Tampa Truck Accident Lawyer

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Tampa Truck Accident Attorney

Any type of auto accident can result in mental trauma and devastating injuries. However, severe and debilitating injuries are much more common when the auto accident involves a semi or other large commercial truck. Filing a claim to cover damages in a truck accident can be much more complex due to truck companies, insurance companies, and complicated liability. A Tampa truck accident lawyer is an essential ally when filing these claims.

Truck accidents are more likely to result in fatalities and life-long disabling injuries to those in passenger cars. Commercial vehicles are larger and much heavier than passenger cars, especially when they are carrying cargo. In head-on collisions between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks, those in a car will likely suffer fatal injuries. A Tampa truck accident lawyer can help with many of these issues.

Even when those in cars do not die from their injuries, their entire lives can be altered due to disfigurement, scarring, and disability. Individuals and their families can be under severe financial strain due to surgery costs, physical therapy bills, long-term care, property damage to their vehicle and other items, a loss of income, and, for some, the inability to ever return to work.

When you are not at fault for the accident, you should not be responsible for these costs. A personal injury claim can provide compensation for these damages, enabling injured individuals to maintain financial stability as they recover or adjust to a new way of life. An experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa is essential to getting the maximum compensation you deserve after a truck accident.

Exceptional Legal Representation for Tampa Truck Accidents

After a car accident in Florida, most injured parties file with their own insurance provider. Under the state’s no-fault law, it can feel like you are unable to recover damages in other ways. This is not always the case. The damages in a truck accident typically exceed the coverage provided by your insurance, meaning you can file a civil claim.

Paul Figueroa Law can help you maximize the compensation you earn through your own insurance claim and a civil personal injury claim. Our team has been working in various areas of law for more than 14 years, and we can provide you with the resources and legal support you need to prove who is at fault for your accident. An in-depth investigation is necessary to determine the party at fault in a truck accident, and we can investigate your accident to help you pursue your claim.

At our firm, we are proud to aid those in our community who have been injured and need support in negotiations and civil claims court. We know that you are likely struggling after a truck accident and want to do what we can to get you the coverage you deserve.

Understanding Liability in Truck Accident Claims

Determining fault and liability is an important step in filing a claim. Florida is a no-fault state for car accidents, which means drivers must first file a claim with their own insurance provider before filing any personal injury claims. The injuries in truck accidents commonly exceed the damages covered by a driver’s own car insurance and result in long-term disabling or disfiguring injuries. This means that the injured driver can often file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.

In order to file this claim, the injured parties must determine who is at fault and can be held liable for the damages. Truck accident liability is complex because there could be multiple parties to blame for the accident. Parties that may be at fault for a truck accident include:

  • The truck driver
  • The driver’s employer or trucking company
  • The manufacturer of a vehicle component
  • A third-party loading company or business
  • The owner of the truck cab or trailer
  • Other drivers on the road

A thorough investigation is necessary to determine the cause or causes of the accident and the parties who were negligent. When any involved party acts negligently, causing the accident, that party is legally and financially liable for damages. If a trucking company is liable for your truck accident, their insurance company will be involved, which makes it more difficult to get the damages coverage that you deserve.

Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident

Drivers on the road in Florida have a duty of care to drive with reasonable care and protect the safety of those alongside whom they are driving. This duty of care also exists for truck drivers. Truck drivers are held to a higher duty of care on the road because they must apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). These high standards are also put in place by federal and state guidelines due to the significant damage that commercial vehicles can do to people and property.

When drivers fail to uphold this duty of care, they may be liable for the accident. However, like for any vehicle operator, there are many accident-causing factors that are not within the driver’s control.

In order to prove that a truck driver, another driver, or some other party is liable for the damages in an accident, you must prove that the party was acting negligently, recklessly, or engaging in intentional misconduct. In car and truck accidents, negligence is the most common cause of a party being liable. However, there are some cases where fault is assigned due to illegal behavior or intentional misconduct. The four elements of fault you must prove are:

  1. The party who is allegedly at fault, or the defendant, owed a duty of care to you;
  2. The defendant breached that duty of care by acting negligently or with purposeful misconduct;
  3. You suffered actual harm from the accident, such as economic or noneconomic damages that are recognized by the court; and
  4. The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the accident, and the accident and resulting injuries were not caused by something else.

If you and your attorney have sufficient proof of all the elements of fault, your personal injury claim is likely to be successful. In a personal injury claim, you have the right to recover all your legally recognized damages from the at-fault party. This may include medical bills and long-term rehabilitative care.

