Truck accidents can often be traumatic and expensive for those involved. This is often further complicated by the number of potentially negligent parties, the claims process, and having to deal contend with the treatment and recovery of what are likely severe injuries. Victims of truck accidents don’t have to take on the burden of confronting an insurance company alone or accept an unfavorable settlement just to recover some of their expenses.
Our personal injury attorneys at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh are well-practiced in the art of negotiating truck accident settlements our clients are more than satisfied with. Our firm is also ready and able to take your case to trial if need be to get you the compensation you deserve. KMW Legal invites you to take advantage of a complimentary strategy session with our Tampa truck accident lawyers to discuss your claim.
COMMON CAUSES OF TRUCK Collisions
According to the National Safety Council, large trucks were “involved in [118,000] crashes resulting in an injury” and claimed 5,005 lives, the vast majority of which were passenger vehicle occupants. 5 Florida students were sent to the hospital after a Hillsborough semi-truck driver rear-ended their school bus.
When semi-truck drivers become drowsy or distracted, cargo loaders fail to secure freight or truck owners neglect to maintain their fleet, it can result in significant economic, physical, and emotional losses that become part of a truck accident lawsuit in Tampa.
Fatigued Truck Drivers
Drowsy truck drivers can become cognitively and physically impaired and may lose control of the wheel after falling asleep, like the driver who hit two cars and injured a bystander in a Hillsborough truck accident last year. Truck drivers are at a higher risk of drowsy driving because they typically drive long distances with few breaks. They may disregard hours of service restrictions to earn extra money or appease the demands of their employer.
Like any other motorist, a truck driver can become distracted by a text, their lunch, another accident, or their navigational equipment. Truck drivers may be especially vulnerable to distraction, as they are often on the road by themselves for long routes. Distractions can result in traffic violations like a truck driver running a red light or side-swiping a car in the lane next to them, causing serious injury and totaling a passenger vehicle.
Driving Under the Influence
Truck driving is a very demanding occupation with long monotonous hours while isolated behind the wheel. Many truck drivers develop issues with substance abuse because of their work conditions which can put others on the road in danger. Drunk driving is one of the most common forms of driving under the influence, where drivers lose motor control, have slower reflexes, and reduced perception. However, many truck drivers can be at risk of causing an accident because of using drugs like amphetamines and opioids.
Unsafe Lane Changes or Merging
Semi-trucks have large blind spots that can prevent them from spotting cars or motorcycles in their path. If a truck driver is too quick to merge or is undertrained on how to do so safely, they can easily crush a passenger vehicle or run it off the road. Poor weather conditions make changing lanes even riskier. Wind can cause trucks to drift into adjacent lanes, and rain can impair a driver’s visibility, causing them to overcorrect or miss vehicles in their merging path.
Improperly Secured Cargo
Properly distributed and restrained cargo is critical to avoiding roll-over accidents or impeding safe braking. If a cargo loader doesn’t fasten cargo to deter sliding, overloads the truck past its weight-class capacity, or stacks cargo unevenly, it can prevent the truck driver from safely navigating the roads. Cargo that is inadequately tethered can even fall off of the truck and become a road hazard to other motorists.
Worn-down brake pads, broken headlights, defective tires, or stiff steering can impact a driver’s ability to stop, maneuver, and evade. If a truck has mechanical issues, the chances of a driver being able to successfully avoid a rear-end accident, swerve away from a pedestrian too close to the shoulder, or spot a bicyclist prepared to cross the street are low.
TYPES OF TRUCK ACCIDENTS
Truck accidents inflict catastrophic damage on passenger vehicle occupants because they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded and require around 600 feet of clearance ahead of them in order to make a complete stop at highway speeds. The weight discrepancy between a fully laden semi-truck and a passenger vehicle is comparable to that of the average American man and the average adult rhino. Most have the potential to start a chain reaction multi-vehicle pile-up. An attorney in Tampa could file a claim after any type of truck crash, including:
- Runaway truck
- Lost load
- Rear-end collision
- Head-on collision
Regardless of the form a truck accident takes, its weight works against the safety of other road users. The weight and momentum of a runaway truck can easily pulverize passenger vehicles, shatter bones, destroy signage, and leave a trail of destruction in its wake.
