The law firm of Kogan & DiSalvo understands that dealing with truck wreck cases is very different from the traditional auto accident. Large trucks (ranging from multi-passenger vehicles to commercial motor vehicles and tractor-trailers) are susceptible to different types of crashes under varying circumstances than the regular automobile.
For example, due to a higher center of gravity, large trucks have greater risk of flipping; the hitches create the opportunity to jackknife; tire blow-outs create a potentially deadly environment for other drivers; the loads are often hazardous materials, and most importantly, the sheer size, weight and momentum of these large trucks greatly diminishes the driver’s ability to react and respond quickly.
These factors coupled with a moment of distraction or careless and negligent driving cause devastating and sometimes fatal truck wrecks on Florida roadways every single day. If you have been injured or suffered the loss of a loved one because of a serious truck accident, you need a trusted legal advocate to protect your rights.
Tractor trailer and 18-wheeler accident cases are inherently complex to litigate. Given the incapacitating injuries that typically result, these claims are best navigated by a skilled Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo. Members of the prestigious Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, our legal team knows how to maximize your legal recovery. We are proud to provide dedicated personal injury representation to truck accident victims throughout Ft. Lauderdale and all of Broward County.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
The drivers of large Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) are required by law to earn and maintain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). There are rules regulating the maximum number of hours a driver can operate a CMV before mandatory rest periods. “Hours of service” are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help ensure that truck drivers remain alert, yet these rules are often ignored to meet demanding and unrealistic deadlines. Excessive fatigue is responsible for thousands of preventable truck accidents every year.
Besides drowsy driving, the following are the common causes of truck accidents in Fort Lauderdale:
- Distracted driving (texting, talking on the phone)
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Excess speed
- Improper braking
- Wrong lane changes
- Failure to yield
- Violating traffic laws
- Improper or negligent maintenance
- Brake failure
- Overloaded cargo
- Tire blowouts
- Defective vehicle parts
- Driver inexperience
Additionally, commercial trucks have significant blind spots — known as “No Zones” — that passenger automobiles do not have. These blind spots can prove incredibly dangerous during lane changes, turns, or merges on busy freeways. While motorists should avoid lingering in these No Zones, there are incidents where truck drivers may be at fault for blind spot collisions.
The sooner you hire a Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer, the faster we can begin investigating the cause of the collision to determine responsible parties.
Hours of Service Rules for Commercial Truck Drivers
HOS regulations apply to drivers who operate any type of commercial motor vehicle in the United States, which is defined as:
- Gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds OR
- Weighs, including fully loaded cargo, at least 10,001 pounds OR
- Transports dangerous materials in quantities requiring signage
- Manufactured to transport 16 or more passengers without compensation
- Manufactured to transport 9 or more passengers for compensation
Many of today’s newer trucks are equipped with electronic logging devices (ELDs) that can track a driver’s hours of service, which are stipulated by the FMSCA:
- Drivers may not exceed 11 hours of active driving within a 24-hour period. Each 11-hour shift must be preceded with a 10-hour rest period.
- Drivers who are hauling cargo are not allowed to be on duty for more than 14 hours in a day. This time frame includes rest periods, traffic delays, and other breaks.
- Drivers cannot exceed 60 hours of active drive time in 7 days, or 70 hours in eight days. They can only drive again after taking a 34-hour break.
- A mandatory 30-minute break is required during every 8-hour period.
In accidents where the trucker has violated Hours of Service rules, they – along with their employer and other potential defendants – may be on the hook for any personal injuries and property damage. Electronic logging devices have made it more difficult to evade Hours of Service regulations without detection and legal consequences.
Florida & Broward County Truck Accident Statistics
Large commercial trucks were involved in more than 27,000 traffic accidents in the Sunshine State in 2020, according to the Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). These crashes resulted in nearly 1,300 injuries and 29 fatalities. Data compiled by the Florida Department of Transportation indicates that serious accidents involving tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks are on the rise. The shortage of qualified drivers coupled with supply chain issues is one of the biggest reasons for this surge.
Data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shows that Broward County had 34,050 motor vehicle accidents last year, resulting in 268 fatalities. More than 18,000 of these crashes produced serious injuries, and a significant number involved medium to heavy trucks, including semis and 18-wheelers.
