Of all possible motor vehicle accidents, truck accidents are generally the worst. When a semi-truck weighing 80,000 pounds collides with an average-sized car weighing 4,000 pounds, the results are catastrophic.
The aftermath of a truck accident can be devastating. We understand that the accident has caused you many obstacles financially, emotionally, mentally and physically. Although a lawsuit can’t erase what happened, it can provide you with the financial compensation you need to live comfortably while you focus on healing.
A compassionate St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo can help you during this difficult time. We will protect your rights while fighting for you to receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer
After the trauma of a truck accident, you will likely hear from the trucking company’s insurance company offering you a settlement. Although the amount may sound reasonable, at this stage of your recovery process you probably have no idea of how long it will take you to recuperate and whether you will suffer permanent disability.
Negotiating the best settlements
Never accept a settlement offer before consulting an attorney. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot litigate a better deal, even if it turns out the settlement amount was woefully inadequate given the extent of your injuries and subsequent disabilities.
Your lawyer negotiates with the insurance company on your behalf, which gives you a huge advantage over trying to advocate for yourself. Your attorney will know a fair settlement value for your claim based on the specific circumstances.
Understanding current laws and regulations
Dealing with a commercial truck accident injury in St. Petersburg is different than a car accident injury. When it comes to big rigs, commercial truck drivers are bound by strict state and federal regulations regarding how long drivers may stay on the road and how often they must take mandated rest breaks.
A truck accident lawyer specializes in these kinds of complicated cases. It is not something the average person should attempt on their own, especially one rehabbing from severe injury. Trucking companies will hire law firms to defend themselves. You must stay on as even of a playing field as possible.
Determining who is liable
Your truck accident lawyer will determine which parties are liable for the crash. In many truck accidents, multiple defendants are involved alongside the truck driver and the trucking company. This can also include third parties. For instance, the crash may have occurred because of defective equipment. In such situations, the manufacturer may prove liable. A repair facility may be found liable if work they did or failed to do performed incorrectly, contributing to the collision.
If the truck is leased, the lease holder may be responsible for the accident. A shipper or cargo company may not have secured the cargo correctly or caused the truck to exceed its weight limit.
If a faulty traffic signal or poor road maintenance played a role in the accident, the governmental entity charged with maintaining the road may be at fault. Of course, another motorist may have been the main culprit when it comes to the crash’s cause.
Investigating all evidence
A truck accident lawyer investigates every aspect of the case. The investigation includes collecting and reviewing evidence from the accident, such as:
- Police reports
- Medical reports
- Surveillance video
- The truck’s black box
- The truck driver’s record
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
Your attorney may hire experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists, to determine how the truck accident occurred.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in St. Petersburg
In 2022, Florida had the third-highest number of truck accident deaths, behind only Texas and California. Florida was also third behind Texas and Florida in the number of semi-truck accidents.
Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Drowsy driving
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Improperly secured or loaded cargo
- Inclement weather
- Inexperienced truck drivers
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Unsafe lane changes
Not all truck accidents result from direct collisions with a truck. If cargo is not secured properly, it can break loose, and the truck’s contents spill onto the roadway. Those items may hit other vehicles or cause accidents due to cars trying to avoid the debris and striking each other. Improper loading or weight distribution can cause a truck to jackknife or overturn, again resulting in accidents due to drivers trying to avoid the truck.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
As noted, truck accident injuries are often severe. Common truck accident injuries include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Loss of limbs
- Soft tissue damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
What Should You Do After a Semi-Truck Wreck?
Depending on the severity of your accident, you may or may not be able to take care of the following steps. If you do find yourself in a stable condition, here is what you need to do:
- Call 911 immediately and report any injuries you feel you may have sustained. Check on any passengers to make sure everyone is okay. Inform them if you need an ambulance.
- Find out the name of the trucking company and get the name and insurance information from the driver. Take a picture of their driver’s license if you can.
- Take detailed photos of the accident scene and all vehicles involved.
- If there were eyewitnesses, obtain their names and contact information. Document everything you can about the accident scene.
Because truck accidents are often serious, many truck accident victims will go to the hospital right away. Even if you find yourself in stable condition, it is critical that you go to the emergency room or an urgent care center immediately. Many injuries, even serious ones, are not apparent in the direct aftermath. The adrenaline rushing through the body after such a traumatic event can mask pain.
What NOT to do after an accident
It is also important to know what not to do after an accident. First and foremost, never admit fault.
Do not post about your accident or mention anything about the severity of your injuries. Insurance companies have employees who check your social media to find ways to deny or lessen the seriousness of your claim. Even the most innocuous posting can be twisted by insurers to make it sound as if you were not hurt that badly.
Potential Compensation in a Truck Accident Claim
Compensation, or damages, in a truck accident claim may include:
- Medical expenses, current and future
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
Even if you were partly responsible for the accident, you may still receive compensation. Florida operates under a modified comparative negligence standard, which bars claims in which the plaintiff is determined by a jury or judge to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident.
If the plaintiff is found 50 percent or less at fault, their recovery is reduced proportionally to their fault. For instance, a plaintiff found 25 percent at fault can still recover compensation, but their award will be reduced by 25 percent in proportion to their fault.
Fatal truck accidents
Unfortunately, truck accidents often prove fatal. In Florida, the personal representative of the deceased’s family may file a wrongful death lawsuit on the relatives’ behalf. Potential compensation in a wrongful death truck accident claim may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses incurred prior to death
- Loss of income
- Loss of value of services provided by the decedent
- Loss of companionship
- Mental pain and suffering
The Truck Crash Claim Process
Since Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance, you must first submit a claim to your insurer prior to filing a lawsuit. If you suffered only minor injuries, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance will cover your claim. Since medical care for truck accident injuries often exceeds PIP, you can then file a personal injury lawsuit against those liable for your injuries.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident. For a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitations is two years from the death date. It is critical to consult a St. Petersburg truck accident attorney as soon as possible, as valuable evidence may vanish should you wait too long.
While most truck accident claims are settled, we will take your case to trial if the insurance company fails to agree to a fair settlement.
How Kogan & DiSalvo Can Help
If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in a truck accident or any other type of motor vehicle accident caused by another party’s negligence, you need the services of an experienced vehicle accident attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We serve all of Pinellas County. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless you receive compensation.