Every year, nearly 500,000 large vehicle (known as tractor-trailers or "semis") are involved in trucking accidents in the United States. Approximately 5,000 of these truck collisions result in fatalities, and more than 100,000 result in serious personal injury. In fact, one out of every eight traffic fatalities is caused by an accident involving a large truck.
Not surprisingly, most of the deaths and personal injuries involve the passengers of the autos struck by tractor-trailers. Truck drivers typically escape unscathed. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of the people who die in trucking accidents are the people in the small passenger cars.
What Causes Most Trucking Accidents
Many technical factors can cause a truck accident, and it is for this reason that these specific lawsuits require personal injury lawyers who have a lot of experience in tractor-trailer collisions.
The following are some of the more common causes for a trucking accident:
- Driver fatigue
- Improper driver training and experience
- Use of drugs and alcohol by the truck driver
- Unsafe equipment
- Improper maintenance
- Incorrect size, weight and loading
- Lack of following the federal trucking laws and regulations
- Road and environmental conditions
- Speed and improperly adjusted brakes
- Cell phone usage and texting
- Improper reactions to a situation
What are the Federal Laws That Govern Truck Drivers
A truck driver (officially known as a commercial motor carrier) is an individual who drives a vehicle across state lines when the vehicle: (1) weighs 10,001 pounds or more; (2) has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more; (3) is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation; (4) is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or (5) is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards.
Hours of Operation -- Truck drivers are permitted to drive up to 11-hour a day with a 14-hour work day limit. Their maximum average work week is 70 hours; however, truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week can resume driving if they rest for 34 consecutive hours. Truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
Drug Testing – Truck drivers are tested for the following drugs & pre-employment and after most trucking accidents that involve bodily injury or death: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, methamphetamines, and phencyclidine.
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Trucking Accident Lawsuit
There is not an easy answer to this question because it depends on several factors. For example, if the truck accident occurred in Pensacola, Florida, you would have a four-year limitation period to file a lawsuit if the accident resulted in physical injuries, but a two-year limitation period for truck accidents resulting in death. If the accident was caused by a governmental entity, there are claims procedures that must be filed six months before a lawsuit is filed, and also there is a maximum limitation period of three years.
There are numerous factors that determine how short of a period you have to file a lawsuit arising out of a trucking accident, such as: (1) where the injury or death occurred; (2) the type of injury sustained; (3) whether the opposing side is an individual, company or governmental entity; (4) when you became aware, or should have become aware, of the injury; and many other factors.
The most important thing is that you immediately seek legal advice when you become aware of a potential injury after a trucking accident, even if you decide not to hire a lawyer. We will provide you a confidential and free consult, even if you decide not to hire us. This way you at least can determine your rights, and how long you have to pursue those rights.
What Will I have to Prove to Succeed in My Trucking Accident Lawsuit
In order to succeed in your truck accident lawsuit (whether in Pensacola or nationwide), you generally will have to prove three elements: (1) the opposing side performed a negligent, reckless or intentional act; (2) the act was a legal cause of the injury sustained or death; and (3) the extent of the damages caused.
In regard to the first element, negligence is the failure of a person to use reasonable care, which is the care that a reasonably careful person would use under the same circumstances. The second element, legal cause (also known as proximate cause), occurs when the negligent act produces or contributes substantially to producing the injury or death.
The third element is damages. You will need to prove the extent of the harm suffered by the negligence. In a personal injury situation, the damages include physical pain and suffering; mental pain and suffering; medical expenses; and wage loss. In a wrongful death claim, it includes medical and funeral expenses; mental pain and suffering; loss of support; and loss of future estate.
How Do I Choose a Truck Accident Lawyer
First, determine whether the attorneys you are considering focus their practice on handling truck accident cases, and whether they have a record of successfully litigating these type cases. Many attorneys claim to have this expertise, but simply try to settle cases quickly and do not desire to go to trial. Insurance companies generally know who these attorneys are and will try to offer less than a fair settlement value.
Our firm is always prepared and willing to go to trial if the case cannot settle for a proper amount under the law. We do it multiple times every year (whether in Pensacola, Florida or nationwide) and have been for 60 years. In fact, we have won more than 100 jury verdicts for more than $1 million each, totaling more than $2 billion. We have been named "One of America's Most Winning Law Firms" by the National Law Journal, and are listed in Best Lawyers in America; Super Lawyers, and Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame.
What Does It Cost to Hire a Trucking Accident Lawyer
Our truck accident lawyers provide an absolutely free confidential consultation, and if we are fortunate enough for you to hire us, we never will charge you any fees or costs unless you first recover. This type of fee is known as a contingency fee.
The fee we charge ranges from 20% to 40% depending upon the amount we recover for you. This is true in Pensacola, as well as every other state in the country. This fee should be virtually identical to what other Florida lawyers are charging, as the amount is controlled by The Florida Bar. This is true whether your lawyer has never handled a trucking accident case or whether it has been the focus of their practice for more than 50 years, as with our law firm. For a detailed discussion on fees and costs, click Fees & Costs.
When hiring a law firm to handle your trucking accident case, it's important to take your time and research them. Study their web sites for credentials, expertise, commitment, resources, success rate and fees. Meet with several firms. Ask a lot of questions, and determine who you feel most comfortable trusting.
Will Levin Papantonio Accept My Truck Accident Claim
Our lawyers have been handling trucking accident case since 1955. We successfully handle these cases all over the country. We accept truck accident cases of all size injury (large and small).
Whether we will accept your specific case depends on the individual circumstances of each case. We guarantee you that we will take your call, provide you an absolutely free consult, discuss the facts of your case, and honestly and straightforward tell you whether we can help you. If not, we will try to get you to someone who can. We also will tell you exactly what will be involved in pursuing your case, how long it will take to resolve, and the likely amount you will receive.
How Long Will it Take to Resolve My Truck Accident Claim
Trucking accident cases can vary in length from a few weeks to years before they are settled or get paid as a result of a jury trial. Each situation is different. We will need to review the facts of your individual case, and then begin investigation of all the circumstances before we can provide you a good estimate. Generally, however, you need to be prepared for the process to take one year in simple cases to 3-4 years in complex cases. Wrongful death cases generally take longer than personal injuries cases. A good estimate is 2 - 5 years depending upon the complexity.
To contact us for a free confidential consult, you can call us at (850) 435-7000 (Pensacola) or (800) 277-1193 (toll free). You also can request a free private and confidential evaluation by clicking Free & Confidential Consult, and your inquiry will be immediately reviewed by one of our attorneys who handles your specific type case.