Truck Accident Lawyer
Tampa is a central hub in Florida for semi-truck traffic. They may be driving down Interstate 275 to make deliveries throughout the rest of the state, or they might be making stops throughout the city to deliver goods to local businesses. No matter where you see a truck or where it’s heading, one thing is for sure: Semi-trucks are dangerous.
If you are involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, the results will most likely be devastating. After all, semi-trucks weigh up to 18 tons; the average sedan, on the other hand, weighs around a ton and a half. It’s simple physics that when a vehicle that large hits a car that small, it will cause serious injuries, property damage, and more.
If you are injured in this type of accident, you have legal rights. At Darrigo & Diaz, our Tampa truck accident lawyers have decades of combined experience fighting against trucking companies and their insurance companies to get you the compensation you deserve. Give us a call at (813) 774-3341 or contact us online today for a free, no-obligation consultation over the phone or in-person at our office.
When you work with Darrigo & Diaz, you can benefit from:
- A Board Certified Civil Trial Law Specialist who is also a member of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America. Less than 5% of Florida lawyers are Board Certified.
- A team of trial lawyers, investigators, and support staff that’s used over 75 years of combined experience to recover millions of dollars for injured victims and their families.
- 24/7 availability, personalized attention, and compassionate service.
No fees unless we win and FREE and confidential case evaluations.
Common Terms Related to Truck Accidents
After an accident, you may hear different terms to describe the different types of trucks, trailers, or drivers. Here we will discuss some of the most common terms and what they mean. Many additional terms refer to the same type of truck. Sometimes, the terms used are different depending on the kind of trailer the truck is towing. Common terms you may hear to describe large trucks are:
- Big Rig
- Cargo Truck
- Fuel Truck
- Tanker Truck
- Tractor Truck
- Cattle Hauler or Cattle Truck
- Chicken Hauler
- Car Hauler
- Lumber Truck
- Reefer Truck
Other terms you may hear that describe the mechanical features of the truck or trailer include:
- Jake Brake — A special type of braking system that reduces the wear on wheel brakes by slowing down the engine.
- Cab — This is the area of the truck where the driver sits. For drivers who drive long distances (long-haulers), the cab may also have a sleeper cabin behind the cab’s front area. For drivers who only run short-distances, they will not have a sleeper cabin, and the cab is often referred to as a “day cab.”
- Bobtailing — This term is about a tractor truck that is not hauling a trailer.
- Dead-Head — This is the term truckers use to describe an empty trailer.
- Wiggle Wagon — A tractor that is pulling more than one trailer.
- Skateboard — A flatbed trailer.
- Alligator — Refers to the tread on the tires. An “alligator in the road” means the tread has come off a tire and is on the road. You may have even seen shredded tire treads along the highway.
What are the Most Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents?
About a third of all truck accidents are caused by driver error. Some of the most common causes of collisions include:
- Drowsy driving
- Intoxicated/drunk driving, including the use of prescription or over-the-counter medicines
- Distracted driving, including phone use
- Illegal driving maneuvers
- Unbalanced loads
- Being unfamiliar with the truck
- Reckless or negligent drivers
What are the Most Common Types of Truck Accidents?
While truck accidents can be similar to many other types of car accidents, they can also pose new risks to smaller vehicles due to the size of semi-trucks. Their heavy weight makes it difficult for them to slow down and react quickly to hazards on the road. Some of the most common types of truck accidents are explained below. To explore these situations more in-depth, click on the “read more” for more vital information.
Intersection Semi-Truck Accident
Being involved in an intersection accident with a semi-truck can cause severe injuries regardless of the impact’s direction. While a smaller car broadsiding a tractor or trailer may not be as dangerous as the truck broadsiding a small car, both can have severe consequences for passengers in the small car.
Carriage Underride Accident with an 18-Wheeler Truck
A carriage underride truck accident is often the most deadly type of tractor-trailer accident with a smaller vehicle. The height of a big rig’s trailer is almost precisely the same as the torso and head region of the driver of a smaller vehicle. If a car rear-ends the trailer, it could end up shearing off the smaller vehicle’s top and lead to decapitation.
Big Rig Hit and Run Accident
It is typical for hit and run big rig accidents happen as a result of the truck not seeing a car in the truck’s blind spots and backing up into the vehicle, turning right when a car is too close to it, or clipping a vehicle with the backend of the trailer as the truck driver switches lanes.
Jack-Knifed Trailer Accident
A jackknifed trailer describes when the driver of a semi-truck loses control, and the trailer ends up at a 90-degree angle to the truck. It gets the name from a jackknife, a type of knife where the blade folds into the handle. A jackknifed trailer can pose severe hazards to other drivers on the road if they cannot stop in time to prevent a collision with a jackknifed trailer.
