Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Attorney

Truck accidents are all too common in and around Fort Lauderdale. While sharing busy roadways—such as interstate highways I-75, I-95, and I-595—with truckers, collisions involving semis and other heavy trucks are inevitable. And given these vehicles’ sheer size, mass, and momentum, most accidents involving trucks result in severe, life-changing injuries and extensive property damage. Thankfully, Florida state law gives you the right to claim monetary compensation for damages sustained in a truck accident.

However, claiming compensation for a truck accident is often a lengthy and complicated process involving several parties. But an experienced Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer will guide you through the complex legal maze to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys has a reputation for fighting for truck accident victims against negligent truck drivers, predatory insurers, and reluctant trucking companies. Our job is to build a winning case and bargain for the highest possible compensation on your behalf.

Thousands of Truck Accidents in Florida Every Year

As truck accident attorneys in Fort Lauderdale, we are well aware that the “Sunshine State” is a popular trucking destination; thousands of semis and other heavy trucks ply Florida roads daily. According to FCC-INC.com, Florida is home to about 77,500 truckers, making it the fourth US state with the most truck drivers.

Why is Florida so attractive to trucks? Well, for one, Florida is a major shipping hub. With 14 primary deep-water ports, Florida is one of the largest shipping hubs on the East Coast. Secondly, Florida is the third most populated state in the US, with over 22.6 million residents. Sustaining such a huge population requires trucks to haul goods around the clock. Thirdly, Florida does a lot of trade with the neighboring states of Georgia, Alabama, and beyond.

The experienced Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyers at our law firm know that these accidents are not uncommon on Florida roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2021 traffic safety report, 366 heavy trucks were involved in fatal road crashes in Florida. A similar report published by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) shows the levels of injuries sustained in truck accidents as follows:

  • Fatal: 30
  • Incapacitating: 148
  • Non-incapacitating: 560
  • Possible injuries: 1,176
  • No Injuries: 36,622

Why Are Truck Accident Claims in Fort Lauderdale More Complicated Than Other Claims?

The process of claiming compensation after a truck accident can get complicated fast, especially if the claimant has not partnered with a Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney. Many claimants in truck accident cases actually get frustrated along the way and wind up settling for much less than what they’re owed or walking away with nothing.

Here are the three main reasons why truck accident personal injury claims are so complicated:

Truck Accidents Often Result in Severe Damage

A fully-loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds (40 tons)—20 times heavier than the average passenger car. Even for a truck traveling at fairly low speeds, all that weight carries immense momentum.

Also, trucks are much tougher compared to other road vehicles. Most trucks have heavy-duty body panels, chassis, and frames built from thick steel or aluminum. On the other hand, passenger vehicles typically have shells made of comparatively fragile composites.

With their immense mass and sturdy build, heavy trucks are more like battering rams on wheels. They pack a heavy punch during collisions with other vehicles or road users. Many traffic crashes involving heavy trucks are utterly devastating in terms of severity of injuries and extent of property damage.

For this reason, most personal injury claims for truck accidents have lots of cost/damage considerations. And the more the claims, the more the paperwork, and the longer the case drags out. As you can imagine, the defendant (insurer, driver, or trucking company) will want to fight you and your Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer on every claim to ensure they only pay the lowest compensation possible.

Trucks are Categorized as Commercial Vehicles

Florida Statute 320.01(26) defines a “commercial vehicle” as “any vehicle which is not owned or operated by a governmental entity, which uses special fuel or motor fuel on the public highways, and which has a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more, or has three or more axles regardless of weight, or is used in combination when the weight of such combination exceeds 26,001 pounds gross vehicle weight.”

This definition is more than just a distinction between commercial and noncommercial vehicles. It also means that commercial vehicles, including trucks, are registered and insured differently than other types of vehicles.

Additionally, commercial vehicle regulations fall under unique state laws. For instance, truck drivers must meet specific requirements to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Other laws and industrial standards may also apply, depending on the truck’s route, layout, and cargo.

All this adds to the complexity of personal injury claims involving truck crashes.

There are Several Entities Involved

A truck accident personal injury case may involve several parties in the claim process. Depending on the nature of your case and the at-fault party, you may claim compensation against the truck driver, the trucking company, the truck company’s insurer, the person or company whose goods were being transported at the time of the accident, or the truck’s manufacturer. And in most cases, you’ll be dealing with more than one party regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

Most commercial truckers work for limited liability trucking companies that are cleverly structured to protect themselves and their drivers from personal injury liabilities. Also, the insurers covering these companies have strict policies surrounding “fault” and “liability.” Since nobody wants to own up or pay up, the ball gets tossed around all the different parties using obscure bureaucracies. Unfortunately, none of this makes the case any easier for the plaintiff or their Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney, mainly because negotiating with or suing each party requires a unique strategy.

