Pinecrest Truck Accident Lawyer
Serving Palmetto Bay Residents
We Offer Zealous, Client-Focused Representation to Truck Accident Victims Throughout Miami-Dade
If you live in Pinecrest, you know that hundreds of commercial trucks pass through the village every day via U.S. Route 1. The trucks carry all types of cargo that are crucial to South Florida’s economy. But they also carry potential risks to public safety if they are not properly maintained or operated. If this happens, it can cause a major automobile accident.
Commercial truck accidents are a serious matter. According to [official statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 322 fatal car accident crashes involving large vehicles in Florida during 2020, the last year for which complete figures are available. This is part of an upward trend in such crashes, which had a 10-year low of 197 in 2015 and have steadily increased in the years since. These figures also show that Florida is the third-deadliest state for commercial truck accidents after California and Texas.
Even in non-fatal cases, truck accidents often cause serious and catastrophic injuries to the injury victims. The reason for this is simple. Your average passenger car offers little protection against a fully loaded 80,000-pound tractor trailer. If you are one of those injured victims–or have lost a family member–you are understandably angry and demand justice. We can help. At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, we are a team of experienced Pinecrest truck accident lawyers who can deal with negligent trucking companies and their insurers on your behalf. We can help to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your physical injuries and other losses.
How Can Negligence Lead to a Truck Accident in Pinecrest, Florida?
When we talk about “truck accidents,” we generally mean 18-wheel commercial vehicles. These are also referred to as semi-trucks or big rigs. Essentially, it is a cab attached to a large trailer that is primarily used to transport cargo. Other kinds of commercial trucks include specialized vehicles such as dump trucks, cement trucks, garbage trucks, and even tow trucks.
While you only need a driver’s license from the state of Florida to operate a passenger vehicle, anyone who wishes to operate a commercial truck needs a special Commercial Driver’s License. Truck drivers who transport goods or people across state lines–which is to say, most truck drivers–also must abide by safety regulations made by the FMCSA.
Indeed, many truck accidents are the result of truckers ignoring or attempting to circumvent these safety regulations, as well as simply disregarding the rules of the road applicable to all drivers. Some of the more common examples of this include:
- Driver Fatigue. Truck drivers work long hours under immense pressure to keep their delivery schedules. The FMCSA has strict “hours of service” regulations in place that limit the amount of time a truck driver can spend behind the wheel without stopping to take a break or rest. But far too often, drivers ignore these rules, which leads to fatigue and ultimately a serious accident.
- Alcohol or Drug Use. Drunk driving is dangerous no matter what type of vehicle you drive. But when a truck driver gets behind the wheel of a big rig while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, they are effectively operating a loaded missile pointed at everyone else on the road.
- Reckless Driving. Reckless truckers in a hurry can easily create a massive pileup on the highway. That is why truck drivers need to be especially vigilant when it comes to obeying basic traffic laws. This includes obeying stop signals, not speeding to pass other vehicles, and maintaining a safe stopping distance to avoid collisions.
- Distracted Driving. Truckers often turn to some form of distraction while on long hauls, such as listening to the radio or looking at their phones. But as we all know, any form of distracted driving is dangerous driving.
Another important consideration when determining liability for a truck accident is the role played by the companies responsible for maintaining and loading the vehicles. Even the safest, most responsible truck driver can get into an accident if they are set up to fail. Here are just a couple of examples:
- Improper Maintenance. Commercial trucks need to be regularly inspected, repaired, and maintained to ensure peak operating condition. Even something as simple as failing to replace a worn tire can lead to a disastrous accident if there is a blowout on the road. Both the truck driver and the trucking company need to ensure that the vehicle is in proper working order at all times.
- Improper Loading. Commercial trucks are designed to haul cargo. But you cannot simply throw a bunch of palettes into a trailer and call it a day. There are rules governing how cargo needs to be loaded and secured. In some cases, the trucking company handles this process. Other times, it is up to a third party, such as the company that owns or sells the cargo. If cargo is improperly loaded, it can shift during transit and imbalance the truck–or worse, fall off or out of the truck and create a hazard for other motorists.
