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Sarasota Truck Accident Lawyer

When a tractor-trailer collides with a smaller vehicle—most other vehicles on the road—the results are usually devastating. Many passengers of the smaller vehicle do not survive the impact. Those who do survive may suffer from long-term or permanent disability.

Although we can’t reverse what happened to you, we can help you get the compensation you need to manage the financial burden the injury has placed on you and your family. A Sarasota personal injury lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo will protect your rights while holding those responsible for the truck accident liable.

Overview of Statistics Related to Truck Accidents in Sarasota

A distant shot of a red semi-truck driving over a bridge over water in Florida

A semi-truck overturns on I-75 after colliding with an SUV.  A tractor-trailer rear-ends a BMW on I-75. Another semi-truck crash on the same highway snarls traffic for hours. All of these collisions occurred within one year and are only a few of the many horrific accidents that have happened on I-75—making it one of the most dangerous highways in Sarasota. US-19 and US-41 are other local highways with a higher-than-average crash rate.  

According to the Institute for Safer Trucking, Florida ranks third in the nation for truck accident fatalities, with California ranking second and Texas coming in as the worst.

Florida is also one of the 17 states that do not require police to report underride crashes. These crashes involve pedestrians, cyclists, or smaller cars that slide beneath a tractor-trailer or other large truck. This lack of reporting results in a severe undercount of these usually fatal collisions.

Factors Contributing to Truck Accidents

A man in the cab of a semi-truck texting while driving on the highway

The most common factors contributing to truck accidents include:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Inadequate driver training
  • Poor truck maintenance
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Failure to yield

Legal Landscape for Sarasota Truck Accident Claims

Statute of Limitations

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. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the death date. However, it is critical to hire a truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident. Waiting too long can mean that crucial evidence may disappear.

Among the first things your attorney will do is send a preservation letter to the driver, trucking company, and any potentially liable entities informing them that their client is taking legal action and they must preserve any relevant evidence. Obviously, the sooner this is done, the better.

Modified Comparative Negligence

A gavel laying on top of a legal book in front of scales

Even if you were partly at fault for the accident, you may still receive compensation. Florida uses a modified comparative negligence standard. As long as the plaintiff is less than 51% at fault for the accident, they may still recover compensation, but that amount is reduced by the percentage a judge or jury finds them at fault. For instance, if it is determined that you were 20% at fault for the crash, a $100,000 award is reduced by 20% to $80,000.

Pursuing Compensation for Truck Accident Injuries

A stethoscope and calculator on top of a printed medical bill

Keep in mind that Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance and that your own insurance must pay for medical bills and lost wages until you reach your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) limit. This is true no matter who is at fault. With the types of severe injuries usually occurring in truck accidents, that PIP limit is usually reached quickly. At that point, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault parties.

Compensation, or damages, for truck accident injuries may include:

  • Medical expenses, current and future
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of the enjoyment of life

Compensation depends on various factors, especially the severity of your injuries and your prognosis. Other issues affecting compensation include your age, occupation, and overall health prior to the accident.

In rare cases, punitive damages are awarded. These damages are meant to punish the defendant because they acted in such an egregious or reckless manner.

Of course, many truck accident victims succumb to their injuries. While nothing brings a deceased loved one back, the surviving family may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the parties responsible for the loss of their family member.

Challenges in Sarasota Truck Accident Cases

An overhead photograph of numerous semi-trucks parked in a parking lot

One of the challenges in truck accident cases is that accident victims suffer severe injuries. With medical bills piling up, inability to work, and the total upheaval of life accompanying truck accidents, some victims may agree to settle with the trucking company’s insurance company for what seems like an adequate sum.

Never agree to an insurance settlement before contacting an attorney. Insurers offer injured people lowball amounts to settle a case fast. At this point, you have no idea what your long-term needs will entail. Always let your attorney negotiate with the insurance company. 

When it comes to Sarasota truck accident cases, trucking companies hold certain advantages. Trucking companies usually have a team of lawyers on their side to fight any claims by injured parties. Expect these lawyers to challenge your claim and try to delay the case for as long as they can.

Identifying Who is Liable for the Accident

Identifying who may prove liable in collisions between automobiles is usually straightforward. That is not the case with truck accidents, which may have several parties involved. Besides the driver and the trucking company, entities that may hold liability include:

  • Manufacturers, if the design or a mechanical failure caused the crash.
  • Maintenance companies if improper maintenance contributed to the accident.
  • Cargo loaders, if the cargo was not secured safely or exceeded the permitted weight limit.
  • Third-party contractors, such as shipping companies that violated weight or other regulations.
  • Other motorists involved in the accident.

The governmental authority holding jurisdiction over roadway maintenance may also hold liability if poor maintenance contributed to the accident.

Building a Strong Truck Accident Case

A woman and a truck accident lawyer with a clipboard examine a crashed truck

Building a strong truck accident case means providing strong evidence. Truck drivers and their companies must adhere to strict federal and state regulations. These regulations include:

  • how many hours a driver may work each day,
  • how much mandatory time they must take off,
  • truck maintenance,
  • the criteria for handling hazardous materials,
  • random and frequent drug tests,
  • and much more.

At one time, compliance regarding driver hours was based on written logs truckers were required to keep. While truck drivers must still keep these logs, technology now makes it far easier to ascertain whether the driver was compliant and what happened at the time of the crash. Most tractor-trailers now have electronic logging devices, computers that record not only the driver’s hours of service but also all data relating to the truck’s operation. Such data includes:

  • Miles driven
  • Vehicle motions status
  • Engine power status
  • Engine hours

This information can reveal whether the driver was sufficiently rested before getting behind the wheel, the speed at the time of impact, any sudden braking, odd driving behavior, and numerous other factors that may have played a role in the crash

At Kogan and DiSalvo, we also review medical and police reports, interview eyewitnesses, and may hire an accident reconstruction specialist to determine exactly how the crash occurred. Our attorneys are well-versed in all of the regulations any of the defendants in your case may have violated.

We can hire medical experts to testify about the nature and severity of your injuries. Economic experts can explain the financial impact of the injuries on your future. We go the distance to win your case so that you receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries.

How Kogan & DiSalvo Can Help You

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

If you were seriously injured in a truck accident or a family member was killed in a deadly accident, you need the services of an experienced Sarasota truck accident lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.

Because we work on a contingency basis, you pay no fees unless you receive compensation. While most truck accident cases are settled, if the insurance company fails to agree to a reasonable settlement, we will take your case to trial.

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