When you are involved in a truck accident, it is essential to know that the claims process can be complicated. This is because many different factors must be considered such as proving that another party was liable and dealing with insurance companies that will likely try to minimize your payout. If you were injured in a trucking accident, it’s important to have an experienced lawyer on your side. Contact the West Palm Beach truck accident lawyers GOLDLAW today to schedule a free consultation.
How an Attorney Will Help Your Truck Accident Claim
It is critical to speak to a skilled truck accident lawyer in West Palm Beach as soon as possible after an incident occurs. These claims are very challenging, often from the beginning. It is not uncommon for the truck company or their insurance carrier to try and contact those involved quickly to resolve the claim, particularly if the truck driver or trucking carrier is clearly at fault.
Truck accident victims need to have an attorney handling all communication with other parties on their behalf. An attorney can get involved soon after the incident occurs and conduct a thorough investigation into the incident. These investigations often take time because of the complex nature of the claim. Evidence needs to come from various sources, including the scene of the incident, the police report, truck driver records, and truck company records.
Because there are often so many parties involved, trying to handle these claims without an attorney often leaves the crash victim recovering much less compensation than they otherwise would. An attorney can handle all negotiations for fair compensation, and they can prepare for a trial by jury if necessary.
The Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
In the United States, large trucks – including semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, and commercial vehicles – are involved in a significant number of accidents each year. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that there were 5,601 large trucks involved in fatal crashes in the US in 2021, a 12 percent increase from 2020.
So, what are some of the most common causes of these accidents? Here are four of the most frequently cited causes of truck accidents:
One of the most common – and potentially dangerous – causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Truck drivers often work long hours and cover large distances, which can lead to drowsiness and decreased alertness behind the wheel. In an attempt to alleviate this problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has rules and regulations regarding how many hours truck drivers can be on the road.
However, these rules are not always followed. Some truck drivers may feel pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines set by their employers, while others may simply want to get home to their families as soon as possible. As a result, they may ignore FMCSA regulations and drive for longer periods of time than they should. If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, it is important to speak with an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer who can help you assert your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
Like all other motorists on US roadways, truck drivers are subject to speed limits. However, because large trucks weigh so much more than passenger vehicles, they take significantly longer to stop when driving at high speeds. This is why speeding is such a dangerous behavior for truckers; not only does it increase the likelihood of an accident, but it also increases the severity of injuries if an accident does occur.
Tailgating – or following too closely behind another vehicle – is another common cause of truck accidents. Again, because trucks weigh significantly more than passenger vehicles, they require more space to stop safely. When a trucker tailgates another vehicle, they are putting both themselves and other motorists at risk in the event that sudden braking is required.
Poor Weather Conditions
While all drivers need to be extra careful when driving in bad weather conditions such as rain or snow, this is especially true for truckers. Due to their size and weight, it’s important that they slow down and use extra caution when driving in poor weather conditions.
Possible Liable Parties in a West Palm Beach Trucking Accident Case
When you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, it’s understandable to assume the trucking company is automatically responsible. However, there are several parties who could be held legally responsible for your accident. Some examples of potential liable parties include:
The Truck Driver
In many cases, the truck driver will be found at least partially responsible for the accident. This is especially true if the driver was speeding, driving under the influence, or engaging in other risky or negligent behavior. Even if the driver wasn’t breaking any laws at the time of the accident, they could still be held liable if your lawyer can show that they weren’t using reasonable care. For example, if the driver failed to check their blind spot before changing lanes, they could be responsible for any resulting accidents.
The Trucking Company
The trucking company could also be responsible for an accident that one of their drivers causes. This can happen if the company fails to maintain the truck properly or adequately screen and train its drivers. Additionally, many trucking companies push their drivers to work long hours that violate labor laws, which contributes to truck accidents.
The Owner of the Truck
If the truck involved in the accident was leased or rented, then the owner of the truck could also be held liable. Just as with a trucking company, an owner might be held vicariously liable for an accident caused by someone they trusted to drive their truck. An owner might also be responsible if they fail to maintain the truck properly or have it inspected regularly.
The Manufacturer of the Truck
In some cases, a defective part of the truck might have caused or contributed to an accident. If this is the case, the manufacturer of that defective part could be legally responsible. For example, if a brake failure results in an accident, the manufacturer of those brakes could be sued. However, it can sometimes be challenging to prove that a defective part actually caused an accident (as opposed to being due to human error), so this isn’t always an easy case to win.
