Boca Raton Trucking Accident Attorney
We are a Boca Raton trucking accident attorney.
In Boca Raton, Florida, it’s likely you’ve witnessed a large truck accident on a national highway (such as I-95 or the Florida Turnpike) or on local roads.
At Barthelette Law, we handle truck accidents with speed and intensity.
When an accident involves an 18-wheeler or other large commercial vehicle, serious injury and even death can occur. Due to the size and weight of large trucks, the severity of injuries increases along with the cost of medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Indeed, truck accidents can magnify the potential fallout from an accident.
In the United States, there are over 400,000 accidents involving trucks each year. In 2018, over ten percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents involved large trucks. Additionally, while deaths from car accidents are on the decline nationally, trucking related deaths are rising.
Every truck accident is unique. A truck accident personal injury attorney will know how to pick up on important nuances – the details crucial to winning your case.
The following is foundational information to consider if you are looking for truck accident lawyers near me after finding yourself or a loved one injured in a trucking accident.
Table of Contents
- What is a truck accident case?
- What are the leading causes of truck accidents leading to injury?
- What are common injuries from truck accidents?
- Who do you sue in a truck accident case?
- What steps should I take immediately after a truck accident?
- What do trucking companies do after an accident?
- Is a large truck accident different than a car accident?
- Do trucking safety regulations help my case?
- What insurance must truck drivers have?
- What are the most common types of trucks involved in accidents?
- What is my truck accident case worth?
- How do I get compensated for my injuries after a truck accident?
- Is my truck or tractor trailer accident case going to go to trial?
- Do I have a say about whether I can settle my trucking accident claim?
- How long does a truck accident case take?
- What if the injured party (you) just wants to settle?
- Can I settle my truck accident case on my own?
- Can I file a wrongful death claim for a truck accident?
- What must be done to win my truck accident case?
- Why is it so important to start an early investigation after a truck accident?
- Is it ok to post on social media?
- Should I speak with the truck driver’s insurance company?
- If I was partially at fault for the truck accident can I still file a lawsuit?
- Should I hire a Boca Raton truck accident attorney?
- How much does it cost to hire a truck accident attorney?
- When should I hire a commercial truck accident attorney?
- What do injury attorneys do when investigating trucking accidents?
What is a truck accident case?
A truck accident case is a legal claim filed against a truck driver and the truck driver’s employer for personal injury or wrongful death due to the negligent actions or reckless conduct of the truck driver.
Every truck accident case is different. And so your truck accident case may involve different rules, regulations, laws, and legal issues than other truck accidents. No two cases are the same.
Personal injury lawyers know the rules, regulations, and laws that apply to your truck accident case.
What are the leading causes of truck accidents leading to injury?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are several potential causes for trucking accidents. They include:
- Running out of the travel lane, either into another lane or off of the road;
- Loss of control of the truck;
- Colliding with the rear of another vehicle in the truck’s travel lane;
- Truck driver was tired or fell asleep;
- Truck driver was inattentive or distracted;
- Truck driver was speeding;
- Truck was not maintained;
- Mechanical problems with the truck;
- Alcohol and/or prescription drug abuse; and,
- Cargo shift.
Again, each trucking accident is different and may involve one or more of the above causes.
There are guidelines to prevent these unfortunate circumstances from happening, yet they are not always followed. Can you imagine any of the following happening?
- A trucker is drowsy because he or she is working too many hours without rest, causing driver fatigue. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has hours of service (HOS) regulations that give guidance as to the safe number of hours a truck driver can work consecutively and in total. It states the frequency in which truck drivers must stop and take rest breaks. The FMCSA now mandates logging of hours in an electronic logging device (ELDs). A drowsy driver is a dangerous driver. These regulations are there to protect the public and the commercial driver;
- Trucking companies need to make deadlines, so trucks stay on the road past the required maintenance checks. The commercial truck drivers are mandated to perform maintenance up to the standards of the FMCSA. Some areas of ongoing maintenance are to the tires, brakes, headlights, unsecured loads, ongoing vehicle inspections, tow hitches, and steering components;
- Cheap parts are used or improperly installed causing something to break while driving. While there are no acknowledged best parts to use, improper parts or applications could cause serious damage; and,
- Stacking more equipment than what is safe to haul. There are guidelines on the weight, size, height, and other guidelines to follow for hauling.
Unfortunately, we know the above examples can happen. Corners get cut without anyone the wiser, until something terrible happens and a trucking accident injures someone else.
What are common injuries from truck accidents?
