Semi-truck accidents are common here in Florida. Unfortunately, when a semi-truck and a smaller vehicle collide, the smaller vehicle tends to bear the brunt of the damage. The reason for this is simply physics: Semi-trucks are extremely heavy, powerful vehicles, and they are capable of inflicting severe damage on other vehicles and injuring their occupants. Luckily, if you’ve been hurt in one of these types of accidents, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. However, as we explain below, before pursuing a personal injury claim after a semi-truck accident, it’s important to first contact an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Why You Need a Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer After an Accident
Following an accident with a semi-truck, legal action is usually necessary for injured drivers and passengers to recover for their injuries. However, trucking companies and their insurers often do everything they can to avoid paying injured parties what they are owed. These powerful companies often pressure accident victims into accepting low settlements or, even worse, they refuse to pay victims anything at all. If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck accident, you don’t have to accept this kind of treatment.
When you hire an experienced accident lawyer to represent you following an accident, your odds of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries increase significantly. Therefore, if you’ve been hurt in a semi-truck accident in Florida, it’s imperative that you consult with a truck accident attorney for representation in your personal injury case.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
Following a semi-truck accident in Florida, trucking companies and their insurers often do everything they can to limit their liability. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, it can be difficult to take on these powerful organizations by yourself. However, with an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side, you even the playing field.
At Harrell & Harrell, our experienced personal injury attorneys have years of experience defending the rights of truck accident victims just like you. When you hire us to represent you, we’ll put our knowledge and experience to work to fight for your right to receive compensation for your injuries. Specifically, when you become our client, our attorneys will:
- Collect the evidence needed to make your semi-truck accident case a success
- Defend you against the efforts of the defendant(s) to minimize the seriousness and extent of your injuries
- Aggressively seek financial compensation for you
- If necessary, hire professionals like investigators, accident reconstruction specialists, and expert witnesses to ensure that your truck accident case is as strong as possible
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
There are many causes of semi-truck accidents, and many of them involve the negligence of the truck driver. Some common causes include:
Distracted driving: Distracted driving is an increasingly serious problem, particularly with the popularity of smartphones and other electronic devices. Distracted driving is defined as any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the task of driving. Truck drivers often spend long hours on the road, and this can result in boredom, leading truckers to engage in distracting activities like texting, looking at their phones, eating, and more. When a truck driver takes his or her eyes off the road, even for a short time, it greatly increases the odds of a serious accident.
Fatigue: Driving a truck is a stressful and tiring job. Although there are laws and regulations in place that limit how many hours a trucker can drive in a single shift, how much sleep is required, and when a driver must take rest breaks, many companies fail to abide by these rules. In other words, companies often force drivers to travel long distances with little rest in violation of trucking laws and regulations. This is a recipe for disaster. The failure to get enough rest can affect a driver’s concentration, coordination, and reaction time—all of which can lead to accidents. In addition, driving while fatigued can cause a semi-truck driver to fall asleep at the wheel, and this is almost certain to result in serious injuries.
Substance use: To combat fatigue, some truck drivers resort to using substances to stay awake. Stimulants such as amphetamines are common in the trucking industry, and this can have deadly results. These types of drugs keep drivers awake unnaturally, and they can lead to risky behaviors like speeding, unsafe lane changing, and using unsafe maneuvers in inclement weather. Even worse, once a stimulant begins to wear off, it can cause extreme fatigue, which can result in the issues discussed above.
Speeding: As noted above, truckers are often under pressure to meet tight deadlines, and this can lead to a number of unsafe behaviors, such as driving while fatigued and stimulant use. An additional result of working in this high-pressure environment is speeding. Often, in an effort to make deliveries on time, truckers will resort to driving much faster than is reasonable under the circumstances. This can be particularly dangerous when a vehicle as large and powerful as a semi-truck is involved. When a driver believes that the failure to deliver a shipment on time could result in the loss of his or her job, the odds that he or she will speed increase drastically. This presents a serious danger, especially to small passenger cars that are sharing the road with semi-trucks. Often, the site of a rapidly approaching semi-truck causes other drivers to attempt risky maneuvers in an effort to get out of the way. This, in addition to the obvious dangers presented by a speeding semi-truck, creates a situation on the road that is extremely dangerous.
Poor training: Truckers are required to meet stringent training requirements. There are a number of laws and regulations that detail how many hours of training a driver must complete in order to legally operate a commercial vehicle. This training covers many topics, including how to operate a semi-truck in bad weather, such as wind, rain, or snow. Operating a semi-truck in these types of conditions requires ample training and experience. Unfortunately, however, truck drivers sometimes obtain driving jobs prior to completing these training requirements, and this puts other drivers on the road at risk.
