Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Lawyers
Motor vehicle accidents happen across our nation daily, and Fort Lauderdale is no exception. Yet, when one of these crashes involves a truck, the results are often catastrophic. Even though big rigs are an essential part of our economy, we continue to struggle with truck safety. It remains an ongoing challenge across the country, including in Fort Lauderdale.
Because many parties are involved in these deadly trucking collisions, the situation is often more complicated than other, simpler traffic accidents. As a result, you likely need the assistance of a law firm you can trust, one that can provide you the legal help you need and the understanding you require. That is why the Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Lawyers at The Levin Firm is here to help you fight for the compensation and justice you deserve.
The Levin Firm—Who We Are
Since 2005, The Levin Firm has advocated for our clients, providing them high-quality legal representation in a personalized atmosphere. Our attorneys understand that success depends on gaining our clients’ trust and the jury and the judges who we appear before. That is why we make it a point to be known for our utmost preparation and attention to detail.—
Through our dedication, drive, and experience, we have won millions in settlements and jury verdicts for our clients.
While these are just past examples and cannot guarantee an outcome in any case, The Levin Firm nonetheless brings our passion for obtaining the best outcome possible to every client’s case.
A Troubling Truck Accident Trend
Unfortunately, every 15 minutes in the United States, an individual is injured or killed in an accident involving a truck. In one year alone, 163,478 trucks crashed, which resulted in 80,229 injuries and 4,755 deaths.
Even more concerning is that these troubling truck accident trends do not end there:
- Trucking accidents increased by 51 percent in the last 10 years
- Almost 11 percent of all motor vehicle accident deaths occurred in large truck collisions.
- About 12 percent of all passenger vehicle occupant casualties and 22 percent of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in multiple-vehicle crashes resulted in collisions with large trucks.
Sadly, Florida cities like Fort Lauderdale do not fare any better.
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Reports, in a single year:
- 40,233 trucking accidents involved trucks.
- Of these accidents, 45 individuals were killed, 182 incapacitated, and 1,374 suffered other types of injuries.
It does not seem that trucking accidents in Florida are slowing down. Rather, these statistics are continually shocking the nation, as these accidents regularly result in numerous deaths and devastating injuries.
Types of Truck Accidents
Trucking accidents lead to significant devastation on Fort Lauderdale roadways.
Due to their sheer size and weight, trucks frequently inflict devastating injuries upon accident victims.
Typically, in Fort Lauderdale, these deadly truck accidents result from the following:
- Truck rollovers: These rollover accidents happen when a truck driver loses control of their truck. Consequently, the truck slides and rolls onto its side.
- Tire blowouts: Tire blowouts can occur in any vehicle. However, when they result, it forces the vehicle or the truck to uncontrollably move in wayward directions—crashing into nearby motorists or property.
- Jackknife: When a large truck folds itself so that the cab and trailer form a 90-degree angle, it results in jackknifing. This usually occurs when a driver brakes hard and fast. As a result, the weight of the trailer brings it forward against the traction of the cab.
- Wide right turns: In wide turn situations, a driver is approaching an intersection with the intent to make a right turn. Consequently, these drivers will swing out to make this turn. This leads to them turning into the first or second lanes, trapping pedestrians and vehicles.
- Blind spots: A truck’s blind spots are quite significant when it comes to trucking accidents. Often referred to as “No Zones,” these spots result when a truck driver cannot see other vehicles while changing lanes. As a result, blind spots can cause a collision because adjacent cars are in danger. These blind spots are directly behind the truck, along each side of the truck, and right in front of the truck.
- Improper loads: When a truck is not loaded correctly, or these loads are not secured, these loads can fall out and result in dangerous situations for other motorists.
- T-bone: These T-bone accidents can happen when a truck runs a red light and subsequently hits another vehicle perpendicularly.
- Head-on: These head-on collisions are some of the most devastating crashes. They occur when a truck gets into an accident with another vehicle head-on. These crashes tend to lead to severe injuries and death.
- Rear-end: A rear-end crash results when a vehicle crashes into another vehicle in front of it. Generally, these accidents lead to property damage and injuries. However, because of a truck’s weight, when these rear-end accidents involve a truck. They can result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
Trucking accidents are often due to driver errors. In fact, truck driver errors were a component in nearly one-third of all fatal truck accidents.
Some of these common driving mistakes include:
- Speeding: When a truck driver decides to speed, it can result in a deadly crash. This is often because a truck’s force of impact is substantially more significant due to its increased speed and weight.
- Distracted driving: Looking down, texting, and even eating may seem harmless. But that quick glance away from the road can lead to a horrific trucking accident.
- Impairment: Drugs, alcohol, and even prescription medications can cause impaired driving. When a driver is impaired, they cannot use sound judgment to make safe decisions, and their senses are lacking when it comes to their reasoning.
- Failure to yield: These accidents occur when truck drivers fail to yield, resulting in a crash. These accidents generally happen when there is a red light, flashing yellow light, pedestrians in the crosswalk, or when a driver makes a left turn and fails to yield to oncoming traffic.
- Fatigue: Tired or fatigued driving is a significant problem in the trucking industry. Often, these truck drivers have to work long hours because of their schedules, and they do not get the sleep they need. As a result, this type of fatigued driving can lead to devastating consequences. According to the CDC, staying awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.05 percent.
- Careless driving: When a truck driver is operating their rig without careful regard for others’ safety, this results in careless driving and can cause dangerous accidents.