The Common Causes of Trucking Accidents in Tampa

There are often multiple causes of truck accidents, from driver negligence to companies failing to take care of commercial vehicles. The most common causes of accidents include:

Faulty Vehicle Component

Any motor vehicle can cause an accident when essential systems break down, but the damage caused by commercial vehicles is much more significant. If the failure of an essential component of a truck caused the accident, the manufacturer or distributor of the component could be liable for the accident.

Distracted Driving

A truck driver or others on the road may be liable for driving distracted. Drivers who text, talk on the phone, manipulate the radio or GPS, eat, drink, or talk with others in the car are driving distracted. Any action that takes a driver’s eyes, hands, or attention from the road can cause an accident, and the driver can be at fault.

Improper Maintenance

Truck system failures and malfunctions can also be caused by a lack of maintenance or poorly done maintenance. Commercial trucks need significantly more maintenance than other vehicles due to their high levels of use. If a trucking company cuts corners and costs by failing to maintain their trucks, these trucks may fail on the road and cause accidents.

Alternately, if maintenance was done but was conducted poorly, this can also cause truck system failures. This may also be the fault of a truck company or a third party hired to complete the maintenance.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Any driver operating a motor vehicle should not be impaired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There is an even lower tolerance for CDL drivers. While most drivers in Florida have a legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC), CDL drivers have a legal limit of 0.04% BAC. Driving under the influence is illegal and puts everyone on the road in danger, especially when driving a large and heavy truck.

A truck driver does not have to be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs to be impaired. Driving while using certain prescription drugs and medications can also be considered a DUI if it is a significant amount and affects the driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely.

Improperly Loaded Trailer

When the cargo in a truck trailer is loaded improperly, this can cause an accident. Overloading the truck can put a strain on the truck components and could cause the brakes to fail or the tires to blow out. If the cargo is loaded unevenly, the truck is more likely to tip, roll over, or jackknife while on the road. The failure to safely load a commercial vehicle could be the fault of the trucking company, loading company, or other third party.

Driver Fatigue

When truck drivers operate their vehicles fatigued, accidents are much more likely. Driving fatigue slows reaction speed and can impair a driver’s judgment. Although there are federal regulations for how long truck drivers can remain on the road and regulating the amount of rest they receive, these regulations are not always followed.

The failure to meet regulations may be the driver’s fault or the fault of the trucking company for encouraging drivers to ignore regulations. Trucking companies or loading companies may also have unrealistic deadlines for truck drivers, forcing them to drive longer than they should to meet these deadlines.

Aggressive Driving

Truck drivers and passenger vehicle drivers can cause accidents by driving recklessly or aggressively. Actions such as speeding, driving too fast for traffic and road conditions, sideswiping, changing lanes without checking blind spots, or tailgating are all forms of reckless and dangerous driving.

Speeding limits the amount of time drivers have to react to road changes and increases the damage of an accident. When truck drivers sideswipe other cars, they can catch the car underneath the truck trailer.

Driver Errors

Drivers can make mistakes that cause accidents. Making a mistake is not always a breach of duty of care, but it could be. Moving violations, such as running a stop light or stop sign or failing to yield the right of way, can cause accidents and result in the driver being held liable for damages. When trucks are involved in moving violations, damages can be much more serious.

Unknown Roadway

Truck drivers often travel far distances to locations they are unfamiliar with. Accidents can be caused by a driver not knowing the roadway they are driving on or not having sufficient training to navigate their route. This may be the fault of the trucking company or the driver.

Bad Weather or Road Conditions

Hazardous conditions such as uneven roads, storms, fog, slippery roadways, high winds, and congested traffic can all cause accidents. In some cases, there is no specific at-fault party.

However, governmental or private agencies responsible for the road condition can be held responsible if potholes, cracks, or drainage failures cause an accident. Passenger car and truck drivers can be responsible for failing to respond appropriately to the weather or traffic conditions by not driving cautiously or slowing down.

Comparative Negligence in Tampa

Florida operates under comparative negligence laws when determining fault in any personal injury claim. As of early 2023, Florida changed from pure comparative negligence to modified comparative negligence laws.

Modified comparative negligence means that an injured party can recover damages for their injuries if they were less than 50% liable for the accident. Under previous laws, an injured party could claim damages even if they were 99% liable, but this is no longer the case. Comparative negligence laws do not have any impact on an injured party’s claim with their own insurance provider, only on a personal injury claim if they are able to file one.

Under modified comparative negligence, an injured party’s final settlement will be determined and then reduced by their percentage fault in the accident. These laws allow you, as an injured party, to claim a portion of the damages you suffered when they are mostly the fault of another party or other parties.

What Evidence Do I Need to Prove Fault in a Truck Accident?