The size and weight of large commercial vehicles increases the chances of serious bodily injury. Some injuries are instantly apparent, others only after a doctor does a thorough check-up, and some that cause slowly progressing problems. A non-exhaustive list of injuries include the following:
- Head injury;
- Brain damage, or traumatic brain injury;
- Organ damage;
- Whiplash and cervical spine injury;
- Low back injury;
- Disc herniation;
- Facet injury;
- Bone fracture;
- Ligament tears and strains;
- Injured or amputated limbs;
- Bruising and contusions; and,
Who do you sue in a truck accident case?
If you’re in a typical car accident, chances are the person driving the car owns the car in the car crash. Whoever sold them the car (say, Ford) and gave them the right to drive (the government) are not going to be part of the lawsuit. The ownership of the car is personal and so is the ownership of the liability in a car crash.
When we talk about truck drivers, often times the truck drivers behind the wheels of an 18-wheeler truck, fuel truck, or bus, are employed by a company with the responsibility of putting safe drivers on the road.
The trucking company might look to make the claim the truck driver is not an employee of the company, but rather an independent contractor. That would help shield them from being liable for the driver’s actions and shield them from the lawsuit. Their primary goal might not be to prove the innocence of the driver but proving the driver is not their responsibility.
In general, the parties involved in a truck accident lawsuit might include:
- Truck divers;
- Trucking Companies; and,
What steps should I take immediately after a truck accident?
Health and safety first.
After a collision with a large commercial truck, it is important to first look after the health and safety of all parties involved. If possible, all parties should remove themselves from danger. That includes areas where traffic is still going, any areas with fire, toxic materials, or any other dangerous substances. Then, if anyone appears injured contact emergency services as soon as possible.
Legal claim second.
Most people are not looking to sue anyone. You might even feel bad thinking about it.
However, the injuries sustained in an 18-wheeler accident, for example, may require prolonged medical attention and supervision compared to other injury events, including paralysis, traumatic brain injury, or death.
The fact of the matter is the truck accident may have life-long consequences.
Building your case should start once all parties are out of harm’s way.
To protect yourself legally, immediate action items include the following:
- Do not leave the scene of the collision, unless it is medically necessary (ambulance ride, for instance);
- Call 911 to reach out for Boca Raton emergency services. You must also report the truck accident to the police. Not only does this create a record of the truck accident, but it also allows for the proper investigation of the scene and a police report to be filed. The police will come and interview potential witnesses, note any potential evidence (such as skid marks), and gather yours and the truck driver’s information;
- All people should be moved to an area of safety, including responsible parties and bystanders. Do not assume other drivers will avoid you on the side of the road;
- Just about everyone now carries a phone. Make sure to take photographs and video of the accident. All the vehicles, any skid marks, any physical object involved in the accident, any objects that spilled onto the road, any injuries sustained by you and your passengers, and any peculiar behavior of those involved in the accident (intoxication, for example). Make sure to take photographs from all angles on the outside of your car or truck, as well as the inside;
- Exchange pertinent information with the other drivers in the accident. This includes all contact information, driver’s license, insurance information, and commercial vehicle information;
- Contact a personal injury lawyer, and set up a time to go over your case. This is typically a free consultation, which is standard for all personal injury lawyers;
- Make sure all medical appointments are made and attended. It is important not only for your health, but also for your case; and,
- You should work with your attorney to begin filing a legal claim.
What do trucking companies do after an accident?
After trucking accidents, trucking companies and their insurance carriers often send their representatives to the trucking accident scene to record and document any evidence, identify and interview witnesses, and determine the cause of fault for the trucking accident.
Indeed, trucking companies and their insurance carriers are taking steps to protect and defend their interests.
Consequently, it is critical you do the same and contact Barthelette Law immediately. We will take all steps to document the accident, interview potential witnesses, and identify all potential evidence.
Is a large truck accident different than a car accident?
Normal car-on-car accidents cause injuries. But when you compare an 5,000 pound 18-wheeler to a 5,000 pound car, the likelihood of serious injury increases. While broken bones and torn tendons are common, it is the soft organs that are at serious risk, which can result in paralysis or traumatic brain injury.
Do trucking safety regulations help my case?
There are laws and regulations that commercial trucks like 18-wheeler truck drivers must follow in order to keep them, and the public, safe. There are both federal and Florida state laws to navigate and consider in order to be successful in a lawsuit against a trucking company.
What insurance must truck drivers have?
For commercial vehicles or trucks driven in Florida only, the Florida Department of Transportation requires trucks over 44,000 pounds to carry at least $300,000 in in bodily injury and property damage insurance, commercial vehicles and trucks less than 44,000 pounds but more than 35,000 pounds must carry at least $100,000 in bodily injury and property damage insurance, commercial vehicles and trucks less than 35,000 pounds but more than 26,000 pounds must carry $55,000 in bodily injury and property damage, and commercial vehicles and trucks less than 26,000 pounds must carry the state minimum (see Florida Statute Section 627.7415).