Commercial trucks pass through Fort Lauderdale every day, many on I-95, transporting goods manufactured in the Sunshine State to markets nationwide, and bringing in cargo to south Florida businesses and consumers. They come and go from Port Everglades, serving as an essential link for commerce between Florida and the rest of the world. They trundle down neighborhood streets from Poinsettia Heights to Melrose Park, picking up garbage, delivering mail, and offering countless consumer services.
Clearly, trucks are an essential part of the Fort Lauderdale economy. But all that truck traffic comes with an inevitable downside: truck accidents. And, with them, severe and fatal injuries that inflict devastation on Fort Lauderdale residents, workers, and visitors.
Many, but especially those who have already been in Fort Lauderdale truck accidents, have questions about these devastating events. What causes those truck accidents in Fort Lauderdale? What characteristics of our city contribute to them? And, how can victims of Fort Lauderdale truck accidents secure compensation for injuries and losses stemming from accidents they did not cause, and should never have had to suffer? Read on for answers to these questions.
The Toll of Truck Accidents in Fort Lauderdale
Let’s start by assessing the problem of truck accidents in and around Fort Lauderdale.
By the Numbers
According to the most recent data available from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), Broward County has close to 4,300 commercial motor vehicle crashes every year. On average, those crashes result in roughly a dozen fatalities and around 1,000 injuries each year to drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and others.
Hot Spot Locations
A report prepared by researchers associated with the Florida Department of Transportation, Large Truck Crash Analysis for Freight Mobility and Safety Enhancement in Florida (FDOT Report) tells more. The FDOT Report examined hot spots for truck accidents in Broward County and identified four locations with a high density of truck crashes within the Fort Lauderdale city limits:
- In the vicinity of I-95 and West Sunrise Boulevard
- In the vicinity of I-95 and West Broward Boulevard
- In the areas surrounding four intersections: I-95 and I-595, I-95 and Marina Mile, Marina Mile and I-595, and I-95 and David Blvd
- In the vicinity of I-95 and Powerline Road near the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport
Taking a closer look at the first two hotspots, the FDOT Report also concluded that the large truck was the vehicle primarily at fault in about 60 percent of the crashes at the I-95/West Sunrise location, and in about 53 percent of the crashes at the I-95/West Broward location. In the remainder of the accidents, the report attributed primary fault to a vehicle involved in the crash that was not a large truck.
Injuries and Costs
Fort Lauderdale truck accidents inflict devastating physical, emotional, and financial harm on their victims. As noted above, Fort Lauderdale-area truck accidents take the lives of roughly a dozen victims and injure another 1,000 victims every year. Those who survive a truck accident in the Fort Lauderdale area may suffer extreme, life-altering injuries which may include:
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries that cause comas or lifelong impairments
- Crushed and/or amputated limbs and appendages
- Burns and toxic exposures resulting from spills of flammable or dangerous truck cargo
- Severe lacerations, abrasions, and other injuries that cause blood loss, infection, and scars
- Internal injuries causing lasting health complications
- Broken bones, orthopedic injuries, and other harms that can result in chronic pain and disability even after they heal
These and other truck accident injuries cause significant physical pain. They also frequently inflict lasting emotional damage that takes a toll not just on victims, but also on family members, friends, and communities.
And then, of course, there’s the financial toll of a truck accident. For victims or families of victims who die from their injuries, truck accidents often result in large medical and out-of-pocket expenses, which can cause severe financial strain, especially because injuries often put victims out of work, and unable to earn wages to cover the bills. For the city of Fort Lauderdale, truck accidents can also result in millions in property damage, business expense, clean-up costs, and overall productivity losses. The FDOT Report estimates that the average overall cost of a single fatal large truck crash ran into the millions of dollars, and that the cost averaged hundreds of thousands for most large truck crashes involving incapacitating injuries.
What Causes Fort Lauderdale Truck Crashes?
The FDOT Report identifies driver error—more often than not committed by the truck driver—as by far the most common contributing factor in causing truck accidents statewide. Driver error caused approximately 95 percent of all large-truck collisions with other moving vehicles, 92 percent of large truck collisions with fixed objects, and 78 percent of single-vehicle truck accidents (such as rollovers and jackknifes), and 70 percent of large truck collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, and animals.
The report also found other preventable factors that played common roles in Florida truck accidents. Most prominently, these included vehicle defects (15 percent of single large truck crashes) and driver distraction/vision obstruction (9 percent of truck collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, or animals).
Let’s take a closer look at the most common errors and preventable causes of Fort Lauderdale truck accidents.
Aggressive or Careless Maneuvers
The FDOT Report identified aggressive or careless driving maneuvers as the dominant truck driver error in most types of large truck accidents. Those maneuvers accounted for the majority (57 percent) of single-truck accidents, and the largest share of all other accidents except collisions between trucks and pedestrians/cyclists/animals, and collisions with parked vehicles.
Aggressive and careless maneuvers can include:
- Driving too fast for road conditions
- Following too closely behind another vehicle
- Failing to check blind spots before turning or changing lanes
- Accelerating or braking erratically
- Failing to move over or leave space for other vehicles
The FDOT report also found improper maneuvers accounted for a significant number of truck driver errors that resulted in accidents in Fort Lauderdale and around the state. They were the dominant cause of collisions between trucks and parked vehicles, playing a leading role in 44 percent of collisions. They played a significant role in all other types of accidents, factoring into one-third of all crashes between trucks and moving vehicles, and a quarter of accidents in which trucks collided with fixed objects.
