An 18-wheeler truck is also known as a semi-trailer truck in Florida. These are large motor vehicles designed to transport heavy cargo. Many truck accidents involving these vehicles are fatal.
If you have lost a loved one or been injured in an 18-wheeler truck accident, you should contact an experienced Orlando truck accident lawyer. At The Law Place, we have a team of reputable lawyers who will work to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to for your Florida truck accident case.
To organize your free consultation with a reputable member of our team, phone us now.
Common Injuries Suffered in 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
An 18-wheeler truck accident victim that is lucky enough to survive will more than likely have suffered serious injuries. These large trucks have the potential to cause a great deal of harm. Some of the most common injuries suffered in these accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Head injuries.
- Neck injuries.
- Internal organ damage.
- Internal bleeding.
- Broken bones and fractures.
- Cuts and lacerations.
We advise that every Orlando truck accident victim gets checked over by a medical professional. Some victims assume that they haven’t suffered serious injuries and don’t bother seeking medical treatment. However, not all injuries are visible. Internal injuries, such as internal bleeding, can be fatal if not treated. A personal injury attorney can help you recover compensation to cover the costs of your medical bills at a later date.
Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Truck Accidents
Truck accidents involving 18-wheelers occur for a range of reasons. In some truck accident cases, truck drivers can be blamed for causing the accidents. However, most trucking accidents occur because of failings made by trucking companies. Regardless of who is at fault for your truck accident, if you have suffered injuries, you will more than likely be entitled to compensation.
Below we have stated some of the most common causes of these accidents and how trucking companies are often held liable.
Many people refer to driver fatigue as drowsy driving. Unfortunately, many truck accidents occur because truck drivers fall asleep behind the wheel. When a truck driver becomes drowsy, they will likely lose attention and control. Losing control of an 18-wheeler commercial truck is disastrous. They have the potential to crush other vehicles that they collide with.
Although many people assume that a truck driver is at fault for causing this type of accident, this is not always the case. A trucking company may have implemented strict deadlines that force their truck drivers to work long hours. The pressure put on a driver to meet their deadlines may result in them driving for longer than what they are legally allowed to. If an Orlando truck accident lawyer can prove that a trucking company has unrealistic expectations of their drivers, they can be sued for the tractor-trailer accident.
Insufficient Truck Driver Training
Everyone who drives commercial trucks in Orlando is required to complete hours of training before they can drive these vehicles on the road. They must also work to obtain their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Unfortunately, some drivers skip or cheat their way through this training. Inadequate training is a major cause of semi-truck accidents in Orlando. These vehicles are difficult to drive and maneuver, one little mistake while driving them can be catastrophic.
Large tractor-trailer trucks, 18-wheelers, travel thousands of kilometers every week. Not only do they drive across the state, but also the country. The amount of traveling that they complete means that they are more susceptible to mechanical issues than average passenger vehicles. For example, it is not uncommon for these trucks to suffer from flat tires, worn-out brakes, and broken lights.
It is the responsibility of a trucking company to ensure that its fleet of trucks is regularly serviced and safe. If an Orlando truck accident attorney can prove that a trucking company deliberately failed to service their vehicles to save money, they can be sued. It is not fair for truck accident victims to suffer because of the negligence of these companies.
Imbalance of Cargo
As already established, 18-wheeler trucks are designed to haul heavy cargo. If truck drivers do not secure this cargo properly, it can shift during transit. This is dangerous because shifting cargo can cause a truck to become imbalanced. A truck that is out of balance is difficult to control. There is a great chance that an unbalanced 18-wheeler truck can tip over while attempting to turn.
Distracted driving is a common cause of all traffic accidents in Orlando. Although, this can be more of an issue for 18-wheeler truck drivers than the average passenger car driver. This is because these truck drivers spend hours behind the wheel every day. Unsurprisingly, they are prone to becoming bored. Bored truck drivers will try and find ways to entertain themselves while on the road. Although it is illegal, many truck drivers use their cell phones while driving. Furthermore, it is common for drivers to play with their navigation systems, eat food, and listen to music while driving.
A distracted truck driver is dangerous because their attention on the road is reduced. They may not be fully aware of their surroundings and collide with a hazard and/ or other vehicles.
Driving over the legal speed limit in Orlando is a criminal offense. It is a dangerous act because it reduces the time a driver has to stop their vehicle once they spot a hazard ahead. 18-wheeler trucks have a much greater stopping distance than the average car.
Careless truck drivers can also cause truck accidents when they drive unreasonably quickly in certain conditions. For example, in wet and icy conditions, drivers of large trucks should take extra caution while driving. In poor road conditions, they will not have much grip on the road. Driving too quickly can cause the truck to lose traction and control.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
It is illegal to operate motor vehicles in Florida while intoxicated. Truck drivers face stricter intoxication laws than the average road user. This is because commercial truck drivers cannot drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02% or above. Most other road users will only get arrested if they are caught with a BAC of .08% or above.
