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Bradenton Truck Accident Lawyer

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A collision with a tractor-trailer or other big rig can be fatal. If it’s not fatal, severe injuries are extremely likely, and the result can be lifechanging. As a victim of a truck accident, it can overwhelming to try and focus on your healing while your medical bills are skyrocketing and your finances are being deeply affected, but we can take that pressure off of your shoulders. A Bradenton truck accident lawyer will fight to hold those responsible for your injuries liable.

At Kogan & DiSalvo, a Bradenton personal injury lawyer will protect your rights and fight for you so that you may receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Major Causes of Truck Accidents in Bradenton 

A red semi-truck driving down the highway in Florida with a sign for Linton Blvd ahead

The most common causes of truck accidents in Bradenton include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driver fatigue
  • Driver inexperience
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Improper truck maintenance
  • Improperly loaded or secured cargo
  • Physical roadway hazards
  • Speeding
  • Weather conditions

Role of Commercial Truck Regulations

A white semi-truck driving down the road towards the sun

Tractor-trailers must adhere to strict federal and state trucking regulations. Overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), these rules focus on driver qualifications, hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). In addition, trucking companies must establish drug and alcohol testing programs for drivers.

Under federal regulations, drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. They cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Drivers may not drive more than 60 to 70 hours on duty in seven to eight consecutive days. A driver may restart a seven to eight consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Florida State-Specific Trucking Laws

Red triangle warning sign set out next to an SUV on the side of the highway at dusk

While truck drivers on interstate routes must follow federal trucking laws, many commercial trucks only travel on intrastate routes. These drivers must follow Florida’s specific trucking laws, as per the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These regulations include:

  • Drivers may drive for 12 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. 
  • Drivers may not drive after the 16th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers are not permitted to drive after 70 to 80 hours on duty in seven to eight consecutive days.

In addition, drivers who do not exceed a 150-air-mile radius and are not carrying hazardous materials do not have to maintain a logbook. However, drivers who are not released from duty within 14 hours must document their driving time. 

How Violations Contribute to Truck Accidents

A severely damaged car after a head-on collision with a semi-truck at a city intersection

Violations of regulations contribute to many truck accidents. For instance, a driver who did not take mandated rest breaks is more likely to have trouble staying awake when behind the wheel.

Truck drivers must meet certain qualifications. Before putting drivers out on the road, the trucking company must conduct background checks and ensure they have proper training. An inexperienced driver with inadequate training is far more likely to get into an accident than a seasoned driver familiar with the complexities of driving a big rig.

Of course, if trucking companies do not inspect and maintain their vehicles according to law, the trucks can pose a special danger on the roadways. Failed brakes, blown tires, and other preventable situations cause many truck accidents.

Gathering Evidence After a Truck Accident

A person holding up a smartphone taking a picture of damage to a grey car

After any type of motor vehicle accident, it is critical to gather evidence at the scene. However, truck accident injuries are often so devastating that the victim is unable to take photos or obtain the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses. If it is possible, try to document the scene with photos or videos and speak with eyewitnesses.

Your attorney investigates every aspect of the truck accident. Besides reviewing police and medical reports, they may subpoena the truck driver’s cell phone records to determine if they were texting or otherwise distracted when the accident occurred. Your attorney will also seek nearby surveillance video to ascertain how the crash occurred. That is one of the reasons why hiring a truck accident attorney right away is imperative.

The attorney immediately sends a spoliation letter to the trucking company and its insurer. This letter advises these entities that all evidence pertaining to the accident is preserved. Trucking companies are notorious for tampering with evidence. The spoliation letter may specify exactly what types of evidence must be preserved, including ELD data, inspection, and repair records. 

Proving Liability in Bradenton Truck Accident Cases

A file folder tab labeled "Evidence"

In truck accident cases, it is common for more than one party to hold liability. A Bradenton truck accident attorney identifies all possible defendants besides the truck driver and the trucking company. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crash, these third-party defendants may include the:

  • Manufacturer
  • Maintenance company
  • Cargo loader
  • Any other drivers involved in the accident
  • Government authority with jurisdiction over the road if physical hazards are involved

Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit in Florida

Vignette of the front of a courthouse with the inscription "United States Court House"

Because Florida is a no-fault state regarding motor vehicle accidents, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance initially covers your medical expenses. Because truck accident injuries are often horrific, most victims will prove eligible for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Under Florida law, you could sue defendants in a motor vehicle accident if the collision resulted in:

  • Significant or permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
  • Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability 
  • Death of a family member

You can also file a lawsuit if your medical expenses exceed your PIP limit. With a severe injury, exceeding the minimum $10,000 PIP is a virtual certainty.

Statute of Limitations in Florida

Close-up of an hourglass, pen, and magnifying glass on top of a legal document

In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the accident. If the accident involved any type of government vehicle, such as a municipal garbage truck or fire truck, the statute of limitations is much shorter. If a person dies as a result of a truck accident, family members have two years from the death date in which to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Because waiting too long can mean valuable evidence is lost, it is crucial to contact a Bradenton truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Importance of Expert Witnesses in a Truck Accident Lawsuit

Woman testifying on the witness stand in court

In truck accident cases, expert witnesses are critical. Their testimony in their professional capacity can explain to a judge or jury how the accident occurred and its consequences. For instance, an accident reconstruction specialist can recreate how the accident occurred using data from the truck’s electronic logs, among other technical and scientific sources.

Your attorney will also hire medical experts to testify about the physical, mental, or emotional limitations resulting from the accident, as well as your prognosis. A vocational rehabilitation expert can discuss how your injuries affect your ability to work at your current job or in any other occupation. An economic expert will testify as to the effect of the accident on your future lost income. These are just a few examples of potential expert witnesses.

Negotiating a Truck Accident Settlement

Two people shaking hands in a law office

After a catastrophic accident, you may hear from the trucking company’s insurer offering a quick settlement. While the amount may seem large, keep in mind that insurance companies offer lowball settlements in order to close a claim quickly. Insurers know how desperate victims of severe injuries may become.

What seems like an adequate amount of money will likely fall far short of your long-term needs. Never agree to a settlement before consulting a truck accident attorney. Your lawyer knows a reasonable settlement amount based on your individual circumstances.

Many victims of truck accidents will suffer long-term or lifelong disability. They may never be able to work again or cannot work in their former occupation. Many will require specialized care in a nursing home or by home health aides. Others will need items such as home modification, a handicapped-accessible vehicle, or paid assistance to handle routine chores. Your particular needs will factor into the settlement negotiations.

Truck Accident Compensation

A printed medical billing statement with a stethoscope on top of it

Compensation, or damages, in a truck accident case may include:

  • Medical expenses, current and future
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future income
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of ability to enjoy life

Kogan & DiSalvo Are Ready to Help

The attorneys at Kogan & DiSalvo in front of their office building

If you were seriously hurt in a truck accident because of another party’s negligence or a family member was killed in a fatal accident, you need the services of the experienced and compassionate personal injury attorneys at Kogan & DiSalvo. While most claims are settled, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial if the insurance company fails to agree to a reasonable settlement. Because we work on a contingency basis, you pay no fee unless you win compensation.

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