The Most Damaging Truck Accident Types
Among these types of accidents, some of the most damaging include override or underride accidents, the occupants of the passenger vehicle may be crushed under the weight of the truck, or die before they can be extracted from the wreckage and treated for their injuries. Head-on accidents are generally considered the worst because it involves the full force and weight of a semi-truck being brought to bear in a collision.
COMMON TRUCK Wreck INJURIES
When a motorist, bicyclist, or pedestrian is struck by a semi-truck, they rarely walk away unscathed- physically or financially. For example, severe truck accident injuries could lead you or a loved one to require a string of painful skin graft surgeries to repair a severe burn, be dependent on anti-rejection medication for an organ transplant, or lose your independence due to a traumatic brain injury. A person could sustain:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Disfigurement and paralysis
- Fractures, lacerations, and contusions
- Severe burns
- Crush injuries
- Loss of limb or organ
- Neck and back injuries
Severe injuries can leave victims on the brink of bankruptcy due to medical debt and the associated costs of their injuries, like transport to and from doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, and the loss of wages due to the inability to return to work. A Tampa lawyer will account for any injuries and losses in a truck collision claim.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR FUTURE TRUCK Crash CLAIM
Insurance companies are aware of what they stand to lose in a truck accident claim, and their claims adjusters will attempt to minimize your settlement to protect their bottom line. Seeking treatment as well as documenting both your pain and injuries can prevent them from accusing you of exaggerating your suffering or the extent of your injuries.
Additionally, this helps you protect your ability to use your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage which expires if you fail to seek medical assistance within 14 days of your truck accident. When PIP is not sufficient to reimburse your damages, you should consult a truck accident lawyer about pursuing a claim.
With an expert Tamp attorney from KMW Legal at your side, you may be able to recover damages associated with your injuries in a truck collision lawsuit.
TYPES OF DAMAGES IN A TRUCK Crash LAWSUIT
Regardless of fault, accidents involving semi-trucks tend to have a devastating ripple effect. A Florida driver collided head-on with a semi-truck. The force of the impact ripped away the car’s engine and flung it into oncoming traffic, hitting a third vehicle. The driver of the car has been hospitalized with critical injuries and will also need to replace the totaled car.
At Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, we hear stories like this every day. Clients come to us with bills for car repairs and medical expenses, but that is often just the start of the losses they have endured.
Truck accident victims may recover special damages like these, which are economic and compensatory in nature. They can also sue for general damages, which can help offset the costs of less tangible losses related to the truck accident, like emotional distress after being disfigured or the loss of a future career path.
Examples of Truck Accident Damages
- Property damage
- Totaled cars
- Damage from toxic and harmful chemicals released
- Severe injuries
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Medical bills
- Hospital stays
- Emotional distress and PTSD
- Pain and suffering
- Mobility accommodations and renovations
- Financial setbacks
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Job retraining
- Missed promotions
- Wrongful death
- Loss of companionship
- Diminished household income
- Funeral expenses
Unfortunately, KMW Legal has witnessed many tragedies become legal nightmares when truck wreck victims do not seek out practiced Tampa attorneys. Victims are often unaware of the full range of damages they are eligible to be compensated for or the parties they can hold liable for negligence, leading them to accept lowball offers or become entangled in a lengthy legal process.
WHO IS LIABLE FOR A TRUCK Collision?
Commercial truck accidents are unusual in that liability can often extend beyond a reckless driver and include parties such as the manufacturer of a flawed truck part or the agency responsible for maintaining a damaged road.
The truck driver’s employer can be found at fault if they directed their drivers to ignore hours of service regulations or provided them with inadequate training, leading to the driver falling asleep at the wheel or recklessly merging and causing a devastating truck accident.
In cases where the truck driver does not own their rig, the company that owns the truck may have fallen behind on their maintenance schedule, making them liable if an old tire blows and causes the truck to jackknife and collide with other drivers.