Improper maneuvers include:
- Backing up in the wrong place or at the wrong time
- Making turns at dangerous locations in the road
- Dangerous passing maneuvers
- Failing to stay in the proper lane
- Running off the roadway
- Over-correcting or over-steering
- Swerving or other evasive actions due to road conditions (wind, slippery surfaces) or obstructions in the roadway
Truck drivers engaging in illegal maneuvers also account for a significant number of truck crashes in Fort Lauderdale. They play an especially notable role in collisions between trucks and pedestrians, cyclists, and animals, contributing to the causes of nearly one-quarter (22 percent) accidents in Florida. Illegal maneuvers also constituted a primary cause in 11 percent of truck accidents involving collisions with other moving vehicles. The only category of
The sorts of illegal driving maneuvers that commonly cause Fort Lauderdale truck accidents include:
- Failure to yield the right-of-way at an intersection, merge, or other traffic conflict point
- Running a red light or a stop sign
- Exceeding the posted speed limit
- Driving on the wrong side of the road, or in the wrong direction on a one-way street
- Disregarding other traffic signs, control signals, or road markings
In evaluating Florida truck accidents (most of them single-truck crashes) in which a vehicle defect played the primary contributing role, the FDOT Report divided defects into two broad categories. It found that so-called “functional” or “vital” defects in trucks, consisting of “those related to brakes, tires, wheels, power train, suspension, truck coupling, etc.,” played a far larger role in causing crashes than “non-functional” or “non-vital” defects, such as those affecting a truck’s windshield wipers or lights.
Functional defects caused more Florida truck accidents overall than non-functional defects. However, non-functional defects played the dominant role in two categories of crashes: truck collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, or animals, and truck collisions with parked vehicles. The likely explanation for this distinction is that the FDOT Report categorized defects that impair a truck driver’s visibility as non-functional, and that decreased visibility often plays a significant role in those types of collisions.
Driver Distraction/Vision Obstruction
The FDOT report found that driver distraction also played an important role in causing truck accidents, particularly (as mentioned above) collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, and animals. Common forms of driver distraction include:
- Cell phone use (texting and driving)
- Eating or drinking behind the wheel while the vehicle is in motion
- Conversing with passengers
- Paying attention to a GPS
- External sights or events that distract drivers from the road ahead
Common forms of visual obstruction that can result in a Fort Lauderdale truck accident include:
- Roadside vegetation (trees, shrubs, etc.)
- Other vehicles or vehicle loads
- Traffic signs and billboards.
- Environmental factors (rain, fog, smoke, etc.)
Surprisingly, despite the widespread use of smartphones and GPS devices, the FDOT Report found that driver distractions external to the truck cab and visual obstructions played a larger role in causing truck crashes in Florida than distractions inside the cab.
Research has identified fatigued or drowsy driving as a chronic and deadly problem among truck drivers, and has led to a host of regulations aimed at curbing the amount of time truck drivers spend behind the wheel.
Given the gravity of the problem of trucker fatigue, and the lower degree of regulation of intrastate truckers compared to interstate truckers in Florida, one might expect trucker fatigue to play a significant role in causing Fort Lauderdale truck crashes. However, the FDOT report appeared to reach the opposite conclusion, identifying truck driver fatigue as the primary contributing factor in only a small fraction of Florida truck accidents.
This surprising finding might be explained by FDOT Report’s author’s reliance on police accident reports for information about contributing factors. Driver drowsiness tends to be overlooked as a contributing factor in police accidents reports, which by design often cite a specific driver error (speeding, failure to yield the right-of-way, etc.) as the principal cause of a crash when, in fact, driver fatigue constituted the root cause of that error.
When You Are Driving Near Trucks, You Need to Watch Out
As a motorist, you need to realize that trucks are massive and unwieldy. When sharing the road or highway with them, it is crucial to understand that this is not the same as sharing the area with another motor vehicle.
Instead, when you drive next to these large trucks, you need to take certain precautions that can help you stay safe:
- Be careful passing: When you are trying to pass a truck, you need to do it with care. This means that you do not try to pass a truck until you can see them in your rearview mirror. Additionally, if you are on a downgrade, avoid passing these trucks as they tend to pick up speed.
- Visibility is key: You need to stay visible when driving by a truck. Truck spots have large blind spots. Typically, this means that if you cannot see the truck diver in their side mirror, they cannot see you. As a result, try to stay out of these areas when driving.
- Do not cut off a truck: Getting in front of a truck may appear like a safer option. However, if you cut over too quickly in front of them, it can result in an accident. Plus, do not forget that it takes more time for a truck to stop. Meaning if you are right in front of a semi, they can ram into you when trying to slow down quickly.
- Anticipate they will make wide turns: Understand that trucks need more area to maneuver and make turns. To avoid any collisions, make sure you do not block the box at intersections or try to squeeze by when a truck is turning.
- Avoid tailgating: It is never a good idea to ride a car’s bumper. Even worse so, if that vehicle is a truck. You are in their blind spot and at risk of sliding under the truck if there is a collision. It is best to keep your distance behind a truck.
Large trucks do not operate the same way as other vehicles. That is why it is always imperative to use common sense when you are on the road with them. Make sure you stay alert, avoid distractions, and stay out of their blind spots.
What You Need to Do Following a Trucking Accident
Any car accident is a traumatic experience for the victims. However, if you are involved in a trucking accident in Fort Lauderdale, it can be immensely overwhelming. Many times the injuries are substantial, and the shock of the crash is crippling. Yet, it is crucial to follow certain guidelines after a trucking accident.
These steps can make your health and safety a top priority, and protect your legal rights.
