financial resources necessary to pursue a truck accident case. Florida truck accident litigation is a specialty field of practice and to be successful at trial, the law firm you hire must have:
- Experience working with qualified legal experts in accident reconstruction, vocational rehabilitation and economics. Hiring these necessary experts means your attorneys will have to advance substantial case costs — from $10,000 to $50,000 thousand dollars — on the case.
- Expertise in corporate trucking policies and procedures designed to prevent truck accidents, as well as, state and federal laws regulating interstate commerce in the United States.
- The financial resources to thoroughly investigate the accident and purse the case through trial and the possibility of a lengthy appeal.
Tampa Truck Accident FAQs
Following a Tampa truck accident that results in substantial injuries, you may have questions about your legal rights. Take a look at the FAQ below to learn more about the general answers to truck accident questions, or contact a Tampa truck accident attorney at the Fernandez Firm today to ask any specific questions you might have about your claim.
1. Is a Tampa truck accident claim more complicated than a regular car accident claim? Why?
Yes, a truck accident claim can often be more complicated than a regular car accident claim. Your attorney will need to look into a great deal of evidence to get a better idea of who may bear liability for your accident and how much compensation you may deserve. More than one party might bear liability for the accident, even if the accident involved only a single truck. The attorney may need to evaluate:
The trucking company’s policies. Many trucking companies have policies that push their drivers to travel for too many hours or to engage in unsafe behaviors on the road. If the trucking company has a long accident history or a history of poorly-maintained vehicles, you may have grounds for a claim against the trucking company as a whole.
The driver’s logs. According to federal law, truck drivers can drive for only 11 hours out of a 14-hour shift before they have to stop for the day. Sometimes, however, drivers may push to exceed those hours. They may want to reach a specific number of miles before stopping for the day or prefer to stop at a certain place, rather than pulling off the road when they reach their maximum number of hours driven. Logbooks can help show how long the driver has been behind the wheel. After a particularly long shift, especially if the driver tries to travel for excessive hours, the driver may have a greater likelihood of drowsiness or distraction behind the wheel.
Driver logbooks can also show where the driver has picked up and delivered goods that day. An evaluation of the logs can help show the driver’s general rate of speed and any other evidence that may show their likelihood of causing an accident.
Damage to the vehicles. Sometimes, damage to the vehicles can clearly show who may have caused or contributed to an accident that resulted in substantial injuries. Damage patterns on your vehicle may also show that the truck driver failed to take adequate action to slow or stop the vehicle, or that they did not take the precautions necessary to keep others on the road safe.
Your medical records. After a truck accident, many victims have substantial injuries: spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, severely broken bones, or even amputations. You may have extensive medical records that detail the extent of your treatment, including the severity of your injuries. You may also have statements from your doctor regarding how those injuries impact your life or the likelihood that you will suffer long-term limitations because of your truck accident injuries. You may have more substantial medical records than the victim of a car accident, since truck accidents often result in much more severe injuries than the average car accident.
2. What is the difference between a PIP claim and a Tampa truck accident claim?
In Florida, all drivers must carry PIP insurance along with their liability protection insurance. PIP insurance provides protection regardless of who causes an accident. Your coverage amount will determine how much compensation you can receive for both your immediate medical expenses and the lost wages related to your injuries.
PIP insurance provides the initial coverage for your injuries. When you go to the hospital, for example, you may provide your PIP insurance information to help you receive treatment for your injuries. Only once your injuries exceed the coverage of your PIP insurance can you file a claim against the truck driver or trucking company. Contact the Fernandez Firm today to discuss your legal options.
3. Do I need a lawyer if I need to file a PIP claim after my Tampa truck accident?
Yes. You should contact an attorney after any accident resulting in an injury, whether you need to file a Tampa truck accident claim or negotiate for compensation through your PIP insurance provider. An attorney can:
Review your coverage. How much coverage do you have under your PIP insurance policy? What does it cover? While Florida law mandates a minimum of $10,000 in PIP protection, you may, under some circumstances, choose to extend that coverage. Some drivers, especially those that carry full-coverage insurance on an expensive vehicle, may choose to carry policies that offer additional coverage.
Most of the time, PIP coverage will pay for 80 percent of your medical expenses up to that $10,000 amount, minus the amount of your deductible. An attorney can help go over your medical expenses and your policy and give you a better idea of how much coverage you should expect following your accident.
Determine whether you have grounds for a Tampa truck accident claim. You sustained serious injuries in your accident, and you have used your PIP coverage to help compensate you for many of those injuries. If the cost of your injuries exceeds your PIP coverage, you may have grounds for a claim against the truck driver or other parties that may have contributed to your accident. An attorney can help go over the circumstances that led to your accident, your medical records, and your medical bills and give you a better idea of whether you may have grounds for a Tampa truck accident claim.