Commercial vehicles and trucks that travel from state to state must meet federal insurance requirements. Depending on the type of freight the truck or commercial vehicle is carrying, the minimum bodily injury insurance will be between $750,000 and $5,000,000. Additionally, trucks weighing under 10,001 pounds carrying non-hazardous freight must carry at least $300,000 in bodily injury insurance.
What are the most common types of trucks involved in accidents?
Large trucks in Boca Raton involved in an accident due to driver negligence can include the following:
- Concrete transport truck (cement mixer);
- Mobile crane;
- Dump truck;
- Garbage truck;
- Recycling truck;
- Fuel truck;
- Log carriers;
- Refrigerator truck;
- Tractor trailers;
- Tanker truck;
- Big rigs;
- Delivery truck;
- Flatbed truck;
- Tow truck;
- Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles; and,
What is my truck accident case worth?
This is a question and issue I discuss with all my personal injury clients. The answer involves the consideration of many issues, including:
- The total sum of your out-of-pocket losses, including medical bills, property damage, and loss of income;
- The total sum of your future losses, including future medical care costs and future loss of earnings;
- The total amount of insurance;
- The extent of your pain, suffering, anguish, stress, and other mental and emotional losses; and,
- The extent of liability, including the role your actions may have contributed to the accident.
For a full discussion on the value of personal injury cases, check out my blog post on this issue (see: https://barthelettelaw.com/what-is-my-personal-injury-case-worth/).
How do I get compensated for my injuries after a truck accident?
Financial compensation for injuries, lost wages, loss of potential future earnings, pain and suffering, and other expenses will most likely come from the truck driver, the trucking company, or their insurance company.
Commercial insurance for truck drivers is designed for potential accidents involving a truck or commercial vehicle. Truck accident attorneys know the appropriate steps to file your claim and prepare your case for trial.
At Barthelette Law, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to handling personal injury cases. We carefully tailor our approach to achieve the best possible result.
Is my truck or tractor trailer accident case going to go to trial?
Yes. Or at least that’s the position you need to take in all truck or tractor trailer accidents.
To achieve the best possible result for your trucking accident case, you need to be ready for trial. This means gathering all evidence, getting the right experts, and preparing for trial. This, in turn, shows the other side all the favorable evidence you have to support your case and gives you the best chance of getting a fair settlement.
Statistically, approximately 97% of civil cases settle before going to trial. So it is highly likely your case will settle before trial. Still, you have to be ready to prepare for trial.
Do I have a say about whether I can settle my trucking accident claim?
All settlement offers will be presented to you for your review, thought, consideration, and determination.
Importantly, as the client you have the final say on the decision whether to accept or reject a settlement. Some clients think their lawyer has the final say, but this is not true. Clients are the ultimate decision makers. Never feel pressured to make a decision against your wishes and judgment.
How long does a truck accident case take?
Civil cases generally take 1 to 3 years to resolve. If the case is complex, it may take longer. This is because there will likely be many witnesses who need to be deposed, many documents that need to be subpoenaed, and both sides will have to retain experts to support their cases. This can be a time-consuming process.
Yet, we will do our best to move your case as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality or compromising your case. We understand you want justice and the financial and emotional burden lifted off of your shoulders. Indeed, settlement and resolution can bring closure.
As William E. Gladstone famously said, “Justice delayed, is justice denied.” We will do our best to obtain swift justice.
What if the injured party (you) just wants to settle?
As I mentioned above, you, as the client, make the ultimate decision on settling your case. You have the power.
In some cases, it’s clear that the truck driver was negligent and that the truck accident caused your injuries. In cases like these, the negligent party may want to settle before you file a lawsuit and bring the claim to a close.
If this happens, we will help you prepare a demand and evaluate any settlement offers that the negligent party offers you. If the settlement is fair, reasonable, and contemplates all of your potential damages, then you should consider accepting it.
Again, you have the authority to make final decisions on settlement.
Can I settle my truck accident case on my own?
You can settle your truck accident case on your own. However, I would advise against it.
I have discussed this general topic in my blog. I encourage you to read the entire blog post, which can be found here: https://barthelettelaw.com/do-i-need-an-attorney-for-my-car-accident/.
According to an interesting study done by Martindale-Nolo Research, personal injury lawyers resolved personal injury claims for amounts three times higher than when clients represented themselves. This is a significant difference.
Effective personal injury legal representation makes a difference.
Can I file a wrongful death claim for a truck accident?
If you have a family member who did not survive a truck accident caused by the negligent or careless act of a truck driver, you are within your rights to file a wrongful death claim.