- Get help: If you are involved in a trucking accident, you need to call 911 immediately. These police officers can get you the emergency medical assistance you need. They will also examine the accident scene and create a police report containing critical information that will help if you decide to pursue a legal claim against the at-fault parties.
- Get medical assistance: Many times, if you are involved in a trucking accident, you most likely will need emergency medical services. However, even if you do not think your injuries were significant, you need to get checked out by a doctor. These medical professionals can review your injuries and verify you do not have any hidden head or brain injuries. They can also create a medical report detailing all of these injuries, which will be crucial when proving liability and the extent of your damages.
- Collect evidence: If you are capable, try to take as many photos or videos of the accident scene as you can. Include pictures of the vehicles and trucks involved in the crash, any visible injuries, skid marks, traffic signs near the accident scene, weather conditions, and any other details you find important.
- Get driver information: Make sure to take down the name, contact information, driver’s license number, and insurance information of everyone involved in the crash. Include documentation about the type of truck involved in the accident, which company the truck driver was hauling for, and what goods or materials they were transporting.
- Ask witnesses what they saw: If any witnesses were present at the time of the accident, get their name, and contact information. Their statements can provide you with critical evidence you will need to show fault.
- Avoid certain statements: Following a crash, do not make any substantive statements taking the blame for the accident. Do not indicate you are sorry for what happened or that any part of the accident was your responsibility. If you make these types of statements, they can be used against you.
- Call an experienced truck accident lawyer at the Levin Firm: Contact a skilled truck accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale following a trucking accident. These attorneys can get right to work investigating the accident scene and gathering critical evidence needed to prove fault and damages.
Remember, most truck crashes are significantly more complicated than other motor vehicle accidents, so contact our experienced Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyers as soon as possible. We have knowledge and experience with these types of accidents, and can provide you with the legal help you need.
Common Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Injuries
Due to the rising price of medical care, many individuals avoid going to the doctor at all costs. However, if these individuals are involved in a catastrophic truck accident, staying away from the doctor may not be an option.
Trucking accidents are dangerous. They can result in not only severe pain and significant bodily harm, but some of the injuries end up being life-threatening. That is why those involved in a truck accident need to get examined by a medical professional as soon as possible. These doctors can help get you the right diagnosis in terms of your injuries, provide you the treatment you need, and help protect your legal rights if you decide to pursue a claim.
Sadly, these big rig accidents are usually devastating. Not only do they lead to injuries that are often tragic, but many times, when a victim survives this horrific crash, they are left with lifetime injuries and a decreased quality of life that affects their whole family.
Some common truck accident injuries include:
Head and Brain Injuries
If an individual suffers any head trauma, it can lead to injury to the brain. A head injury results when there is any harm to a victim’s skull, scalp, and brain. The severity of this injury can range from a mild bump to a traumatic brain injury. Many times these injuries include skull fractures, scalp wounds, and concussions.
Symptoms: Confusion, vision problems, headaches, vomiting, cognitive difficulties, and nausea.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) disrupt the brain’s normal function, often caused by a blow, bump, or jolt to the head. In addition, these injuries can also result from a penetrating injury to the brain.
Symptoms: Decrease or loss of consciousness, blurry vision, loss of memory, muscle weakness, change in speech, and alteration in mental state, including slow thinking, difficulty concentrating, confusion, and disorientation.
Back and Neck Injuries
These injuries can range from slight neck pain to more severe harm, such as a dislocated spine disk. Many times because the neck and back are so critical to an individual’s everyday functions, these injuries can affect a person’s ability to work and perform daily activities.
Symptoms: The neck may feel stiff or experience severe pain. This pain can move to the upper back, arms, shoulders, and even cause headaches. Additionally, the back can experience a dull ache or sharp shooting pain. This acute shooting pain can radiate from the back into the victim’s calves and toes. Many times pain in the back and neck leads to limited movement.
Internal Bleeding and Injuries
Internal injuries and bleeding can result from blunt trauma or a penetrating injury. In a truck accident, this often occurs due to the violent shaking that vehicle passengers and occupants endure at the point of impact in a collision. These injuries can often go undetected for several days following a crash, resulting in many issues and problems for the victim.
The most severe internal injuries often include:
- Bleeding around the lungs and heart
- Head trauma that involves internal bleeding
- Trauma to the abdomen including the spleen, liver, or other perforations to other surrounding internal organs
- Trauma that results in tears in the large blood vessels near the center of the body
Symptoms: Dizziness, lightheadedness, abdominal pain, swelling in the leg, headaches, seizures, and deeply purple skin. However, these symptoms will depend on where the internal injury occurs and how significant it is.
A fractured bone is a broken bone. These fractured bones can be wholly or partially broken in numerous ways, including lengthwise, crosswise, and in multiple pieces. As truck crashes are powerful, fractured bones occur quite often in these types of collisions.
Symptoms: Bruising, severe deformities, swelling, and tenderness around the injury.
Lacerations or cuts are skin wounds. Lacerations often result from blunt trauma, while cuts typically occur from sharp objects. Unlike an abrasion, none of the skin goes missing following a laceration. However, these deep lacerations can leave massive scars and intense pain that lasts for a long time.
Symptoms: Even though lacerations and cuts are obscured by blood, they are still easy to spot.
Torso and Rib Injuries
The rib cage is designed to protect the body’s vital organs. As a result, if you injure your torso and ribs in a trucking accident, it can not only result in excruciating pain, but severe complications as well. Many times, these chest traumas lead to life-threatening injuries such as a ruptured aorta and punctured lungs. These torso and rib injuries include soft-tissue rib injuries, flail chest, torn cartilage, and fractured ribs.