Truck Cargo May Be a Factor in Determining Liability
The cargo that a semi-truck carries can also have a strong influence on the driver’s ability to safely operate. Cargo loaders are tasked with packing, arranging, and securing cargo so that it is safely balanced in or on the truck to avoid becoming a hazard during transportation.
If the cargo was designed or manufactured in such a way that it could not be properly loaded or secured, or if the equipment that was intended to secure it is defective, the parties responsible could be found negligent in a product liability lawsuit if the flawed product caused a truck accident. A lawyer in Tampa could work to determine who is responsible for a truck crash and hold them responsible.
WHY DO I NEED A TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER?
Even when the cause of your truck accident appears clear, there may be more factors at play. Truck accident cases tend to be complicated affairs with the potential for multiple parties to be found liable for contributing to negligence.
Negligence is a failure to use reasonable caution when interacting with a person or entity. In most personal injury cases, a defendant is accused of negligence when they don’t fulfill a duty of care to someone else. In a truck accident claim, this could look like a manufacturer using subpar materials to produce a cargo clamp or a driver becoming distracted by a phone call.
Truck Accident Lawyers Handle Insurance Companies
Each negligent party may have a different insurance carrier, all of which will likely be highly motivated to settle your truck accident claim quickly. That means while you are trying to regain function in your legs, fighting a post-transplant infection, or mourning a loved one, you will likely be contacted by insurance representatives eager to resolve any potential claim quickly.
While you may want to skip the time and effort a truck accident lawsuit can entail, if you accept the initial offer from an insurance company, you could be setting yourself up for failure and lose your ability in the future to seek the compensation you need for damages you suffered.
The Tampa attorneys at KMW Legal have handled truck accident cases for over a decade. We know the scope of future costs to expect and how to extract a fair settlement from a negligent party’s insurance carrier.
DUTIES OF A TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER
A truck accident attorney in Tampa is essential for determining liability because it involves more than just showing the court a faulty clamp or a video of a dozing driver. Like in any other personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff must link a defendant’s negligent actions to the incident that was directly responsible for the plaintiff’s injury and ensuing damages.
At Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, we offer the full range of services in a truck accident lawsuit.
- Investigate truck maintenance records and driver shift logs, obtain dashcam footage and surveillance footage, contact eyewitnesses, and review police statements
- Consult truck industry experts to identify all potentially liable parties
- Enlist experts to testify for your case
- Represent your interests when dealing with insurance companies and medical debt collectors
- Protect your right to compensation
- Negotiate a fair settlement in mediation or arbitration, and if necessary, at trial
- Assert your case at trial to ensure maximum compensation for damages
Big insurance companies will undoubtedly capitalize on their massive resources to get your truck accident lawsuit dismissed, leaving you worse off financially, physically, and emotionally than you were before the truck accident. Protect yourself and your family’s future by seeking out a respected truck accident attorney to litigate your claim.
KMW IS PROUD TO REPRESENT INJURED TRUCK ACCIDENT VICTIMS
Tampa is the largest city in Hillsborough County and is home to a population of 387,916 people. Over the past ten years, KMW Law has assisted many with truck accident lawsuits and seen success in getting clients millions of dollars in compensation through settlements and court awards. Truck crashes have harmed many in the Tampa Bay area, and our firm stands ready to lend our experience and resources to assist victims with seeking compensation for their injuries from those responsible.
CONTACT AN EXPERT TAMPA TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
KMW Legal understands how exhausting it can be to be bombarded with an influx of calls from insurance companies offering you “hassle-free” settlements while you’re in the midst of recovery. But how can you be sure that you’re getting a fair deal?
Call in the trusted professionals of Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh to take over the stress of a truck accident lawsuit. Finding a Tampa truck accident lawyer does not have to be a hassle. KMW Legal has offices on both coasts with a new Tampa Bay location. We service the entire state of Florida.
Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh employs a team of tenacious litigators who are masters at recovering compensation for the damages sustained in truck accidents. After more than a decade in business, we have successfully developed a reputation for results and professionalism. Our clients look to us to provide diligent, determined service, and we deliver. Call today to discuss your case.