The “Large Truck Crash for Freight Mobility and Safety Enhancement in Florida” study was performed to glean a better understanding of the contributing factors and patterns of truck accidents in Florida. Published in 2019, the statewide crash report analyzed data from 2007 to 2016, and came away with these salient points:
- Driver error was responsible for 92 percent of all truck accidents during the study period
- Careless or aggressive maneuver was the dominant driving error for accidents with both vehicles and fixed objects
- Both internal and external distraction were a major factor in crashes with moving vehicles, fixed objects, and stationary automobiles
- Vehicle defects, particularly those related to suspension, wheels, tires, brakes, and power train were identified in 2.9 percent of all truck-vehicle accidents
- Vision obstruction was another contributing variable for truck accidents with pedestrians and bicycles
- Road defects and inclement weather – especially fog and glare – were factors in a small percentage of accidents involving large trucks
- Areas with the highest truck accident density included: the intersection of W Broward Blvd and I-95, W Sunrise and I-95, and W Copans Road – W Atlantic Blvd and I-95.
Inexperienced and overworked truck drivers aren’t always equipped to safely operate their vehicles, which can weigh more than 40 tons fully loaded. If you or a loved one were injured in accident with a commercial truck, it’s imperative to seek qualified legal representation.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
When an 80,000-pound semi collides with a 3,500-pound passenger vehicle, the injuries are often catastrophic. Unsurprisingly, it is the drivers and occupants of smaller automobiles that suffer the worst.
Fort Lauderdale truck accident victims can sustain debilitating harm that requires lengthy hospital stays, surgery, and rehabilitation. In some cases, victims are unable to return to their employment because of permanent disability.
The following includes some of the more prevalent truck accident injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries – a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be mild (such as a concussion) or severe, and are difficult to diagnose even with CT scans and MRIs. Lesions to the brain can cause a host of problems, impairing memory, concentration, and mood. More severe TBIs can result in permanent cognitive dysfunction.
- Spinal injury – an injury to the spinal cord may result in temporary or permanent paralysis at and below the level of trauma that disrupts communication between the brain and certain parts of the body. A spinal cord injury can paralyze from the waist down, or result in quadriplegia, where sensation and motor coordination is lost in all four limbs.
- Deep lacerations – Shards of metal, shattered glass, and other debris can cause deep lacerations, puncture wounds, and damage to internal organs. Some victims are left with disfiguring scars all over their bodies.
- Broken bones – Both simple and compound fractures are not unusual after an accident with an 18-wheeler. Fractures to arms, hips, skulls, femurs, and pelvic bones can be excruciating, requiring surgery as well as rods and pins to help fuse the bones together.
- Burn injuries – If gas tanks are punctured, or hazardous chemicals leak, explosions and fast-spreading fires can occur in these accidents. Second and third-degree burns that char deep tissues, nerves, and muscle are not uncommon. Depending on the severity, burn injuries may require skin grafting and reconstructive surgery.
- Loss of limb – the blunt force trauma of truck accidents can cause catastrophic injury to an extremity resulting in an instantaneous separation of the limb, or traumatic amputation. Emergency surgical intervention is necessary to halt hemorrhaging and re-vascularize the amputated site.
- Organ damage – Abdominal and thorax injuries are another life-threatening concern. Livers, kidneys, spleens, and lungs can be crushed or punctured during a truck crash.
Steps to Take After a Florida Truck Accident
Your actions after a truck wreck in Fort Lauderdale can have a significant impact on later insurance claims or litigation. Protect your rights by following these steps after a collision with a large truck:
- Call 911 immediately
- Assess yourself and passengers for serious harm – first responders will tend to emergencies
- Document the accident scene. Take photos of damage to vehicles and the license plate of the truck and all involved parties
- Exchange information with all parties involved
- Get the contact information of any witnesses
- Do not apologize or admit fault
- Get medical attention and follow treatment protocols
- Consult with an experienced truck accident attorney
- Do not sign insurance documents or make official statements
- Stay off social media until the claim resolves
Who is Liable for a Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident?
One major difference between truck accident cases and traditional auto accident claims is that with truck accidents, there may be multiple liable parties.
Potential defendants in 18-wheeler accident claims may include:
- Trucking company
- Truck driver
- Owner of a commercial truck
- Truck manufacturer
- Shipping and cargo companies
- Third-party maintenance personnel /mechanics
- Manufacturer of defective auto parts
- Negligent drivers or other third parties
To identify at-fault parties and all defendants in your claim, you should consult with a personal injury attorney in Fort Lauderdale who is well-versed in winning 18-wheeler and commercial vehicle accident lawsuits. Our truck accident lawyers can level the playing field, and fight insurance companies that try to dispute liability or minimize settlement payouts.
Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Claim
When you retain an attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo, we start immediate investigations to build an effective claim for compensation. Our legal team and support staff work tirelessly to collect compelling evidence that supports your allegations and proves the defendant’s negligence. We are able to pinpoint at-fault parties and establish liability through the following:
- Visiting the scene of the collision
- Reviewing the police accident report
- Interviewing and getting statements from eyewitnesses
- Reviewing the truck driver’s record and accident history
- Obtaining available surveillance footage
- Analyzing the onboard electronic logging device for HOS violations
- Reviewing the trucking company’s safety records for state and federal infractions
- Evaluating the trucking company’s training and hiring practices
- Studying truck maintenance records
- Enlisting accident reconstructionists and other expert opinion
In the wake of a crash with a big rig, do not make any statements or sign documents without first consulting a truck accident lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo.
Types of Truck Wreck Claims We Handle
Heavy commercial trucks account for more than 13 percent of all deadly accidents on U.S. roadways. There are many types of truck accident claims we litigate in Broward County, but these are some of the most common:
- Jackknife accidents – sudden or improper braking can cause trailers to skid out from the truck’s cab at a 90-degree angle, striking everything in its path
- Truck rollovers – overloaded cargo, improper loading, and excessive speed for road and weather conditions are the top causes of truck rollovers
- Underride accidents – these collisions are often fatal and happen when passenger cars or motorcycles slide under the truck. A lack of underride guards or faulty brake lights may contribute to these deadly accidents.
- Wide turn accidents – 18-wheelers must swing out to maneuver their vehicles when making right and left hand turns. If executed incorrectly or without turn signals, this can result in a serious accident
- T-bone accidents – most often occur at intersections when fatigued, distracted, or intoxicated drivers blow through red lights or fail to follow traffic signs
- Tire blowout crashes – these devastating accidents are often attributed to worn tires, underinflated tires, or defective tires
- Rear-end collisions – stopping distances for trucks are nearly twice as long as passenger cars. Rear-end accidents can happen when truckers follow too closely, are speeding, or distracted
- Sideswipe accidents – these collisions are often caused by drivers who fail to check the truck’s blind spots before merging into traffic
- Falling cargo crashes – the law requires that all truck cargo is secured with stanchions, straps, supports, and other equipment. Falling cargo is a massive hazard for other road users. Improperly secured or loaded freight can fall directly on cars and cause multi-vehicle pileups.
Whether your vehicle was struck on the I-595, or you were caught in a wide turn accident, the law provides recourse for victims of negligence. Our truck accident attorneys are focused on helping Fort Lauderdale residents whose lives have been undermined by catastrophic injuries.
Types of Damages Available in Truck Accident Cases
In Florida, claimants can seek both economic and non-economic damages in a truck accident claim. Economic damages are measurable losses that are easily calculated, such as:
- Lost income or wages
- Medical and hospital expenses, including ambulance service, medications, surgery, diagnostic tests, rehabilitation, assistive devices, and physical therapy
- Costs for transportation to and from doctor’s appointments
- Property damage
- Loss of future income
- Diminished earning capacity
Non-economic damages are more subjective in nature and therefore difficult to quantify. Our attorneys work with industry experts to put an accurate dollar figure on these less tangible losses that have just as much impact on a victim’s future quality of life.
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
The value of non-economic damages will take into account the type and severity of the victim’s injuries, the impact on their day-to-day life and ability to partake in routine activities, their recovery timeline, and if they suffered permanent disabilities.
When a truck accident causes loss of life, the family can file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for funeral and burial costs, loss of financial support, and the suffering that stems from losing a close relative or loved one.
Statute of Limitations for Taking Legal Action
Florida Statute § 95.11(3) gives personal injury victims two years to file a lawsuit after a motor vehicle accident. Because of this statute of limitations, it’s important to seek qualified legal counsel as soon as possible after a truck accident, so that investigations can be initiated and vital evidence preserved. Any legal actions brought after the statute has expired will be dismissed by the courts, barring you from seeking any type of financial recovery. The statute is subject to reduction in certain circumstances.
Consult with a Trusted Truck Accident Lawyer in Broward County
If you were involved in a truck accident anywhere in Broward County or Southeast Florida, call the personal injury law firm of Kogan & DiSalvo for a free consultation. We can determine if your case has merit, determine liable parties, and pursue maximum monetary damages for your losses. Since we handle these claims on a contingency-fee basis, our attorneys only get paid if compensation is procured. Reach out today for a no-risk, complimentary case evaluation.