Rear-End Collision with a Semi-Truck
The driver of a semi-truck sits up much higher in the cab and sometimes may not see a small car in front of them. If they release their foot off the brake, the truck may roll into the vehicle, causing a rear-end accident. Other times, a truck driver is simply driving while distracted and slams into a car that changes lanes in traffic. Even a low-speed rear-end collision with a semi-truck can lead to severe injuries such as whiplash because of the truck’s weight and the force behind it.
T-Bone Accident with an 18-Wheeler Truck
A T-bone accident truck accident is when the front end of one vehicle hits another vehicle’s side, resembling the shape of a “T.” A T-bone accident with an 18-wheeler can result in significant damages and injuries to the driver of the smaller vehicle.
What Special Laws and Regulations are Truckers Required to Follow?
Drivers with a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) are required to abide by the laws and regulations set forth by states and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Truck drivers use logbooks (either automated digital or paper) to track their hours and mileage during the hours they drive. By federal law, big rig drivers can only drive a specific number of hours before they must shut down their truck and rest. However, Florida has lowered the number of legal driving hours in an effort to decrease big rig accidents in the state.
However, drivers still using paper logbooks will often fraudulently alter details to allow them to drive longer hours without being caught by law enforcement officials who monitor logbooks during stops at weigh stations or traffic stops. Recently, there has been a significant push by the government to mandate digital logging of the driver’s hours which are nearly impossible to be forged. By mandating immutable travel records, the government hopes to better enforce the law while also keeping other drivers safe from drowsy truck drivers.
Who Can Be Held Accountable for a Semi-Truck Accident?
When you work with a truck accident attorney in Tampa, they will evaluate your case and figure out who is responsible for your injuries. Most often, it’s the truck driver who is to blame. They may not be driving at proper speeds, could be distracted, or, in too many cases, they are driving drowsy. However, because of tight deadlines, they may ignore these regulations to get paid.
In some instances, another party may be responsible for your injuries. For example, if the trucker is driving a truck owned or leased by a trucking company, that company may be responsible for regular maintenance. If they don’t conduct routine maintenance, which causes an accident, the company may be held accountable. The company may also be held responsible if they hire a driver who isn’t qualified or if they don’t provide proper training to drivers.
Multiple parties may be held accountable for a truck accident in some cases. Your Tampa truck accident lawyer will consider all the available options to increase your chances of getting the full compensation you deserve.
How Much Money Can I Get From a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
While it’s not possible for us to say precisely how much your case is worth without evaluating your situation first, we can describe the different types of compensation or damages we may seek on your behalf. The most common and straightforward type are economic damages.
Economic damages are intended to compensate you for the real money you lost because of the wreck, such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more. Generally, you can prove these damages with receipts, invoices, and other evidence.
Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are vaguer. They deal with the losses you suffered that have nothing to do with money. These damages may include pain and suffering, physical disfigurement, mental anguish, and more. Because you can’t merely produce receipts and other evidence to prove noneconomic damages, your Tampa truck accident injury attorney will work with medical professionals, psychologists, and other professionals to build a case on your behalf.
In rare instances, Florida law also allows for punitive damages. These damages are intended to punish the defendant. They are only assessed when the high standards of gross negligence or intentional misconduct are met. If punitive damages are assessed, they are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000 (whichever is greater).
Can I Get Compensation If I’m at Fault for a Truck Accident?
Like most states, Florida follows a comparative negligence statute. This means you can still recover compensation if you were partially at fault for the accident. However, the amount of compensation you receive will be reduced by the percentage you are at fault. Let’s look at an example:
You’re driving down I-4 at night in bumper-to-bumper traffic. One of your tail lights isn’t working correctly. You stop because of traffic, but the semi-truck behind you doesn’t and therefore rear-ends you. You end up with spinal cord injuries and a totaled car.
Eventually, the court hands down a decision that you are owed $100,000 for your injuries. However, the court also decides you are 30% at fault for the wreck because of your malfunctioning tail light. As such, you are only granted $70,000 in compensation.
The amount you are at fault can be challenging to determine. That’s why you should work with a truck accident attorney in Tampa to figure out all of your legal options, including whether you can feasibly file a personal injury lawsuit.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer in Tampa Can Help You
When you work with the attorneys at Darrigo & Diaz, you work with a team of trial lawyers, investigators, and support staff who have over 75 years of combined experience fighting against trucking and insurance companies to secure their clients’ compensation.
You will also get to work with a Board Certified Civil Trial Law Specialist who is also a member of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America. Less than 5% of Florida lawyers are Board Certified. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Give us a call at (813) 774-3341 or contact us online.