Obtained Over $1 Billion in Settlements & Trial Verdicts
Palmetto Bay may be a small village. But it is also bordered by a major highway, US-1, which means thousands of trucks and other commercial motor vehicles pass through the area on a given day. And these larger vehicles create a substantial safety risk for other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who have to share the road.
When a truck gets into an accident, it often takes down several other vehicles–and people–along the way. That is why truck crashes are often more deadly and serious than accidents involving passenger cars. And while truck accidents are less frequent than car crashes, they are still far more common than you may realize. According to the most recent published figures from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), there were 7,903 crashes involving commercial motor vehicles in Miami-Dade County during 2021. This includes a wide range of trucks and other transport vehicles, such as buses. And in those accidents, there were 27 deaths and 1,089 reported injuries.
If you have been injured by a commercial truck such as an 18-wheeler, you will likely face an extensive period of medical treatment and recovery. Your own insurance policy is unlikely to cover the full measure of your damages. This is where an experienced Palmetto Bay truck accident lawyer can help. At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, we fight for accident victims who have been harmed through the negligent actions of truck drivers, trucking companies, and other entities who are responsible for the safe operation of these vehicles on our streets.
What Are Some Common Factors in Palmetto Bay, Florida, Truck Accidents?
Commercial trucks have a single purpose–to transport goods and materials. Indeed, the entire South Florida economy relies on trucks to function. And in turn, these trucks rely on well-trained and alert drivers to stay on the road. Yet the prevalence of truck accidents in and around Palmetto Bay suggest that not every driver is up to that standard.
Truck accidents can occur for a number of reasons. Many of them are rooted in negligence, i.e., the failure to exercise basic care in operating an 80,000-pound commercial truck. Here are a few of the more common examples of how negligence can lead to a serious truck accident:
- The truck driver was distracted. Every driver knows they need to keep their eyes on the road at all times. This goes double for truck drivers. When operating a large commercial vehicle on public roads, a truck driver needs to remain constantly vigilant. Yet like all drivers, truckers are susceptible to distractions. Whether it is eating, looking at their phone, or even changing a radio station, even three or four seconds of distraction can lead to a catastrophic accident.
- The truck driver was tired. Federal law regulates how long an interstate commercial truck driver can stay on the road when transporting cargo. Basically, a trucker can drive up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Drivers must also take at least a 30-minute break after being on the road for at least 8 cumulative hours. Many truck accidents are the result of drivers ignoring these limits and continuing to stay on the road when they are simply too tired to remain alert and focused.
- The truck driver was speeding. Getting a speeding ticket is not uncommon for any driver. But speeding is especially dangerous when you are talking about a commercial truck. Remember, a tractor-trailer needs a lot more distance to stop than your typical passenger car. So when a trucker exceeds the posted speed limit, they are significantly reducing the amount of time they have to avoid a collision when there is a sudden change in road conditions.
- The truck was not properly maintained. Commercial trucks are large, complex vehicles with a lot of moving parts. These parts need to be regularly inspected and replaced by the truck’s owner. Improper maintenance can lead to the failure of a critical system when the truck is on the highway. In some cases, the manufacturer of a defective part can also be held responsible for an accident.
- The truck was not properly loaded. Loading cargo into a commercial truck is not the same as throwing a few things in the back seat of your car. There are specific regulations that must be followed when loading and securing a truck’s cargo. Ignoring these rules can shift the truck’s center of gravity when in transit, leading to the driver losing control. Or the cargo itself may escape the vehicle and create a substantial hazard for other drivers on the road.
What Are Some Common Injuries in Palmetto Bay, Florida, Truck Accidents?
Whether you are directly impacted by a truck or your vehicle sustains a secondary impact–say from another vehicle hit by the truck–you are at-risk for serious injury or even death in any truck accident. Some of the more common injuries we have seen with our clients in Palmetto Bay, Florida, include:
- Whiplash. One of the most common truck accident injuries is whiplash, which is when your head snaps forward as the rest of your body remains in place. Whiplash is a serious injury that can produce a number of chronic symptoms, such as neck and back pain, dizziness, and blurred vision.
- Spinal cord damage. Any injury to your spinal cord must be taken seriously. Spinal cord damage can lead to partial or total paralysis. In some cases the paralysis may be temporary, but oftentimes it leads to permanent impairment of a person’s mobility.
- Traumatic brain injuries. A concussion or traumatic brain injury can lead to an immediate loss of consciousness in some cases. But more often, the symptoms present themselves slowly over the days and weeks following an accident. This is one reason why you should always seek emergency medical treatment following a truck accident.
- Burn injuries. Commercial trucks carry a lot of fuel. They may also contain hazardous cargo. Either of these can lead to a massive fire following a truck accident, which means everyone in the vicinity is at risk of sustaining serious burn injuries.
- Damaged limbs. Broken bones are a fairly common injury in any motor vehicle crash. Unfortunately, a limb may become so severely damaged or crushed in a truck accident that amputation is required.
How Can I Seek Compensation Following a Palmetto Bay, Florida, Truck Accident?
If you purchase auto insurance in Florida, you probably know that you are required to carry at least $10,000 in “Personal Injury Protection” (PIP) coverage. This provides certain no-fault benefits in the event of an auto accident. But the reality is that injuries arising from a truck accident are often far more serious and catastrophic than what PIP coverage is meant to address. It is therefore possible in many cases to step outside of the no-fault system and seek compensation directly from a negligent truck driver, trucking company, or other third party whose negligence contributed to your accident.
Compensation in truck accident cases take the form of monetary damages, which can be broken down into three categories:
- Economic damages. This covers your out-of-pocket financial losses, notably your medical bills and lost income. Florida’s no-fault benefits are generally limited to the first $10,000 of economic damages you sustain. But in a personal injury lawsuit, you can demand the negligent parties pay the full amount of your losses.
- Non-economic damages. This covers intangible losses arising from an accident, such as your pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. You can only recover non-economic damages through a personal injury claim. Florida’s PIP coverage does not provide any compensation for these losses.
- Punitive damages. When a truck accident is the result of intentional misconduct or gross negligence–as opposed to ordinary negligence–the victims can seek punitive damages as a means of punishing the wrongdoer. Florida law limits punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory (economic plus non-economic) damages awarded or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Why Do You Need a Palmetto Bay Truck Accident Lawyer?
Many truck accident victims are reluctant to engage an attorney. Sometimes they fear they do not have the money to hire a lawyer. In other cases they may assume their own insurance will cover all of their losses, or that the trucking company will offer a fair settlement. Sadly, these assumptions often leave the accident victims in worse shape than if they had simply taken the time to speak with a lawyer.
The reality is that sorting out legal and financial responsibility for a truck accident is complicated. There are often a number of individuals, business entities, and insurance companies involved. And everyone is looking out for themselves as opposed to the victims.
If you want someone who will be on your side, you need to work with a qualified Palmetto Bay truck accident lawyer. The team at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, is here to help. Call us today at 305-371-2692 to schedule a free initial consultation. We work on a contingency basis, which means we will never charge you any upfront fees or costs.