Symptoms: Difficulty breathing, pain at the site of injury, grinding or crunching sounds, muscle spasms, and even a deformed ribcage.
Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis
Spinal cord injuries are serious. When there is trauma to the spinal cord, it can result in a temporary, partial, or complete paralysis of the torso and lower body. There are nerves in your spine that carry messages from your brain to other parts of the body. If the spine is injured, it can lead to a loss of function, feeling, and mobility. Sadly, these injuries often involve many years of surgeries, treatments, physical therapy, and in some cases, permanent disability.
Common spinal cord injuries include:
- Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury
- Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury
- Cervical Spinal Cord Injury
Symptoms: Intense pressure in your head, back, and neck, as well as extreme back pain. Other symptoms also include weakness, paralysis, incoordination in any part of the body; loss of bladder or bowel control; and, a tingling, loss of sensation, or numbness in your fingers, hands, toes, or feet.
When a truck is involved in an accident, there is a high risk of the fuel tanks rupturing. When this happens, a fire can spread and engulf the truck and the surrounding passenger cars. If you are a passenger or driver of one of these vehicles, you can end up suffering severe burns that can leave you with permanent scarring and disfigurement.
Burns are tissue damage that occurs because of heat, overexposure to radiation, chemicals, electrical contact, and the sun. These burns can be minor issues or even lead to life-threatening injuries.
Symptoms: If you suffer a burn, the symptoms will depend on how deep the skin damage is. It usually takes a day or two for the signs of severe burns to develop.
Disfigurement and Amputation
In truck accidents, an amputation can result from crushing due to the collision. An amputation is the removal of a limb by illness, trauma, or surgery. Those who have to endure disfigurement or amputation are likely to need ongoing medical treatments and require adaptive devices such as prosthetics to help them function daily.
Symptoms: Intense pain or numbness in the limb while not moving.
Unfortunately, even with emergency medical help, thousands of individuals die each year because of truck accidents. That is why, if you lose a family member or another loved one, you may want to consider a wrongful death lawsuit. Even though no amount of money can ever replace those you lost, a wrongful death claim can help compensate survivors who lost someone in a deadly truck accident due to another individual’s negligence.
Following an Accident—Diagnostic Testing
If you have been in a trucking accident in Fort Lauderdale, you need to get examined by doctors or specialists. These medical professionals need to get a clear understanding of the damage your body has suffered to provide you the treatment you require.
However, to get this clear picture of your injuries, these doctors need to use specific diagnostic tests and tools, such as MRIs, X-rays, and neuropathy tests to learn and assess what your orthopedic needs are.
- MRI: This is the standard diagnostic test used to look into and indicate any soft tissue damage in your body. This magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanning technique that creates detailed images of the human body. It uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to generate body parts that cannot be seen by ultrasound, CT scan, or even X-ray.
- X-rays: An X-ray will be used to verify if there are any skeletal damages following your truck accident. These X-ray machines take images of your bones using electromagnetic waves to penetrate the fat, muscles, and bones to allow the different structures inside the body to be exposed on film.
- Neuropathy tests: These tests help the doctor diagnose any neurological harm following an accident. These tests often include CT scans, blood tests, nerve biopsies, and nerve function tests.
Depending on the severity of your trucking accident, your medical health professional will determine which of these tests applies to you and your injury. That is why it is imperative to get seen by a doctor immediately following your truck accident.
Common Medical Treatments After a Truck Accident
Medical treatments following a trucking accident will often depend on the injury you sustained and its severity.
Typically the most common types of medical therapies following a trucking accident include:
- Emergency services and transport: Truck accident victims usually have significant injuries that require immediate medical help and stabilization. Following these accidents, emergency medical personnel will transport the victim in their ambulance to ensure the victim is getting proper medical treatment to the hospital.
- Hospitalization: If the victim’s injuries are severe, the medical staff and professionals may require that the victim be admitted to the hospital to receive ongoing stabilization and monitoring. If the victim is unconscious following a trucking accident, the victim may have to spend time in the intensive care unit. This is especially true if the victim suffers a traumatic brain injury. Many times victims worry about the costs involved with this hospitalization. However, these medical treatments are necessary to ensure your injuries are controlled.
- Surgeries: Depending on the extent of the victim’s injury (internal injuries or compound fractures), surgical intervention may be required. These surgeries may be performed immediately following the accident or at a later date. In some cases, multiple surgeries may be necessary.
- Rehabilitative services: Regardless if the victim’s injuries require surgery or a hospital stay, they may still need some type of therapy following the accident to help them recover. Rehabilitative services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other treatments help victims regain their full physical abilities. However, these treatments are costly and time-consuming, often impacting a victim’s finances and schedule.
- Prescription medications and medical equipment: Often, those victims that survive a trucking accident require medication, specifically prescription painkillers, infection preventatives, and other drugs to help them control their painful symptoms. Additionally, these victims may also require certain types of medical equipment that can help them not only move around but start to resume some of their everyday activities. These devices often include wheelchairs, crutches, a brace or boot, modifications to the house, and other equipment that can assist the victim while they are healing.
- Ongoing medical care and services: Unfortunately, injuries following a truck accident can lead to permanent disability and impairment, which means that these victims will need to be treated for the rest of their life. As a result, they will end up spending an immense amount of money on at-home care or ongoing medical care and treatments.