- Negligent Hiring and Training. Some drivers should never have been entrusted with a commercial truck in the first place. If trucking companies fail to perform proper screenings for new hires–including conducting background checks–they can be held liable if a dangerously unqualified driver causes an accident.
- Bad Road Conditions. Local governments may be held legally responsible for truck accidents if poor road maintenance was a factor.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident in Pinecrest, Florida?
Commercial truck accidents are rarely simple “fender benders.” It is more common that the truck itself will be crashed or overturned on a highway blocking traffic in that direction. And if you are in a vehicle impacted by the truck, there is a significant chance you have sustained some sort of physical injury.
Even if you are able to get up and walk around the accident scene, you should still seek emergency medical attention. Many truck accident injuries are not immediately obvious. For example, if you struck your head against the dashboard of your car, you may have sustained a traumatic brain injury.
If you are awake and alert at the scene, you should also make sure to contact the Florida Highway Patrol or the local police department in Pinecrest. Law enforcement can take charge of the accident scene and conduct an official investigation into what happened. If you are physically and mentally able to do so, you can also gather your own preliminary evidence at the scene, such as taking photos of your vehicle with your smartphone or obtaining contact information from any witnesses.
You also need to report the accident as soon as possible to your own insurance company. Remember, Florida has a no-fault auto insurance system. So you have to turn to your own insurer first for medical coverage and other benefits following an accident. That said, if you sustained serious, life-threatening, or catastrophic injuries, you can step outside of your insurer and pursue a personal injury claim directly against the negligent truck driver or other parties involved.
How Do I Prove Negligence Following a Truck Accident in Pinecrest, Florida?
Winning a personal injury lawsuit in Florida means proving that one or more defendants were negligent. Negligence means you do not have to prove that the truck driver or another defendant tried to cause an accident. You only need to show that the defendant failed to exercise due care. For instance, if a truck driver or trucking company failed to follow a FMCA regulation and that led to the accident, that is a clear-cut case for negligence.
Once you prove negligence, however, the defendant can be held liable for any damages that sustained as a result of the accident. Damages are expressed in terms of monetary compensation owed to you. Among the damages you can seek following a truck accident:
- Economic Damages. Many injuries can be reduced to simple dollar amounts. This includes your medical bills, lost income due to time missed from work, and even the costs of your rehabilitation. Compensation for such losses are known as economic damages.
- Non-Economic Damages. Some injuries cannot be accurately measured in dollars yet are still quite real. For this reason, the law entitles accident victims to seek compensation for these “non-economic” damages, which are often characterized by terms like pain and suffering or mental anguish.
- Punitive Damages. While most truck accidents are the result of simple negligence, if there is proof that a driver or trucking company acted in an especially egregious or unethical manner, the victims can seek punitive damages as a means of punishing such wrongdoing. (Florida law caps punitive damages to the greater of three times the amount of economic and non-economic damages or $500,000.)
Pinecrest Truck Accident FAQ’s:
Who Is Liable for a Commercial Trucking Accident in Florida?
Unlike privately owned passenger cars, a commercial truck is often not owned by its driver. This can make pursuing a personal injury claim following a truck accident more complex. Depending on the specific facts of a case, there may be multiple parties that a truck accident victim can sue, including the truck’s driver, the company that owns the truck, the companies responsible for manufacturing the truck and its parts, and even the company that was responsible for loading the truck’s cargo.
What Makes Semi Truck Accident Claims Different from Other Types of Motor Vehicle Crashes?
Semi-truck accidents are often extremely complex legal cases. Indeed, these types of crashes can be more challenging to navigate than other types of motor vehicle collisions. Here are some of the most notable reasons why commercial trucking accident claims in Pinecrest, FL are different:
- Severity of Injuries: Semi-truck accidents often result in more severe injuries due to the vehicle’s size and weight. The more serious the injury, the more that is at stake in a personal injury claim.