The stakes are usually pretty high in commercial truck accident cases, which is why the defendant(s) fights so aggressively against personal injury claims in Fort Lauderdale. As a claimant or plaintiff in a truck accident lawsuit, you need an equally aggressive claim to stand any chance of compensation. And that’s where an experienced truck accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale comes in. At Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys, we pull out all the stops to ensure our clients get triumphant legal representation against otherwise stubborn defendants.

Factors Contributing to Trucking Accidents in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Truck accidents are all too common on today’s highways. They are one of the leading causes of highway accidents. Many factors can contribute to a truck accident, but some of the most common include:

Whether it’s something as simple as a flat tire or something more serious like engine trouble, any problem with the truck can be dangerous. With so many potential causes of truck accidents, drivers must be aware of the dangers and take precautions to avoid them.

The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation takes a heavy toll on mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Even if you don’t feel sleepy, lacking enough sleep may impair your concentration, judgment, and physical performance. You may also exhibit irrational or aggressive behavior. As truck accident lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, we have seen how this is what happens to truck drivers who work long hours without enough rest or sleep.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) latest data, 13% of all truck accidents are associated with driver fatigue. And as it turns out, sleep deprivation is a major contributor to driver fatigue and burnout. 

How Does Drowsiness Affect Truck Drivers?

Drinking and driving do not mix—that’s pretty much common sense. But did you know that driving while sleep deprived is similar to driving while intoxicated? The CDC reckons that staying awake for 17 hours is similar to having a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of 0.05%, while staying up for 24 hours straight is like having a BAC of 0.10%. For reference, the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers in Florida is 0.08.

In a nutshell, driving while drowsy has the same effect as driving while under the influence. A sleep-deprived driver is slow to react and less aware of their surroundings, not to mention their compromised emotional state. In the worst-case scenarios, drowsy and fatigued drivers doze off and lose control of their rigs, causing devastating road accidents.

Why There Are Drowsy Truck Drivers on the Road in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The FMCSA restricts the number of hours a trucker can drive in one shift. A trucker may drive up to 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off duty. They may also not drive more than 70 hours over seven consecutive days without taking at least 34 hours off duty.

However, some drivers dismiss these rules due to pressure from work or the employer. Others are all too eager to rack up as many hours or miles as possible to get a bigger paycheck at the end of the day. Sometimes, the driver just doesn’t realize how much they need to rest or sleep and drives on, oblivious to the peril they pose on the road.

Establishing Fault in a Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Case

Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that the truck’s auto insurance policy should cover all the damages regardless of who’s fault caused the accident. However, you or your Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney can file a claim if the insurance policy isn’t enough to cover all your injuries or damages. A personal injury case is filed against the at-fault party. In other words, you must prove that the accident occurred due to someone else’s fault (negligence), resulting in injuries/damages that caused you monetary or non-monetary losses.

Proving fault is where truck accident cases get really challenging. Several independent players are involved in the trucking business, and any one of them could be held responsible for an accident.

Let’s look at the potentially liable parties in a truck accident:

The Truck Driver

Most road crashes result from driver error, and truck accidents are no different. Not to bash on truckers, but the driver is evidently the weakest link in any vehicle. Based on NHTSA’s findings, of all the truckers involved in fatal crashes in 2021, 21.3% had previously recorded crashes, 0.9 had previous DWI convictions, 18.8% had at least one prior speeding conviction, and 7.3% had previously had their license revoked or suspended.

A truck driver can be found responsible for a truck accident in many different ways. Here are some of the common driver errors that can lead to an injury-causing crash in Broward County:

  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving for extended periods without taking well-deserved breaks or naps
  • Distracted driving, for example, talking or texting on the phone, fiddling with the stereo, or snacking while driving
  • Over-speeding and tailgating
  • Carelessly switching lanes or overtaking
  • Ignoring traffic rules, directions, or signs
  • Disregarding mandated caution when transporting special goods such as hazardous cargo and wide loads

The Trucking Company

The trucking company the driver works for or that owns the truck could be liable for a truck accident. However, tying the trucking company to a crash can be difficult. And since the driver and the company are usually tightly intertwined, it can be hard to tell who was responsible for what.

All in all, the trucking company can at least share some of the blame in the following situations:

  • The company/employer pressured the driver to work overtime and skip breaks
  • The company hired an underqualified or unlicensed driver
  • The company violated FMCSA safety regulations
  • The company failed to keep the truck in good working condition

The Truck’s Manufacturer

Unexpected and unavoidable vehicle malfunctions cause some truck accidents. For instance, failed brakes, wonky steering, defective couplings, and tire blowouts are common culprits of truck accidents. And in some cases, such malfunctions stem from defective trucks or spare parts, meaning the manufacturer can be solely or partly to blame for the accident.

Keep in mind that suing a truck or spare parts manufacturer for personal injury can easily escalate into a mass tort or class action lawsuit. Chances are, the manufacturer sold more than one defective truck or auto component.