It is dangerous to drive while intoxicated because it slows down reaction times. In addition, it can cause drivers to make errors as they stop thinking rationally. If an 18-wheeler driver is caught driving under the influence, they will lose their professional commercial license. Truck drivers need to be aware that over-the-counter and prescription medication have the potential of tipping their BAC over the legal limit.
How Truck Accidents Differ from Car Accidents
The first way that truck accidents differ from car accidents is that there is a difference in ownership. Most 18-wheeler trucks are commercially owned, unlike privately owned passenger vehicles. This difference in ownership can make it more difficult to recover compensation in high-value truck accident claims. In these cases, victims will have to deal with large commercial vehicle companies and their strong legal teams.
Furthermore, a car accident differs from a truck accident because both vehicles are subject to different laws. Commercial trucks are subject to both federal and state regulations. If these regulations are breached, it can impact the value of a truck accident claim. Navigating all these laws and regulations is tricky. Therefore, if you have a high-value personal injury case and are battling a commercial trucking company, you should hire an Orlando truck accident lawyer. You will give yourself your best chance of success by seeking reputable and professional legal assistance.
Federal Laws Regarding 18-Wheeler Trucks
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has the responsibility of overseeing the trucking industry in the United States. They have been involved in the passing of federal laws that restrict and regulate the behaviors of both trucking companies and drivers. We have outlined some of these regulations below.
Hours of Service
The FMCSA regulates the number of hours that truck drivers can safely drive for in a shift. Drivers of commercial trucks can drive for a maximum of 11 hours during a 14-hour shift. They are then required to rest and sleep for 10 hours before driving again. These restrictions on the hours of service of drivers were introduced to reduce the number of truck accidents caused by driver fatigue.
Every truck driver must log their hours of service electronically. This log will be reported on a paper trail. Federal investigators regularly spot-check commercial vehicles to see if drivers are driving for an unlawful length of time.
Truck Driver Training
18-wheeler trucks are far more difficult to drive than the average passenger vehicle. It is then a requirement for all drivers to gain and carry a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). To gain one of these licenses drivers need to show that they have sufficient knowledge and experience to safely operate a large vehicle.
For commercial trucks that are tasked with transporting hazardous cargo, drivers will be required to undertake additional testing. Some of these hazardous materials include oil, gas, radioactive products, and chemical products.
Truck Driver Sobriety
It is illegal for a commercial truck driver to operate an 18-wheeler vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02% or more. Furthermore, they are not allowed to carry bottles of alcohol or illegal substances in their vehicle. An exception is made if alcohol makes up part of their cargo. All drivers are subjected to random testing to ensure they are not operating their vehicles while intoxicated.
Physical and Mental Health
Drivers of large 18-wheeler trucks must undergo physical fitness tests every two years. If test results indicate that their physical and/ or mental health is poor, they can have their commercial vehicle licenses revoked. Although this can be upsetting for some drivers as they can lose their livelihoods, it is in the interest of public safety.
It has already been established that an imbalance of cargo in a truck can be disastrous. Therefore, all drivers have to learn how to load and secure cargo safely to gain their licenses.
State Laws Regarding 18-Wheeler Trucks
The state of Florida has implemented some additional laws that apply to 18-wheeler trucks traveling through the state. These include:
- Drivers need to carry tags and registration at all times.
- Drivers must display a valid Department of Transportation or state number on their trucks.
- Fuel decals are required for all vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds, drive on the interstate, and have more than three axles.
- All trucks must be regularly serviced and in adequate working order.
- Trucks cannot weigh more than 80,000 pounds.
- Trucks cannot be taller than 13’6″.
What to Do After Suffering a Truck Accident in Orlando
If you ever find yourself involved in an 18-wheeler truck accident, there are a few things you can do to protect your physical health, mental health, financial wealth, and legal rights. These include:
- Stay Calm. These accidents cause catastrophic injuries, and if you have suffered spinal cord injuries, you need to stay calm and still.
- Call Emergency Services. If no one else has dialed 9-1-1 already, you must call the police and paramedics if necessary.
- Collect Evidence. In the interest of your future personal injury claim, it is advisable to gather evidence. This can include taking photos, taking videos, gathering contact information of witnesses, and gaining a copy of the police report.
- Don’t Make a Statement. You must refrain from admitting fault or apologizing in a statement. Everything you say following your truck accident can be held against your case.
- Contact an Orlando Truck Accident Lawyer. We advise contacting a Florida truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can advise you on how to act and offer you some honest legal advice.
- Visit a Medical Professional. You should see a doctor even if you think you have only suffered minor injuries. A medical professional needs to rule out any sinister injuries.
