Fort Walton Beach Truck Accident Lawyer
If you are hurt in an accident involving an 18-wheeler in Fort Walton Beach, the personal injury attorneys of The Bruner Law Firm are here to help. Truck accidents can have a devastating impact on your life, and our team is committed to getting you the compensation you need to rebuild and move on. Every year there are a reported 400,000 accidents involving 18-wheelers, resulting in 150,000 injuries and 5,000 deaths. The accident could cost you valuable time from work, could result in lasting pain or disability, and could damage or destroy the vehicle you depend on. When this happens, you need an experienced legal team on your side to help make sure that this financial strain does not negatively impact your life and the lives of your loved ones.
An experienced Fort Walton Beach truck accident attorney with The Bruner Law Firm may be able to help you file a lawsuit against the responsible party and collect damages to offset the costs associated with recovery. Call (850) 243-2222 to speak with an attorney today.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Because of their size and weight, truck accident injuries can be extremely serious for the driver and passengers of the other vehicle. The victims may require extensive medical care and lengthy rehabilitation. Unless you have knowledge and experience with personal injury law and the legal system, dealing with insurance companies or the trucking company’s legal team can be an incredibly frustrating process.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will handle every step of your case so you can focus on rehabilitation and your overall health. They will give you the best possible chance of recovering the maximum amount in damages to cover every expense related to your accident and subsequent injuries. At The Bruner Law Firm, we have decades of experience handling personal injury cases, like truck accidents, and have won millions for our clients. With us on your side, you will be able to focus on your recovery while we win you the maximum possible payout.
Why Choose The Bruner Law Firm for My Truck Accident?
Since 1992, The Bruner Law Firm has been helping people just like you get compensation for their truck accident injuries and get on with their lives. We understand the ins and outs of personal injury law in Florida, and with over 25 years of personal injury experience, we can put that expertise to work for you and your family.
We are a family-run law firm, and we treat our clients like family. We believe the best way to achieve favorable results for our clients is to listen to their needs and let them know they’re not alone in dealing with the consequences of a truck accident.
And lastly, because we get results. We’ve helped thousands of clients obtain millions of dollars in compensation for their truck accident injuries, and we’re ready to help you and your family do the same.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can happen for a wide variety of reasons, and determining liability in these cases can be difficult. At The Bruner Law Firm, we are prepared to represent you in cases relating to:
- Intoxicated Driving: Alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs can delay a driver’s responses and reflexes and heavily impair judgment. Impaired drivers cause many crashes every year, injuring or killing other people on the road.
- Mechanical Defects and Malfunctions: Mechanical defects and malfunctions can occur due to improper maintenance, manufacturer faults, or other causes. Brake malfunctions, insufficient underride protections, tire defects, and trailer malfunctions can all cause the vehicle to malfunction and lead to devastating crashes.
- Employer Negligence / Liability: In truck accident cases, the employer is often found to be the at-fault party. An employer is considered negligent if they fail to properly train a driver, fail to inspect a vehicle, or hire an inadequate employee. Employers are also considered negligent if they violate Hours of Service regulations and allow their employees to drive more than the number of legally permitted hours. An attorney can help you investigate whether employer negligence played a role in your truck accident.
- Truck Driver Error / Negligence: Many truck accident cases involve driver errors, such as speeding. Some of the most common driver errors include failing to use turn signals, driving aggressively, loading improperly, and driving in adverse conditions. A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that over 85 percent of truck accidents are caused by drivers, rather than vehicle malfunctions, weather, or road conditions.
- No-Zone Accidents: No-zones are the areas around a truck where the driver cannot see other vehicles in their mirrors. If a driver fails to check these blind spots, he or she may change lanes directly into another vehicle. Directly behind the truck, in front of the truck, behind the driver’s door, and behind the passenger’s door are all considered no-zones. Although drivers are trained to check blind spots, they can still forget this important safety measure and cause an accident.
Trucking accidents can be devastating for anyone involved. Due to the sheer size of typical 18-wheelers, when they are involved in a crash, injuries can be life-altering or even fatal. The wrongful death of a loved one as a result of any of the above situations deserves to be investigated and the responsible party must be held accountable for its negligent actions.
Possible Injuries in a Truck Accident
An accident involving a truck has the potential to cause more serious injuries than an accident with passenger vehicles because of the size and weight of a truck. Stopping or slowing a vehicle that weighs in excess of 80,000 pounds is not easy or simple, and very often, serious injuries can result from a collision involving a big rig.
Some possible injuries from a truck accident can include the following:
- Head and Neck Injuries: Injuries like whiplash and concussions are common in vehicular accidents. Whiplash occurs when an impact forces a severe jerking motion of the head, such as in a rear-end collision, and concussions occur with an impact or violent shaking of the head, such as in reaction to an airbag deploying.
- Broken Bones: Truck accidents can cause broken ribs, arms, legs, or skull fractures. Some of these broken bones take time to heal and may not heal correctly, which can leave a lasting disability.
- Lacerations: Cuts from broken glass or sharp metal are common in a truck accident. Some large lacerations require surgery to correct and can leave lasting scars.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): TBIs can result after a severe impact to the head in a truck accident. Concussions and cerebral hematoma are examples of TBIs.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: A severe enough impact can damage the spinal cord, often resulting in loss of feeling in limbs or even paralysis.
- Organ Damage: Severe impacts to the torso can cause internal bleeding and damage organs like the lungs, liver, spleen, or kidneys.