The Cargo’s Owner

The person or company whose cargo was being transported during the accident could be responsible for the crash. That might seem farfetched, but if you or your Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer can prove that the cargo’s owner played a role in the accident, it will definitely hold up in court. Maybe they ignored some safety precautions, gave the wrong routing or cargo handling instructions, or cut some corners to save money on hauling fees.

Other Third-Parties

Other potentially liable entities may include:

  • The negligent individuals or company tasked with maintaining, servicing, and repairing the truck
  • The crew that loaded the truck with a poorly balanced or unsecured cargo
  • The truck inspector for failing to notice imminent malfunctions
  • The government authorities that failed to maintain the road or direct traffic properly

The Injured Party

The injured party (claimant or plaintiff in a personal injury case) could be partly liable for the accident. As ironic as it sounds, “victims” in personal injury cases can share the blame for their injuries.

Florida recently switched to the modified comparative fault laws. As of March 24, 2023, a plaintiff in a personal injury case can only recover damages if they are less than 50% to blame for the accident. Also, the compensation will be awarded depending on the plaintiff’s share of the fault. For instance, if the court determines you were 20% responsible for a truck accident, you may only claim 80% of the available compensation.

As a plaintiff, you could be held partly responsible for a truck crash in many different ways. It could be that you ignored traffic rules, refused to yield to the truck, or were intoxicated at the time of the accident. Under the newly modified comparative negligence law, the trick to winning such a case is proving that your fault was considerably less than the defendant’s fault.

In any case, proving fault requires gathering irrefutable evidence and building a solid case that works in your favor. Again, a truck accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale can help you argue your way out of blame and bring the liable parties to justice.

How A Fort Lauderdale Truck Accident Attorney Can Help

Truck accidents can be complex and often involve multiple parties. That is why it is imperative to hire an experienced legal representative to help you navigate the case. In order to secure just compensation after an accident, you need a law firm who can efficiently and effectively pursue your claim without letting mistakes jeopardize your legal rights.

Our Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyers can help investigate the accident and determine who may be liable. In addition, we can help with 18 wheeler accidents in Fort Lauderdale and negotiate with insurance companies, and recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Remember, we work on a contingency basis, so if we don’t recover, you owe us nothing.

The bottom line is you need a trusted and experienced truck accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale who can win in a court case or reach a settlement you are happy with.

Experienced Attorneys Helping Victims Recover Top Compensation

While many attorneys who represent victims of truck accidents try to negotiate a settlement with the parties at fault, our firm’s primary objective is to maximize our clients’ financial recovery.

Therefore, we are prepared to go to court if necessary to secure the compensation your due following the truck accident. After a truck accident, we will not hesitate to take your case to court to secure the funds necessary to cover the following expenses:

  • Money spent on healthcare
  • Pain
  • Depression and other forms of mental suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Potential income loss

Your power to seek compensation can be constrained by insurance plans and the financial means of the liable party. However, the insurance limits for commercial vehicles are substantially higher, and the trucking firms may have more money available. We can assist you in pursuing a settlement that will compensate you in full for all your damages, past and future, and the costs of defending yourself.

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale, FL, is a vibrant coastal city located on Florida’s southeast coastal strip. Incorporated in 1911, Fort Lauderdale has grown into one of the largest cities in the state. It covers 36.3 square miles and is home to over 183,000 people, making it the largest of Broward County’s 31 municipalities.

Fort Lauderdale is famously hailed as the “Venice of America,” a fitting title for a coastal city crisscrossed with over 165 miles of scenic inland waterways. The municipality acknowledges and owns this humble brag by putting it on the official city seal.

In addition to the dense network of sailable waterways, Fort Lauderdale is connected to neighboring cities and states by long ribbons of smooth tarmac. Most notable are the interstates I-75, I-95, and I-595 and highways U.S.1, US 27, and US 441. These busy roadways are where you’ll find those huge semi-trucks hauling heavy cargo within and outside Fort Lauderdale.

Sticking to our topic of truck accidents and personal injuries, Fort Lauderdale has several healthcare facilities offering a wide range of treatments, including physical and wellness therapies. If you’re ever in need of medical attention while in Fort Lauderdale, consider Broward Health Imperial Point for high-quality personalized care, Santiso Physical Therapy for the best physical therapy and rehabilitation services in town, or Procare Rehab and Wellness Physical Therapy for all your occupational therapy needs.

And if you need to repair your vehicle after an unfortunate accident, you can trust Wales Garage to put it back on the road good as new.

Call Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys Today

As soon as you or a loved one are in an accident with a large commercial vehicle, it is critical to your case for financial compensation and recovery that you contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer. To schedule an appointment with Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys, please fill out our contact form or call us at 954-712-8877 to arrange for your free, no obligation consultation.

In addition to Fort Lauderdale, our attorneys also serve Hialeah, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, North Lauderdale, Lauderdale Lakes, Wilton Manors, Lazy Lake, and more.