Following a trucking accident, even if you feel that you do not require the assistance of emergency services such as an ambulance ride to the hospital, you still need to go to your doctor to get checked out. You may not realize it, but a timely diagnosis is critical, not only for your health but also to prove that your injuries are related to the accident.
Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident FAQ
Truck accidents are complex, involving many moving parts and parties. If you have suffered harm due to such an accident, it is expected that you feel overwhelmed by the whole legal process. However, you do not have to figure out anything alone. When you retain the experienced Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyers at The Levin Firm, we can help you understand all of these legal complexities while maximizing your odds of a favorable outcome.
Below, we discuss some frequently asked questions regarding truck accidents in Fort Lauderdale. With this information, we hope you can better understand your legal options following a truck accident and how our attorneys can assist you through this process.
1. If I have was in a Fort Lauderdale truck accident, can I sue?
Before you can determine who you can sue following a truck accident, you need to understand specific Florida laws that can limit your ability to file a lawsuit. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that a driver’s own insurance covers their injuries following a motor vehicle accident. Generally, you will first file a claim with your own insurance to get compensation when you are injured. However, this no-fault law also means you cannot pursue the at-fault party in court unless you meet certain conditions.
If your injuries are severe or you meet a cost threshold, only then can you file a lawsuit. These severe injuries include “permanent’ injuries or injuries, which total more than $10,000 in specific damages such as medical bills and lost wages. In these instances, despite no-fault regulations, you can pursue a lawsuit to help cover these excessive bills beyond your no-fault benefits.
2. Who can you hold liable in a truck accident in Fort Lauderdale?
Unfortunately, it is more complicated to prove negligence in a trucking accident because more than one party can be responsible for the crash.
These potential defendants can include the following:
- The truck company: Usually, the first person to be looked into in a truck accident is the truck driver. In situations where the driver is an independent contractor, they will most likely carry all the accident responsibility. However, if they were an employee of a trucking company, that trucking company may be partially to blame for the collision.
- The truck driver: If the truck driver was driving negligently, such as speeding, not paying attention to the road, or texting while driving, they can be found at-fault for the accident.
- Government organizations: Some trucking accidents are the fault of Fort Lauderdale’s government entities. For example, if local agencies are responsible for maintaining Fort Lauderdale roads, and an accident occurs because of their poor conditions. These entities may be at-fault for your injuries.
- Third-parties: The roads are often filled with third-parties, including other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and even pedestrians. Even though you may have been in an accident with a truck, a third party could have played a significant role in that accident.
Working with an experienced Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer can help you not only identify all these at-fault parties responsible for your damages, but pursue legal action against them as well.
3. What are the differences between a car accident and a trucking accident?
It is no surprise that due to their sheer size and weight, trucking accidents are more severe. These crashes can result in brutal injuries that are often long-lasting or even permanent. Additionally, figuring out the cause of a trucking accident is often more complex than a car accident. Typically, motor vehicle accidents result from human error, such as speeding. Even though this is also true for truck drivers, there are other factors involved in a trucking accident.
In fact, even though the truck driver may be responsible for the accident. Several other parties may be found liable for the accident as well. That is why trucking accidents require a thorough investigation by an experienced truck accident lawyer. These attorneys can find the critical evidence needed to figure out not only who was responsible for your accident but show how they were at fault.
4. How much time do I have to file a truck accident lawsuit in Fort Lauderdale?
You have four years from the date of a truck accident to file a Fort Lauderdale truck accident claim. If you miss this filing deadline, you can be barred from pursuing compensation for your damages. However, this statute of limitations may be shortened or extended depending on specific facts of the case. That is why it is essential to contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can help verify that you have a viable claim and how much time you have to file.
Additionally, it is best not to wait too long to file a claim in general. The longer you wait, the more likely crucial pieces of evidence can be destroyed or lost. This can end up hindering your case and your chance of success.
5. Will a trucking accident affect my insurance rates in Fort Lauderdale?
According to Florida laws, an insurance company is not allowed to raise your insurance rate following a Fort Lauderdale trucking accident if you file a claim because the other driver was uninsured or underinsured or if the other party was at fault. If you suspect your insurance rates were raised without cause following your trucking accident, speak with a Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer to discuss your options.
6. If I am hurt in a Fort Lauderdale truck accident, who will cover my medical expenses?
Generally, according to Florida’s no-fault laws, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) will cover up to 80 percent of your medical bills and 60 percent of your lost wages up to $10,000. Any remaining balance can be covered by other avenues, such as any additional insurance coverage you have, medical insurance, and the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver.
However, all of these options can take some time, which can become a significant burden on you if you need immediate medical services. Working with a skilled truck accident attorney can help you quickly figure out these insurance policies and try to get you the money you need as fast as possible.
7. If you have been injured in a Fort Lauderdale truck accident, can you sue the trucking company?
This answer will depend on your circumstances. Typically, if the truck driver is an employee of a trucking company, the company might be held responsible for their actions on the job. Yet, if the truck driver is an independent contractor, to pursue the trucking company, you need to first figure out the relationship between the company and the truck driver.
For instance, even if the driver was an independent contractor, you can still hold the trucking company liable for your injuries if you show that their actions contributed to the accident. This can be a result of their hiring practices or supervision records. Let us say the company hired a truck driver with a history of reckless or drunk driving, or documents indicate that the trucking company pressured the truck driver to violate Hours of Service regulations. In these situations, the trucking company may be found liable for your damages, even if the truck driver was not an employee of the trucking company.