Florida’s wrongful death statute explains who can file and be a party to a wrongful death case, and what potential damages they can recover.
What must be done to win my truck accident case?
In short, you need to prove the truck driver owed you a duty of care. Then, you must show the truck driver breached that duty of care. Next, you must show the truck driver caused your injuries and damages. Finally, you must prove your damages.
Let’s break this down.
First comes the investigative work.
Your truck accident attorney should begin his or her investigation as soon as possible and attempt to build your case. This investigation will include identifying and interviewing witnesses, gathering medical records, and retaining experts when necessary. The primary purpose of this work is to identify what traffic rules or regulations the truck driver violated and how it affected you.
Your attorney will file a claim and discuss the claim with the negligent party’s insurance carrier. Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney may be able to resolve your claim without filing a lawsuit. However, if your attorney cannot, then you will have to file a lawsuit.
Second comes the lawsuit.
As noted above, a lawsuit can take anywhere between 1 to 3 years. During lawsuits, your personal injury attorney takes depositions, gathers medical records, and obtains other evidence to prove the truck driver is responsible for causing the accident and your injuries.
If you are not able to settle your case informally or during mediation, then you will go to trial.
Why is it so important to start an early investigation after a truck accident?
After a truck accident, trucking companies and their insurance companies are investigating the accident to build their defenses and protect their interests.
You must do the same.
Let me make sure to emphasize the importance of this issue.
START YOUR INVESTIGATION EARLY!
We call it Day 1.
Day 1 is about getting the medical treatment you need and making sure the investigation begins immediately. Day 1 is the start of your legal help.
Every day you delay Day 1 weakens your position.
Is it ok to post on social media?
It’s natural to want to let people into your life and see both the good and the bad times. But posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media is searchable on the internet, and searchable by the opposing party.
And yes, they will be searching.
Parties are allowed to conduct discovery on an opposing party’s social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all other social media platforms.
For example, what if your social media posts showed you taking a family vacation after an accident. The opposing party may argue that your health is fine, as evidenced by your taking a family vacation. Now, in response you could argue that you did not partake in any physical activities, were taking medication, and had to rest several times a day due to the pain. Even with these limitations being true, the optics of you being on a family vacation may still do damage and potentially hurt your case.
So it is important to be mindful and cautious of what you post.
Should I speak with the truck driver’s insurance company?
The trucking company and its insurance carriers, despite appearing harmless, are there to vigorously protect their own interests – not yours. There is nothing to gained by speaking to the trucking company, its insurance carrier, or any of their representatives.
Of course, understand they are just doing their job. If they call and happen to get you on the telephone, just be polite and request that they speak with your attorney.
If I was partially at fault for the truck accident can I still file a lawsuit?
Under Florida law, comparative negligence is a partial legal defense that reduces the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover in a personal injury case. For example, if a jury finds that a plaintiff is 50% responsible for causing an accident, then the plaintiff’s damages would be reduced by 50%.
So even if you were partially at fault for causing the accident, it does not mean you can not pursue a claim.
However, I must caution you that you should consult with a personal injury lawyer to help you determine whether, in fact, you were partially at fault for the truck accident. Personal injury lawyers have expertise in determining liability and can help see whether you are partially responsible for causing the truck accident.
So while you may think you are partially responsible for causing the accident, you may not be.
Should I hire a Boca Raton truck accident attorney?
As a general rule of thumb, it is always a good idea to contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your potential truck accident case.
I offer free consultations. I will be able to give you guidance on whether your potential case is worth pursuing.
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident attorney?
It does not cost you any money to hire a truck accident attorney. Truck accident attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means they do not get paid unless you are awarded a settlement or prevail at trial.
Once your claim is settled, the standard contingency fee rate is between 33.3% to 40%. The range depends on the fee set by the lawyer’s guidelines.
Additionally, any of the costs advanced by the personal injury attorney’s law firm will be reduced from the settlement. These costs can include court filing fees, deposition costs, expert costs, and costs to obtain records.
When should I hire a commercial truck accident attorney?
Contact a truck accident lawyer right after you are safe.
I can understand some injury victims might believe they need to focus on their recovery before deciding whether to pursue a personal injury claim. But time is critically important when it comes to personal injury claims, especially truck accident claims.
What do injury attorneys do when investigating trucking accidents?
A truck accident attorney in Boca Raton will interview witnesses, obtain photographs, obtain accident reports, request data from the truck’s black box, and other information and evidence that will build your case.
Additionally, and when possible, a truck accident attorney and his or her experts will try to inspect all vehicles involved in the truck accident.
Call Today To Get Help From A Boca Raton Trucking Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one are in an accident with a truck or large commercial vehicle, call Barthelette Law today to schedule a free consultation at (561) 246-4137.