The Loading Company
If improper loading led to an accident (e.g., if boxes fell off of a poorly loaded truck and hit another vehicle), the loading company might be held responsible. Like other possible defendants in a trucking case, the loading company can sometimes be difficult to hold accountable because it can be hard to prove that their actions (or inaction) led directly to an accident.
Common Injuries Caused by West Palm Beach Truck Accidents
There may be a wide range of injuries caused by truck accidents that occur in West Palm Beach. These commercial vehicles can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded with cargo, which is much more than the average passenger vehicle. Because of this size and weight discrepancy, even a seemingly minor vehicle accident involving a commercial truck can result in severe injuries for those inside other vehicles.
Some of the most common injuries associated with commercial truck accidents in Florida include:
- Fractured or dislocated bones
- Severe lacerations
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord trauma with paralysis
- Amputations or crush injuries
- Severe scarring or disfigurement
Physical traumatic injuries are only one aspect of a truck accident we need to examine. These types of incidents can often leave victims with significant pain and suffering damages. This includes physical pain and suffering as well as emotional and psychological pain and suffering. It is not uncommon for truck accident victims to experience symptoms of fear, anxiety, extreme stress, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These injuries may be harder to quantify in terms of monetary loss, but they are equally important, particularly when working to secure a final settlement.
Types of Compensation Available for Your Claim
There may be various types of compensation available for successful truck accident claims in West Palm Beach. This includes both economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages. These types of damages are what we consider “calculable,” in that we can gather receipts, invoices, or bills that the truck accident victim receives after the incident occurs. These types of damages can also look forward to the future to predict the calculable losses a victim will continue to endure as a result of their injuries. Some of the most common economic damages in these scenarios include:
- Medical bills associated with the injuries
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation
- Medical devices or prescription medications
- Lost wages if a victim cannot work
- Household out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage expenses
- Non-economic damages. These types of losses are not as calculable as the economic damages previously mentioned. Non-economic damages revolve around more immeasurable types of damages a victim is likely to sustain. This includes but is not limited to a victim’s:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (for a spouse)
How Much Compensation is Available?
There is no set amount of compensation paid to truck accident victims if their claim is successful. Rather, every claim is different. Several factors can influence total compensation amounts, including:
- The severity of the injuries
- The extent of the property damage
- Whether or not there was any shared fault for the incident
- Total insurance carrier policy limitations
- Total assets of the at-fault party or parties
- How long it takes a victim to recover
- The extent of any scarring, disfigurement, or disability
An attorney will thoroughly examine the facts of the case and determine how much compensation to request from the at-fault party. Calculable economic damages will be added up, but the non-economic damages will need to be calculated using different methods. Often, this includes a multiplier method.
When using a multiplier method, an attorney will add up all of the economic damages associated with the truck accident claim. They will then multiply that total by a set number, typically a number ranging from two to five. For example, let us suppose a truck accident victim sustains $100,000 worth of economic damages, including medical bills and lost wages. An attorney could multiply this number by “three” to reach a non-economic damage total of $300,000.
For this particular scenario, an attorney would request $400,000 for their client from the alleged negligent party or parties.
How Long Do You Have to File Your Claim?
Individuals who sustain injuries caused by the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company have a limited amount of time to file their claims in court. The personal injury statute of limitations in Florida is two years from the date an injury occurs (tort law reform changed the statute of limitations from four years to two years in 2023).
This statute of limitations means that individuals who fail to file a personal injury claim against the alleged negligent party within the two-year time frame will likely lose the ability to recover any compensation at all.
In addition to the statute of limitations, truck crash victims must be aware of insurance carrier deadlines in place. Often, insurance carriers require reporting of an incident within a short time frame, so we encourage you to speak to an attorney as soon as possible to get the claims process started.
GOLDLAW Is The Right Choice For You
Our law firm has decades of experience helping clients with truck accident claims, and our West Palm Beach truck accident attorneys know what it takes to get you the compensation you deserve. We’re the right choice for your truck accident claim because:
- We have resources and firepower. We have the financial resources that smaller firms don’t have, so we can battle the insurance industry.
- We fully understand the pain and anguish that brought you to reaching out and we want to help in any way we can.
- You will always know exactly where your case stands and who you can talk to when you have questions.
If you need help with a West Palm Beach truck accident claim, contact GOLDLAW to schedule a free and confidential consultation.