In order to prove the at-fault party in a truck accident, you need significant evidence as to the cause of the accident. Your Tampa truck accident attorney has the resources to gather this information. In order to prove a driver or other party behaved negligently and caused the accident, you may need evidence such as:

  • Eyewitness Testimony: Third parties who saw the accident or other individuals like passengers can provide additional information about the accident. Eyewitness testimony can provide evidence about who was at fault.
  • Traffic Camera, Dash Cam, and other CCTV Footage: Video from traffic cams, the CCTV of nearby businesses or homes, or any other cameras that caught the accident can be exceptional impartial evidence to show the cause of the accident.
  • Driver Schedules: Obtaining the schedule maintained by the trucking company, the logs of the particular truck driver, or black box information can be useful evidence. This can show if the driver was working more hours than they should have or was made to meet extreme deadlines.
  • Phone Data: Cell phone records can be important evidence if they show that a driver was texting while driving.
  • Expert Witness Testimony: Professional accident reconstructionists, medical providers, and other expert witnesses can be useful in showing who was at fault for the accident.

Because no two truck accidents are the same, the evidence to show the at-fault party will also differ. Although each accident is unique, an experienced truck accident attorney will be able to use their years of experience to determine the likely causes of your specific type of accident. There are common occurrences in different types of truck accidents, and an attorney with knowledge of these accidents could more effectively handle your claim.

How Long Do You Have to Get a Lawyer After a Truck Accident in Florida?

You should get an attorney as soon as possible after a truck accident. There are several deadlines present in a truck accident claim in Tampa, including that of your own insurance claim and the deadline for a personal injury claim if you qualify to file one.

After a truck accident, obtain medical care as soon as possible. Truck accidents often result in debilitating injuries that require emergency medical care. In the rare situation that you do not think you are injured, get medical care anyway. Some injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, are not readily apparent to non-professionals. In order for your own auto insurance to cover the costs of medical care, you must receive healthcare within 14 days of the accident in Tampa.

The exact timeline for filing an auto insurance claim varies depending on your insurance provider. Typically, insurance providers expect you to file your claim as soon as possible. When your auto insurance claim does not cover all your damages in a truck accident due to the severity of the injuries, you can file a civil claim.

For a personal injury claim like a truck accident claim, you must file within four years from the date of the accident. Although this statute of limitations may seem like a significant amount of time, it’s important to file as soon as you can. If you wait too long, vital evidence that supports your claim, such as witness testimony or CCTV, may be lost. Without this evidence, you may be unable to regain the damages you deserve.

The closer you are to the statute of limitations, the harder it will be to find an attorney to represent you. This is because it is less likely that the case will succeed, and an attorney needs time to investigate your accident and build your claim, typically before filing. A tight timeframe makes this hard to do successfully.

If the statute of limitations expires, you lose your right to claim any damages at all. When you are involved in a truck accident claim in Tampa, contact an experienced semi-truck accident attorney as soon as you can.

What Damages Can You Recover in a Truck Accident Claim?

Under state law, you have the right to recover all legally recognized damages that you suffered due to the at-fault party’s actions. In order to recover these damages, you must have clear documentation of the damages you suffered. You may be able to recover all economic and noneconomic damages directly associated with the accident and injury, including:

  • Property Damage: Any outstanding damage to your vehicle or property that was not covered by your insurance claim can be covered by a civil personal injury claim. This includes repairs or replacement costs for your vehicle and the replacement costs for a phone or other costly items in the car that were damaged or destroyed.
  • Medical Treatment Bills: Any current and future medical bills that are directly caused by the accident are compensable. This may include surgeries, hospital stays, transportation to the hospital, physical therapy, medication costs, mobility aids, medical devices, and any other medical costs.
  • Lost Income: Some injuries require you to miss work, while other injuries prevent you from ever returning to work. A personal injury claim recovers the wages you lost during time off and the impact on your future earning capacity due to disability or incapacitation.
  • Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering are a form of noneconomic damages, which do not have a set value but instead reflect the intangible losses you suffer after a truck accident. This may include loss of quality of life, emotional trauma, and physical pain.

Surviving family members can seek certain damages due to the loss of a loved one in a wrongful death claim.

Get the Legal Support You Need From a Tampa Truck Accident Lawyer

At Paul Figueroa Law, our team has worked for years to support clients in the Tampa community who need support after a personal injury. We know how painful and frustrating it is to deal with injuries from a truck accident, and we aim to maximize the damages you earn as efficiently as possible.

The injuries from a truck accident can impact your life for years, and it is essential that you get reasonable and complete compensation for those injuries and other damages. We advocate for your needs during negotiation but are willing and able to fight for you in the courtroom if a fair settlement cannot be reached. Contact Paul Figueroa Law today to learn how our team can support you and your loved ones.

Practice Areas

Criminal Defense
Personal Injury