Improper maintenance: Trucking companies are required to inspect their trucks before they get on the road. However, they don’t always do so. Inspecting each vehicle before it goes out takes time and money, and some companies would rather risk an accident than expend resources on safety measures. In the trucking industry, routine maintenance often falls by the wayside, resulting in a number of unsafe trucks on the road at any given time.
Improper loading: Finally, improper loading is a frequent cause of semi-truck accidents. Every load that a semi-truck transports must adhere to specific size, weight, width, length, and height limits. In addition, if a truck is carrying hazardous materials, there are strict requirements for how such materials must be transported. When a semi-truck is loaded in a manner that is noncompliant with these requirements, accidents are more likely to happen. For example, improper loading can make a truck too heavy and increase the likelihood that it will tip over. In addition, if an improperly secured load falls onto the road, it can result in a catastrophic accident—especially if the materials being transported are hazardous.
Common Semi-Truck Accident Injuries
Accidents involving semi-trucks tend to result in far more serious injuries than collisions involving two or more passenger vehicles. The size of semi-trucks alone makes them extremely dangerous, and the injuries that result from these accidents tend to be catastrophic. The aftermath of a truck accident can have lifelong consequences. Therefore, it’s crucial to obtain legal assistance following a semi-truck accident in order to pursue financial compensation for ongoing and future medical and life care expenses.
Common semi-truck accident injuries include:
Spinal cord injuries: One of the most serious injuries a person can suffer is a spinal cord injury. The spine’s nerves carry messages from the brain to the rest of the body, making it one of the most important parts of the human anatomy. When the spine is injured, the communication between the brain and other parts of the body are disrupted. A spinal cord injury can result in partial, temporary, or total paralysis of the torso and lower body. Spinal cord injuries often require months or years of medical care, including surgeries, treatments, physical therapy, and the use of adaptive devices.
Head and brain injuries: Head injuries can range from minor, such as a contusion that resolves on its own, to life changing, such as a traumatic brain injury. When a head or brain injury is serious, it can completely change a person’s life, rendering him or her unable to communicate, work, or conduct the activities of daily living.
Back and neck injuries: The back and neck include small, fragile ligaments and bones that can be easily injured in an accident. In addition, whiplash can occur when a person’s head and neck snap forward while the torso remains in place. Back and neck injuries can range from mild to serious, and they often require expensive medical care to treat.
Internal injuries: Internal injuries can be extremely dangerous, and they are typically caused either by the impact of the accident itself or by trauma from a vehicle’s airbag. Common internal injuries include damage to the spleen, bladder, pancreas, kidneys, and liver. Torso and rib injuries are also common in semi-truck accidents. And although they aren’t considered internal injuries on their own, damage to these parts of the body can present a danger to internal organs. For example, a broken rib can puncture a lung or cause other internal damage.
Burns: When a semi-truck collides with another vehicle, there is a possibility that one of the vehicles involved will suffer a ruptured fuel tank. When a fuel tank ruptures, it leaks gasoline onto the road, creating a high risk of fire. A fire caused by a semi-truck accident can quickly spread, engulfing the truck and surrounding passenger cars. When this happens, drivers and passengers often suffer serious burns.
Amputation and disfigurement: Amputation and disfigurement can occur due to the impact of a semi-truck accident or as a result of another injury suffered in such an accident. A person who is disfigured or loses a limb is likely to require ongoing medical treatment and the use of adaptive devices to function in daily life. In addition, a person who loses a limb or is disfigured in some way in an accident may need caretakers to assist with his or her daily needs.
Bruises, cuts, broken bones, and lacerations: Lacerations and cuts are often the result of broken glass, sharp metal, or objects in a vehicle that become airborne in an accident. Cuts and lacerations can result in disfigurement or even life-threatening infections and blood loss. In addition, semi-truck accidents often involve blunt force trauma that can result in broken bones and bruising. Although bruises, cuts, broken bones, and lacerations aren’t often thought of as being as serious as the injuries discussed above, they can still require extensive medical treatment and leave victims with permanent problems.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck accident, you need an experienced truck accident lawyer in your corner. At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., we focus on one thing: personal injury law. For over 40 years, we’ve helped accident victims obtain financial compensation for their injuries. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys understand the physical and financial difficulties that semi-truck accident victims face. When you come to us for assistance following your accident, we’ll do everything in our power to ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries. Please contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.