The State of Florida sees thousands of cars traveling on its roads and highways every day. Many of these vehicles are large commercial trucks taking products from one place to another, often journeying across long distances at a time. Unfortunately, driving a vehicle weighing tonnes under a time constraint can lead to truck drivers making rash decisions that end in disaster. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), around 400,000 car accidents happen in Florida every year. Of this number, many have severe consequences resulting in fatalities.
The extent of the destruction that occurs in truck accidents comes from the huge difference in weight and size between cars and trucks. Driving a car alongside a large truck puts you at serious risk of being injured. Of course, the consequences are not limited to physical injuries but can cause extensive damage to your property, emotional suffering, and wrongful death. It has been shown by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that an empty truck weighs 9 times more than the average car. If the truck has been loaded with cargo, this number increases drastically, weighing 20 times more than a car. This is why the State of Florida has such strict rules that attempt to prevent truck accidents from happening. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident that wasn’t your fault, then you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. At The Law Place, we have dealt with cases just like yours and know exactly what steps to take to ensure that you are compensated. We have over 75 years of combined experience in successfully representing our clients, helping them to get their lives back on track. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team at (941) 444-4444.
How Is Tailgating Defined in Florida?
Florida Statute 316.0895 defines tailgating as driving behind a vehicle ‘more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due disregard for the speed of such vehicles and traffic upon, and the condition of, the highway.’ In other words, drivers must make sure to keep a reasonable distance between their vehicle and the one in front. In the event that a vehicle has to make a sudden stop, there will be plenty of time for the car behind to react accordingly.
In order the make the road a safer place to travel, everyone must understand how dangerous driving can be. Exercising caution at all times whilst behind the wheel can save both your own life and that of someone else. Despite the obvious dangers and history of accidents, tailgating continues to be one of the most common causes of truck accidents in America, according to The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The weight of a truck makes it extremely difficult for the driver to stop the vehicle as quickly as they may need to. This increases the chance of a collision happening in general, but the chances increase significantly if the truck is tailgating at the time.
What Should You Do if a Truck Is Tailgating Your Vehicle?
The best thing to do if you are being tailgated by a truck is to stay calm and avoid making any maneuvers that might increase the chances of a truck accident happening, such as increasing your speed. Trying to create more space by speeding up can anger the driver behind you and, unfortunately, may encourage them to also increase their speed, continuing to tailgate but now in more dangerous conditions. However, we also advise against slowing down in order to deter a tailgater. The driver may not be paying attention to the road, or their reactions may not be quick enough to adjust their speed according to yours.
We understand that it is frustrating and stressful to be tailgated, and when a truck is involved, frightening too. However, acting on emotion is unwise, and a lack of calmness can put you in a more dangerous situation. Try taking a methodical approach that will help to ensure your safety and that of other drivers as well. Move from your lane into the right-hand lane and give the truck an opportunity to pass, if possible.
Recording the license plate, name of the trucking company, and phone number are also advisable. When you are no longer on the road, report the incident to the local authorities and ensure that this truck driver is made aware that their negligence has not gone unnoticed. This way, you may be able to prevent someone from suffering from an accident in the future.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident in Port Charlotte, Florida?
If you have been involved in a truck accident in Port Charlotte, FL., there are some initial steps that are important to take. The priority is always your safety and wellbeing, so you should start by moving to a safer place away from the scene of the crash if you can. Ideally, you should move behind the barrier where you are not at risk of being hit by oncoming vehicles. However, we understand that this might not always be possible. In the event that you cannot reach the traffic barrier, move as far from the accident as possible.
When you have moved to a safer location, scan your body for any injuries. If there are others around, make sure that they too have moved to a safe place. However, be sure to check that they are not seriously injured before moving them or that you are not putting yourself in harm’s way when helping. After completing this step, you should contact the emergency services, particularly the police, who will need to make a police report that will be extremely helpful down the line. It is also important to remember that you are legally obliged to call the police as soon as possible.
At this point, you are safe, and so are the other people involved in the truck accident. You have also contacted the police and any other relevant authorities. Now it is time to begin collecting evidence. Time is precious following a truck accident, and evidence can be lost extremely quickly. Witnesses will leave, and the crash itself will be cleared away. Therefore, you must act with haste and get as much information as possible. There are some key pieces of evidence that you can collect at the scene of the accident and use later to strengthen your compensation claim, including:
- Taking the details of all the vehicles involved in the crash. These details include the makes, models, and license plates of the vehicles.
- Taking photographs of the scene. If you are able to, photograph everything at the scene which might later be relevant. Some examples are the crash itself, the road, all vehicles around, the weather, and any debris that is on the road.
- Taking the personal information of the truck driver who caused the truck accident. Record their name, address, phone number, trucking company, insurance company, and registration number.
- Taking contact details from all the witnesses at the scene. Make sure to write down their names and phone numbers because you may need them to testify on your behalf later down the line.
- Drawing a sketch of the accident if you cannot take any photographs. Cell phones are often damaged in car accidents, leaving you unable to record the scene, but making a sketch can also be useful later.
- Recording the details of the police officers who attend the truck accident. Make sure you have a note of the names and badge numbers of every officer at the scene. Your truck accident lawyer will use these details later when looking at the police report.