Do I Need to Call the Police After an 18-Wheeler Truck Accident?
If you have been involved in an 18-wheeler truck accident in Orlando, you will more than likely need to call the police. In minor accident cases where no injuries or property damage has been suffered, you won’t need them to attend the scene. However, the vast majority of these cases are catastrophic. A police presence will be required to control the accident scene, clear the road, and assist injured victims.
In cases where police have not attended the traffic accident scenes, those involved have the responsibility of filing a report within 10 days of a completed investigation. This is a legal requirement that is outlined under Florida Statute 316.066. Failing to complete and submit these reports is a criminal offense.
Can I Sue a Trucking Company?
The state of Florida is a no-fault state. This means that most people who suffer truck accident injuries will first turn to their own insurance company to recover compensation. All drivers in Florida are required to have a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance policy with medical coverage of $10,000.
However, if you have suffered catastrophic injuries, your medical expenses may exceed your PIP limit. In these truck accident cases, victims can seek compensation from the trucking company’s insurance provider. With help from a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer, you will be able to sue a trucking company to try and recover the compensation you deserve. Our lawyers are not afraid of these large companies and their legal teams. Your lawyer will gather evidence to build you a case so strong that a trucking company will have no choice but to pay out.
How Orlando Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You
If you are considering hiring legal representation, we can inform you of some of the benefits of hiring a lawyer. Our truck accident lawyers in Orlando can help you in a range of ways. Firstly, they will be able to investigate your truck accident case to fathom how much money you are entitled to receive in compensation.
Secondly, a lawyer can act as your legal representation. They will handle all the necessary paperwork with your insurance company on your behalf. In addition, they will represent your case in all negotiations and the courtroom. All of the hard work will be taken care of.
Thirdly, a lawyer will be a huge figure of support in your life. There is no doubt that suffering an 18-wheeler truck accident is traumatic. Your lawyer can be a firm shoulder to learn on. They will guide you through every step of the legal process, answer your questions, and help you navigate complex personal injury laws.
Do I Legally Need to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
It is not a legal requirement to hire a lawyer after suffering a truck accident. You are within your right to represent your case and seek financial compensation alone.
Although it is possible to go at it alone, we advise against it. People who choose not to hire legal representation are far more likely to receive settlements less than what they deserve. The presence of a lawyer proves to insurance companies that the victim is taking their case seriously. By having a reputable Florida truck accident lawyer backing your case, you will give yourself the best chance you’ve got of achieving the maximum amount of compensation possible.
The Cost of Hiring an Orlando Truck Accident Attorney
If you decide to hire one of our attorneys at The Law Place, you will not encounter any up-front costs. This is because we operate on a contingency-fee-basis. You may be more familiar with the term no-win-no-fee basis. Simply, you will not have to pay your attorney anything until they successfully help you recover compensation. Once you have received a settlement you are satisfied with, a small percentage of the amount achieved will cover the legal fees of your attorney.
Therefore, you will lose nothing by hiring an attorney to help with your personal injury claim. Our contingency-fee work, along with the practice of other law firms in Florida, is monitored by the Florida Bar Association. You can feel rest assured that we are a reputable law firm.
When to File 18-Wheeler Truck Accident Claims
The law in Florida, Florida statute 95.11, states that injury victims only have four years following the date of their accident to file personal injury claims and/ or lawsuits. This law is included in Florida’s statute of limitations. Once these years have passed, recovering compensation becomes near impossible. Therefore, the sooner you file your claim, the better.
Not only this, but the law states that relatives of lost loved ones only have two years to make wrongful death claims.
The Amount of Compensation You Could Recover
The financial settlement you could achieve from your insurance company and/ or insurance provider for a trucking company will depend on several factors. Some of the factors include:
- How severe your injuries are.
- How much property damage you have suffered.
- The number of wages you have lost.
- The impact on your earning capacity.
- The impact on your mental health.
The Length of Personal Injury Lawsuits
Unfortunately, accident cases involving 18-wheeler trucks generally result in lengthy lawsuits. This is because victims and their legal teams have to deal with major trucking companies and their solid lawyers. A trucking company will do all it can to avoid being held liable and paying out to victims. We understand that this is frustrating, but it is worth persisting.
These accident cases are typically high-value. There could be millions of dollars on the line. It is important to hire a reputable law firm that isn’t afraid to take on these companies.
Contact The Law Place Today!
If you or someone you love has been injured in an 18-wheeler truck accident in Orlando, you need to act fast. You will more than likely be entitled to a huge sum of compensation.
Our Orlando truck accident lawyers have helped countless clients with their personal injury cases. They can use all their knowledge and experience to help you too.
To begin your legal journey, you must contact The Law Place. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To schedule your free legal consultation with us, call us now at (941)-444-4444.