- Multiple Parties Involved: Claims may involve multiple parties including the truck driver, trucking company, and insurance providers. All commercial truck accidents in Pinecrest should be thoroughly investigated by an experienced attorney.
- Regulatory Compliance: The trucking industry is subject to additional federal and state regulations, and violation of these rules can play a role in accident claims.
- Evidence Gathering: A wide range of unique evidence can be a factor in commercial truck accident claims. It may be necessary to collect evidence from the truck’s black box, driver’s logs, or truck maintenance records. Your attorney can help you seek this information.
- Complex Insurance Policies: Insurance policies for semi-trucks can be more complicated. In some cases, there are multiple overlapping insurance policies that may come into play.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Semi-Truck Accident in Florida?
Florida had a four year statute of limitations for truck accident injury claims prior to 2023. That is no longer the case. There was a reform bill passed in the spring of 2023 that reduced that state’s statute of limitations for negligence claims to two years. Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 95.11), the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after a semi-truck accident in Florida is two years from the date of the accident. It is imperative that injured victims act promptly after a serious truck accident. What happens if you miss the deadline? You may lose your right to file a lawsuit and recover compensation for your damages. Be proactive. Speak to a Pinecrest, FL truck accident attorney as soon as possible after a serious collision.
How Do I Know if I am Being Offered a Fair Settlement for My Truck Accident?
Most truck accident injury claims are settled outside of litigation. If you are considering settling your claim, it is imperative that you understand the proper value of your case. Determining whether you are being offered a fair settlement for a truck accident in Pinecrest, Florida involves consideration of various factors including the extent of your injuries, damage to property, medical expenses, lost wages, and future rehabilitation or medical costs.
Unfortunately, the big commercial insurance companies fight hard to resolve claims for as little as possible. Your truck accident claim in South Florida should always be handled by an experienced attorney. A lawyer can investigate your crash, document your damages, and negotiate on your behalf. The big trucking companies and their commercial insurance companies must be held accountable.
Is a Truck Driver Negligent If They Stay on the Road Too Long?
Yes. In fact, many truck accidents in Pinecrest and Miami-Dade County are the result of interstate commercial truck drivers ignoring the “hours of service” regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These regulations limit how much time a driver can spend behind the wheel without stopping to rest or take a 30-minute driving break.
Can I Be Held Partly Responsible for a Truck Accident?
Florida follows a “modified comparative fault” rule in all personal injury claims, including lawsuits arising from car or truck accidents. Under a comparative fault scheme, a court must determine the relative liability of all parties involved in an accident, including the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit. Any damages must then be reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s comparative fault. Historically, Florida had a “pure” comparative fault rule, which meant a plaintiff could still recover some compensation even if they were 99 percent at-fault. But in 2023, the Florida legislature adopted a “modified” comparative fault standard, which requires a plaintiff to be 50 percent or less at fault to recover any damages.
Who Pays When Someone Is Killed in a Car or Truck Accident in Florida?
Florida’s Personal Injury Protection coverage provides a $5,000 death benefit in the event someone dies from their accident-related injuries. But the personal representative of the victim’s estate can also pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver or other parties responsible for the fatal accident. Under Florida law, a wrongful death claim can recover damages on behalf of the estate and the victim’s surviving family members. This includes compensation for the victim’s final medical, funeral, and burial expenses, as well as the ongoing pain and suffering of the survivors due to the loss of their loved one.
Do You Need to Speak with a Pinecrest Truck Accident Attorney?
Pursuing compensation following a truck accident is often a far more complex undertaking than victims initially realize. That is why it is essential to contact an experienced Pinecrest truck accident lawyer as soon as possible following a crash. If you need to speak with someone right away, call Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, today at 305-371-2692 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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