Help you negotiate for the compensation you deserve. Sometimes, your PIP insurance provider may try to get out of paying the full compensation you deserve for your medical expenses. You may find yourself caught between your PIP insurance provider and your medical insurance provider as they argue over who should have to provide compensation for specific expenses. Your attorney can not only help you understand who should, legally, pay for the medical services you received, but can negotiate on your behalf and help you get the compensation you really deserve for your injuries. Contact the Fernandez Firm today to get started.
4. What should I do to protect myself after a Tampa truck accident?
Following a truck accident, especially one that results in severe injuries, the actions you take can make a huge difference in protecting you financially and legally. It does not matter if your truck accident occurs in one of the most dangerous intersections in Tampa, including I-75 at State Road 60 and the various intersections along Waters Avenue or if you suffer a truck accident on a forgotten stretch of U.S. 19. Make sure you take the necessary steps to keep yourself safe after a truck accident.
Report the accident. Always report any accident involving a big truck. Sometimes, truck drivers may try to press you not to report the accident. They may not want to have an accident on their records, or they may want to make sure that they can get back out on the road as soon as possible, rather than getting stuck in a long investigation. If you fail to report the accident, however, you may not have the critical evidence you need to prove when your injuries took place, which can leave you struggling to file a Tampa truck accident claim.
Seek medical attention. A big truck, which weighs substantially more than the average passenger vehicle, can put a great deal of force into your vehicle and through your body. Often, victims walk away from the accident scene assuming that they “got lucky” and will not have to worry about serious injuries. More often, however, they later discover that they sustained serious back and neck injuries in the accident.
Seek medical attention as soon after your accident as possible. A doctor can identify any potential injuries and make sure that you get the treatment you need. Seeking medical attention immediately after your accident can also help provide you with proof of when your accident took place, which could allow you to establish grounds for a Tampa truck accident claim.
Contact our Tampa truck accident attorneys. As soon after your truck accident as possible, get in touch with Frank and Jennifer Fernandez at the Fernandez Firm. An attorney can help give you a better idea of how much compensation you deserve, negotiate on your behalf, and even fight in court on your behalf, if needed. Keep in mind that traffic camera evidence or evidence from local businesses’ security cameras may get deleted shortly after the accident.
So, if you need to access that information to help determine or prove liability, you will want an attorney to begin work on your behalf as soon after the accident as possible. Witness memories may also fade quickly after a traumatic crash, leaving you struggling to get an accurate report of what others saw leading up to your accident. Contacting an attorney soon after the accident can make it easier to collect that information.
4. Who has to pay my medical bills after a Tampa truck accident?
A Tampa truck accident can leave you with substantial medical bills, which you may end up struggling to pay. As the injured party and the one receiving medical attention, you will need to make arrangements to pay your medical bills. You may start by using your personal injury protection insurance, which will provide financial aid for the first percentage of your medical bills following a serious car accident. Then, you can use your medical insurance to help cover further medical expenses.
Finally, a Tampa truck accident claim can help you restore some of the funds used to pay for your medical care after a serious accident. Talk to a Tampa truck accident attorney about how to file a claim and what you can expect as you file your claim. Contact the Fernandez Firm for more information.
5. How long does it take to settle a Tampa truck accident claim?
After your truck accident, it can take time to settle your claim. Talk to an attorney to get a better idea of how long you can expect it to take to settle your specific claim.
In general, you can expect to need time for:
- Investigation. Your attorney, and the trucking company’s or truck driver’s insurance company, will need time to investigate the accident and determine what led up to it. Often, you will need to allow time for this investigation to take place before you can fully establish how much compensation you may deserve.
- Recovery. In the case of many serious injuries, including injuries like spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injury, your doctors may not have the ability to reasonably assess your future prognosis immediately after the accident. Instead, you may need time to recover from your injuries. During your recovery, your future prognosis may grow clearer. You may also need time to get a full idea of how much you can expect to pay for your medical treatment or what your long-term medical expenses will look like, especially if you suffer injuries that will leave you with lifelong limitations. Your attorney may recommend waiting until you have a better idea of your future prognosis before filing a Tampa truck accident claim.
- Negotiation. Often, you will need to go through multiple rounds of negotiation with the truck driver’s insurance company before you can arrive at a settlement amount that works for both you and the insurance company. Each round of negotiation may mean that it takes longer to settle your Tampa truck accident claim.
- Court. While most truck accident claims do settle out of court, some claims do need to go to court to reach a satisfactory resolution. If you have to go to court, it can further extend the time needed to settle your claim, since you will need to wait for a court date.
Talk to your attorney to learn more about how long you can expect it to take to settle your claim. Reach out to Frank and Jennifer Fernandez at the Fernandez Firm today.
Free Legal Consultations – Call Our Tampa Truck Accident Lawyers Today!
For nearly 20 years, our Florida attorneys have successfully handled thousands of injury cases, winning over $50 Million in jury verdicts and negotiated settlements. If you have questions regarding a Tampa, Florida truck accident, contact our office today at 1-800-222-8163. Our lawyers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the consultation is FREE.
At the Fernandez Firm, we don’t get paid unless we Win… and We Want to Win!