- Keeping every medical record related to the truck accident will also be extremely helpful. Every prescription, appointment, and treatment will cost you money, so keeping a record will show exactly how much you have suffered and will help to increase the amount of compensation you receive.
You might be surprised by how much this evidence will influence your insurance claim. It will only help to strengthen your case, so make sure to be thorough when collecting these pieces of information. Once you have as much evidence as possible, get in contact with one of our truck accident attorneys. We will start by reviewing what you have been able to compile and start to collect any additional evidence that we can use to strengthen your case further, like statements from witnesses. However, it is important to know that all the key evidence will likely be at the scene of the collision on the day of the truck accident. This evidence will be invaluable to your case. If you have any doubts about the information you have managed to collect, call The Law Place and schedule a free consultation today. One of our truck accident attorneys will review the evidence and give you advice on what steps you can take next.
How Are Truck Accidents Investigated in Port Charlotte, FL?
In order to launch an investigation into your truck accident case, you will need to choose a law firm to work with. Making sure you take the time to choose a truck accident lawyer that you trust will make your case stronger in the long run. Contact a number of law firms and utilize their free case evaluation services. Prepare questions beforehand and remember to find out about their previous experience with similar truck accident cases.
Once you have made a decision on your representation, they will work to find more evidence to support your case and catalog the information you have already found. All of this must be done before an investigation can be launched. Therefore, the quicker you find a truck accident lawyer and provide the information you have, the quicker they can start strengthening your case and contact your insurance company.
There is another reason to move quickly too. Your truck accident attorney will need information from the trucking company and their insurance company. If any of these details are incriminating, they will certainly help your case significantly. However, if given the time, these large corporations will tamper with the evidence in order to avoid compensating you. This is a common practice that is used to save time and money. Of course, this is highly illegal. Nonetheless, once it has been done, it is very hard to prove and often goes unpunished.
Most of the trucks that are on the roads of Port Charlotte, FL., have an Event Data Recorder (EDR) installed inside. This is a black box that records data and can be used in your case. Your truck accident attorney will recover this data and use it to get a clearer idea of what the truck was doing before, during, and after the accident. Oftentimes, this data will show that the truck driver was, in fact, acting negligently. Maybe this information will help to prove that truck was speeding or breaking other important safety regulations, and this will be imperative to the success of your case. If you have hired an experienced accident lawyer, they will know how to extract and investigate the data stored on the truck’s EDR.
Once this evidence has been collected, your attorney will move onto the next step: investigating the scene of the crash. There are many different possible causes of truck accidents, and it is not necessarily the truck driver who is solely responsible. Your attorney will look at the entire scene, including the traffic lights, signage, and condition of the road. Plus, they will begin interviewing witnesses in order to build a clearer picture of the order of events that led to it happening. Further interviews will also be conducted with the trucking company employees and the investigators at your insurance companies. At this point, your truck accident attorney will also request the police report that was filed.
What Damages Can I Claim in a Tailgating Truck Accident Case in Florida?
Truck accidents can have many different effects on those involved. You are entitled to be compensated for any and all suffering you have faced as a result, including:
- Medical expenses – Truck accidents often cause serious injuries to anyone caught up in the crash. Unfortunately, medical bills build rapidly and are extremely expensive, particularly if you need ongoing treatments or prescriptions. Luckily, you are entitled to compensation for both past and future costs.
- Loss of income – If you have been injured in a truck accident, then you will probably need time off work. You can claim for all income that you have lost and any that you will lose in the future.
- Pain and suffering – Any emotional, physical, and mental suffering you have endured can be included in your claim. This can hard to define exactly and is, therefore, difficult to put a number on. However, your attorney will be able to calculate exactly what you are entitled to.
- Property damage – The chances are you have suffered property during your accident. Your vehicle is almost certainly in need of repairs, and personal property like your cellphone may have been damaged too. All of this can be compensated.
- Wrongful death – In a worst-case scenario, a truck accident can cause fatalities. This often leaves families without an income that they rely on, as well as funeral costs to cover. This is why Florida Statute 768.21 is in place. It allows the families of victims to get compensation in the face of such a tragedy.
One thing to remember is that Florida Statute 627.736 only gives you up to 14 days to get medical attention before you are no longer entitled to claim compensation for your injuries and treatment. If you need further advice on what damages you can include in your claim, contact a truck accident attorney at The Law Place today.
Contact The Law Place Today
At The Law Place, we understand the stress and trauma that families face in the wake of a truck accident. We also understand how daunting it can be to face both the legal system in Florida and large corporations like insurance companies. This is why we are so passionate about ensuring that our attorney-client relationships are based on trust and reassurance.
In working with us, you will receive advice from a team of truck accident lawyers who have a wealth of knowledge and over 75 years of combined experience. Plus, you have an advocate who can file all the necessary paperwork, collate evidence, and communicate with your insurance company. This will leave you the time to focus on yourself and allow you to make a speedy recovery.
If the cost of legal representation is a concern, then you’ll be pleased to know that we work on a contingency basis only. This means that you won’t pay a cent until your settlement has been awarded. So, if your case is unsuccessful, you won’t find yourself out of pocket. Call us today and schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys at (941) 444-4444. We are waiting for your call!