8. My loved one has died in a Fort Lauderdale truck accident. Can I sue?
If your loved one has died in a trucking accident, depending on the circumstances, you can bring a wrongful death claim to recover damages. However, in Florida, only certain parties can bring a wrongful death claim.
These parties include:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- The decedent’s surviving children
- The decedent’s surviving parents
- The decedent’s adoptive siblings or blood relatives. However, for these individuals to collect, they need to have been dependent (partly or wholly) on the deceased for services or support.
In Florida, only a representative of the decedent’s estate can bring a wrongful death suit. If no estate plan names a personal representative, the court can appoint one. Wrongful death claims can provide survivors with both economic and non-economic damages.
9. If my spouse has died as a result of a truck accident, what damages can I collect?
If your spouse is killed in a Fort Lauderdale trucking accident, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages. These damages include:
Economic damages include:
- Medical bills and expenses paid by the surviving family member or the estate.
- Funeral and burial expenses paid directly by the surviving family member or the estate.
- Any lost wages, earnings, and benefits that the deceased could have reasonably anticipated earning if they survived.
- Lost prospective net accumulation or the value of earnings the deceased’s estate could have expected to collect if the deceased had survived.
Non-economic damages recognize that surviving family members are impacted by their loved one’s death.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Loss of protection, guidance, and companionship that the decedent provided for their loved ones.
- Emotional pain and suffering if the deceased was a child.
- The value of services and support the deceased provided their loved ones.
Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are concerned with the defendant’s actions rather than compensating the victim. The court awards these damages to punish a defendant for their egregious wrongdoings and to deter these wrongdoings from happening again.
Speaking with an experienced Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney can help you figure out which compensation you can pursue and what you need to prove to collect these damages.
10. If the truck company is calling me after an accident, should I speak with them?
No. If the truck company or their insurance carrier is trying to contact you, do not talk to them without a lawyer. Yes, they may seem friendly and want to help you. However, the bottom line is that they are not on your side. They are businesses that want to make money and limit their exposure. As a result, the information you provide them can be used against you.
The best thing you can do is to call a Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer following your accident. Once retained, your attorneys can handle all the communications with the trucking company and the insurance carrier. This way, they can make sure that you do not accidentally say anything that can hurt your claim, while protecting all of your legal rights in the process.
11. If the insurance company offers me a settlement offer following my truck accident, should I accept it?
Ultimately, it is your decision whether you accept a settlement offer. However, trucking accidents may result in catastrophic injuries, not only physically and emotionally, but financially as well. Often these repercussions can completely change an individual’s way of life.
When insurance companies offer you a settlement, it may not cover your current expenses, let alone your future bills. That is why before you decide to accept the settlement offer, you need to speak with a Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney. These lawyers can help you determine whether this settlement offer is fair to you. If you decline the settlement offer, your attorney can proceed with the negotiation or litigation process, fighting for a more reasonable settlement.
12. How long will it take to settle my Fort Lauderdale truck accident case?
There is no way to determine how long it will take to resolve a truck accident case. In some situations, it can take months, while other lawsuits can take years. Trucking companies will try to do everything to reduce or deny your claim, hoping you accept a smaller settlement. This can result in a lot of back and forth. If you proceed with litigation, this can also take a substantial amount of time, as there are often multiple defendants involved. However, even though this process tends to be long and tedious. Understand that when you hire The Levin Firm to represent you, we can fight on your behalf every step of the way, ensuring you and your case are treated with the fairness and respect you deserve.
Truck Driver Conduct Standards—State and Federal Laws
Large commercial rigs are significantly greater in size and weight than your average personal motor vehicle. Consequently, when a truck accident occurs, the resulting injuries and long-term damage can be catastrophic. Many times, victims of these accidents and their family members feel lost following a trucking accident. As they are grappling with the injuries, they are trying to figure out exactly what happened, who was at fault, and who to turn to to get the answers and legal assistance they need. That is where The Levin Firm can help.
It is essential to realize that both state and federal laws regulate the trucking industry. These regulations aim to establish specific standards that need to be followed by all truck drivers and trucking companies. The two primary federal agencies that regulate the trucking industry include the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. However, Florida also has its own Department of Transportation to regulate intrastate commercial trucking.
For these reasons, if you are involved in a Fort Lauderdale truck accident, you need an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side. These attorneys not only understand all of these complex state and federal laws, but they can figure out exactly how the truck driver or company failed to abide by these regulations, which resulted in your injuries.
Some of these trucking laws include:
- A driver’s hours of service: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates that truck operators only drive for certain hours per day and need to take a break. Fatigued driving can result in deadly accidents. That is why truck drivers cannot work more than 50 hours on-duty over seven consecutive days or 70 hours over eight days. In addition, these drivers need to maintain a driver’s log for that time period and eight days after. In terms of breaks, a driver needs to take a mandatory 30-minute break by their eighth hour of duty.
- Licenses: Large truck drivers need to follow Florida’s regulations to get their commercial driver’s license. If a truck driver is in an accident without a proper license, it can affect the legal case against them.
- Quality control: To ensure quality control, commercial vehicles are regulated in their repairs and manufacturing. Federal laws, for instance, put regulations on air brake systems. As a result, if you are in a truck accident, you may also have a claim against the supplier, repairer, and manufacturer of the faulty truck part, which contributed to the collision.
- Hazardous waste: There are many safety regulations when it comes to transporting hazardous materials. The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (OHMS) sets these regulations. If a truck driver does not follow these specific guidelines and an accident results. You can bring a claim against the driver, their employer, and even the company that is shipping the hazardous material.