- Burns: The force of impact with a truck can cause fuel tanks to rupture and fuel to ignite, and accident victims may get burned. Some burns cannot heal on their own and require surgery to correct.
Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident in Florida?
Liability in a truck accident can be more difficult to determine than in an accident involving two passenger cars. This is due to the way the trucking industry works and the insurance requirements for truck drivers and trucking companies.
- Truck driver: The driver of the truck is responsible for operating the vehicle correctly and safely. If the cause of the accident is negligent behavior of the driver, such as driving while under the influence or not performing the necessary safety checks on their vehicle, they will likely be at fault for the accident, to some degree, and the trucking company’s insurance policy may be on the hook for damages.
- Trucking Company: A trucking company, or carrier, may also bear some liability. For example, if it’s discovered during the accident investigation that the carrier was demanding that their driver spend more hours on the road than is legal, they would be partially at fault in an accident.
- Cargo loaders: If someone other than the truck driver loaded the cargo, they may also be partially responsible for the accident in some cases. If the freight the truck is carrying was not loaded or secured correctly and this leads to an accident, the loading company may be held responsible.
- Vendors: If a trucking company relies on a certain company or individual for maintenance on their vehicles and during the accident investigation it’s discovered that a crucial part of that maintenance wasn’t performed correctly and caused an accident, they could be held liable for injuries or damage.
- Manufacturer: It’s also possible for the manufacturer of the truck or certain parts on the truck to be held liable for an accident if it’s found that the parts failed catastrophically or were improperly installed at the time of manufacture and led to an accident. A good example would be brakes. Say a truck manufacturer doesn’t install a high-pressure brake line correctly at the factory, and that line fails at a crucial moment, causing an accident and serious injury. The manufacturer would assume liability.
- Highway Maintenance Contractors: Maintenance of highways, roadways, and signage is often handed off to a contractor. If an accident investigation reveals that one of these contractors didn’t properly maintain a road or add signage to indicate a work zone and caused a truck accident, this contractor could be assigned some liability for the accident.
Damages Available After a Truck Accident
A personal injury claim for your accident is not like a criminal case. Personal injury lawyers do not try to prove criminality. They attempt to get you compensation for losses you suffered due to another party’s negligence in the form of compensatory damages or a settlement.
“Damages” can refer to any number of possible losses you experience after a debilitating truck accident, both monetary and otherwise. Compensation may be available for your losses, some of which may include:
- Medical bills. These can include hospital stays, emergency transport, medication, rehabilitation, or surgical costs.
- Lost wages. If you’re injured in a truck accident and unable to work, you may have difficulty making ends meet. You could get compensation for your time off work for medical appointments or for the time it takes to heal. If you are unable to return to the same job, or if you are unable to work at all as a result of the accident, you could obtain compensation for lost future earnings, as well.
- Lost opportunity. Suffering a debilitating injury due to a truck accident will often put future plans on hold, like plans to travel or start a business. Some compensation may be available for missing out on these activities.
- Property Damage. If a truck accident destroys your vehicle or any personal items inside it, the cost of replacing or repairing these items can be included in the calculation of the value of your claim.
- Pain and Suffering. This category is meant to cover losses that are impossible to quantify. Being in a truck accident can be an emotionally devastating experience for everyone involved, and dealing with the trauma can take a toll on both the victim and their family. Compensation for pain and suffering is meant to help alleviate some of this strain.
- Wrongful Death. Truck accidents sometimes end in the worst possible way: with the death of a loved one. Though no amount of money can change the outcome, monetary compensation for a claim of wrongful death is meant to relieve the financial and emotional strain suffered by a family of an accident victim.
For truck accident cases where there is blatant negligence or disregard for the safety of others, you may also be able to claim punitive damages.
Punitive damages are different from compensatory damages. They are not meant to repay any losses or suffered as a result of a truck accident. They are specifically designed to punish the responsible party and deter them from acting negligently in the future.
Punitive damages require a different standard proof than negligence. Your attorney must prove that the at-fault party in your case acted with conscious disregard for the safety of others and with intentional misconduct, meaning they were aware their actions would negatively affect the safety of others.
Truck Accident Statistics
The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration compiles a report each year containing statistics of crashes involving trucks and buses. Here are some interesting statistics from 2018, the most recent year for which there is complete data:
- The number of large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes has increased 48% since 2009, and the number of crashes with injuries increased 62% from 2009 to 2015.
- There were 13.5 fatal crashes per million people in the country that involved large trucks, up 27% from 2010.
- Of the 499,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks, 1% were fatal, and 21% had injuries that required treatment.
- Rural highways and interstate highways are the most dangerous locations for truck crashes. Of the total fatal crashes reported that year, 57% were on rural highways, and 26% were on interstate highways.
- At least one large truck was involved in 30% of fatal work zone crashes and 10% of crashes resulting in injuries.
- 62% of fatal truck crashes in 2018 involved at least two vehicles. Single-vehicle crashes, including crashes that involved pedestrians or cyclists, accounted for 21%.
- 90% of crashes involving a large truck had only one fatality. In 82% of those crashes, the fatality was not an occupant of the truck.
Contact a Fort Walton Beach Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love was hurt or killed in a truck accident, you might be eligible to seek compensation from the responsible party. At The Bruner Law Firm, we make it our mission to win cases just like yours. To consult with an experienced attorney at The Bruner Law Firm, call our Fort Walton Beach office at (850) 243-2222 today.