- Maximum weight: Trucks have a maximum weight they can haul. The size of the truck determines this weight. When a truck is overloaded, it can be perilous not only for the truck driver but also for other drivers. That is why if there is an accident, investigating the weight of the truck is vital to figuring out fault and proving liability.
As you can see, trucking laws are detailed and may demand an extensive investigation to find the necessary evidence to prove that a truck driver violated these regulations. For these reasons, speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney promptly following your accident. These lawyers can start gathering critical evidence and documents as soon as possible to build the best case on your behalf.
Why Are Trucking Accidents so Dangerous in Fort Lauderdale?
According to the United States Department of Transportation, a truck can weigh between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds. Consequently, it is no surprise that a trucking accident can be deadly.
However, weight is not the only dangerous aspect of a truck.
- Sits much higher: Trucks sit higher off the road than other motor vehicles. Because of this height difference, if an accident occurs, a car can travel underneath the truck and result in deadly consequences.
- Maneuverability: Trucks are long and heavy, meaning they are not easy to maneuver. Completing a turn or other maneuvers requires more space and time. When truck drivers or other motor vehicle drivers do not take this control into account, dangerous accidents can happen.
- Stopping: Unfortunately, large trucks cannot stop quickly. It requires distance and time for them to make a complete stop. As a result, when you have a large truck needing to make an emergency stop, it can lead to a fatal collision.
Figuring out Who Is at Fault Following Your Trucking Accident
As federal and state trucking regulations govern truck companies and their drivers, many parties can contribute to an accident or hold some legal responsibility for the damages.
These parties can include:
- The drivers of the truck: According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are stringent regulations when it comes to those operating trucking vehicles. When a driver violates these trucking laws, such as operating their truck while under the influence, not maintaining the truck in good working order, or driving extended hours, they can be found at-fault for injuries resulting from their negligence.
- Trucking companies: Trucking companies are responsible for their employees. This means they need to verify that their drivers stick to scheduled hours, ensure that trucks are properly loaded and maintained, and perform background checks on potential drivers. If any of these rules are violated, and an injury occurs, the trucking company can be held liable for the damages.
- Manufacturers and mechanics: Unfortunately, even when a truck is checked regularly, things can still go wrong. Defective truck parts can lead to dangerous situations and deadly accidents. Depending on the defect and how it happened, a manufacturer, designer, and even a mechanic, can be found liable for any injuries that result.
- Loading companies: Improper loading is one of the significant causes of trucking accidents. This improper loading can result in brake issues, safety problems, and burst tires. If improper loading contributed to a truck crash, the loading company that failed to secure, load, or weigh the load properly can be found liable for the injuries.
- Government agencies: In some circumstances, Florida’s government can be liable for harm due to a trucking accident—for example, if a municipal agency such as a sanitation department owns or operates a truck. The municipal or state government can be held responsible for the injuries. Additionally, governmental entities are responsible for maintaining safe roads. If an accident results from these defective roadways, the government can be found liable for the crash.
- Leasing companies: If a company leases its equipment or trucks, and that truck or part is involved in an accident. These leasing companies can end up sharing liability for an accident that results.
- Truck owners: Federal regulations indicate that there are specific requirements trucking companies need to meet in terms of maintaining, repairing, and inspecting a commercial truck. As a result, truck owners can be held liable for an accident if their truck is not in good working condition.
Many parties need to ensure that a truck is in good working order. If one of these parties fails to do their part, they can be named a defendant in a trucking accident lawsuit. In fact, multiple parties can be found liable following an accident. When a case has numerous defendants, it allows the victim to potentially collect a larger settlement and verdict. However, it can also result in numerous challenges. That is why it is essential to retain a knowledgeable and skilled truck accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. These attorneys can not only figure out who was at fault for your injuries, but pursue all those liable, ensuring they fight for maximum compensation.
Why You Need The Levin Firm Helping You in a Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Lawsuit
If you were in a trucking accident, you need an experienced Fort Lauderdale legal team on your side. At The Levin Firm, our lawyers are ready to take on your case and fight for the damages you deserve. We have the experience, knowledge, and skills to take effective steps to not only determine what caused the trucking accident and pursue legal action against all those liable, but also prove to the court the harm you endured.
Specifically, our attorneys can:
- Investigate: Our legal team can thoroughly investigate the trucking accident. We can analyze the black box data and check if the driver was involved in any erratic driving behavior such as wild steering, swerving, or even failing to brake. We can make sure to review the driver’s dash-cam and verify if there were any signs of distracted driving. Finally, we can gather critical documents, review employment records, and interview relevant witnesses to establish fault and liability.
- Communication: Following a trucking accident, the trucking company and their insurance company will jump right into action. Sending their own investigators and insurance representatives to start building the best defense on their behalf. Their tactics will even include trying to get you to admit fault for the incident. Their job is to make money, and they will accomplish this objective by denying your claim or paying you out less than they should. However, if you retain The Levin Firm lawyers, we can handle all communications with the other side for you. This can help ensure your case is treated with fairness and respect and that we negotiate for a settlement that is fair to you.
- Head to trial, if necessary: If the other side is unwilling to negotiate, our lawyers can take your case to trial. During this litigation process, we can make sure you are prepared every step of the way while we fight for your rightful compensation.
- Experts: We know that we need to provide reliable and detailed evidence to prove fault and damages. That is why we can bring in experts, including accident recreationists, economists, doctors, and engineers who can not only show what happened in the trucking accident, how the defendant(s) were liable for the accident, and the specific damages you endured.