You may find it very difficult to move on from a tractor-trailer accident if you are hurt in one. In order to assist you with your recovery and protect your interests moving forward, you should hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. Specifically speaking, this should be an attorney who has experience working with the victims of tractor-trailer accidents in Florida. They could be an invaluable asset and guide who can help you to rebuild your life.
If this has happened to you and your family, you cannot afford to waste time without getting legal assistance from an attorney. Moreover, you may have no other way to pay your medical bills than through a lawsuit, so be sure to assemble any evidence you have before you meet with a tractor-trailer accident lawyer. If you’ve recently been involved in a tractor-trailer accident in Pinellas, contact Herman & Wells to get a free evaluation on your case.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been in a Tractor Trailer Accident in Pinellas?
If you are able to do so safely, assess your own condition, that of your passengers, and that of those in other cars that were involved in the crash. In spite of the fact that each of the following steps could have a big impact on your personal injury case, you should never jeopardize your own safety (or anyone else’s) unnecessarily. If you have been seriously injured, don’t try to move before the ambulance/proper authorities arrive to help.
1) Call the Police
911 should be called in most situations. You will be routed to the local police or emergency responders if you’re on a highway. If multiple cars are involved in the accident, inform the dispatcher so that it can send as many ambulances as necessary. Get a police report, even if the accident seems minor. Documenting the accident with a police report is the most effective way to preserve evidence, and the police will maintain accurate records of all the vehicles involved.
2) Seek Medical Attention
Make sure you and your passengers receive medical attention, even if you don’t believe you have been injured. You may have sustained injuries that don’t show symptoms immediately. You might have a hard time proving that an injury, later on, was caused by the accident if you require medical treatment. A doctor can also diagnose injuries like internal bleeding, which can be difficult for you to determine. Request a full medical evaluation at a hospital or your doctor’s office even if you’ve already been examined by an emergency medical technician on the scene.
3) Document the Evidence at the Scene
As always, this should only be done if you are safe and uninjured and if you are able to step out of your vehicle safely. It’s not a good idea to wander around a busy highway without the assistance of the police. Photographs, contact information for witnesses and anyone involved in the accident, and notes about road conditions and weather might be included in the documentation.
4) Get Contact Information from Any Witnesses
Any person who saw or observed the crash qualifies as a “witness.” Witnesses can include people in either the involved vehicle or a nearby vehicle that wasn’t involved. Witness statements are not required. Police officers will handle that. It’s important to keep in mind that if there is a lot of damage and injuries, the police may be faced with many emergency situations before they can interview witnesses. Once the emergency response team takes control, well-meaning bystanders who stopped to help will likely leave. It’ll be hard to locate them again once they leave the scene, and they might have important information to share. If possible, approach a witness and ask them for their contact information. You’ll only need a name, a phone number, or an email address. If the police are conducting an accident investigation, you can either provide that information to your lawyer or to the police.
5) Get Your Vehicle Appraised
You might think your car has only minor damage, but sometimes the damage is internal and not visible to the untrained eye, just as with the human body. The only thing you should not do, however, is rush to your local body shop for a quick repair. Why? The repair estimate must be included in your insurance claim. In order for your insurance company to pay for your damages, they have different requirements. There are some apps that require you to photograph each external side of the car, while others require that you take the car to a body shop that’s on an approved list. You can have your vehicle transported to a local body shop if roadside assistance is included with your insurance or you belong to a travel association that offers towing. Just make sure that the body shop knows not to perform any repairs until your insurance company has approved them. Take your car to an auto mechanic or body shop for an evaluation even if you are sure it is safe to drive.
6) Watch What You Say After a Tractor-Trailer Accident
In a stressful situation like an accident, it may feel good to be nice and put everyone at ease as much as possible. Do not admit fault or make light of the accident. On the other hand, you may feel angry that the truck driver caused the accident, being rude to the other drivers won’t serve the situation either. As a result, most of us say things we regret once we get agitated or that we don’t mean. Keep as neutral as possible after an accident in order to avoid saying anything that could hurt your case down the road.
7. Don’t Share Details About the Accident on Social Media
An accident involving a tractor-trailer in Pinellas is generally more serious than one involving a passenger car, and if it involves a big cleanup, road closures, or a death, it could be newsworthy. You may be shown photos or articles by local news stations, but don’t comment. Social media should not be used to discuss your physical or emotional condition or the way in which you believe the accident occurred. Although you may want to tell friends and family what happened via social media, posting to such platforms may later cause legal issues. Even the simplest post saying the accident happened but you’ll be okay will hurt your case later on. If you want to share information or talk about what happened, you should contact your close friends and family in person (offline). You should be aware that anything you post online can be used in court or depositions. Although you might delete it, screenshots may still exist or someone may testify about what they saw online. If you are involved (or potentially will be involved) in any legal proceedings, you should always be discreet on social media.
8) Contact a Local Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer
Getting a trailer tractor accident lawyer involved early in your case may be crucial, regardless of whether you were in the accident or if a family member was. You might not be able to perform each step listed above as the loved one of an injured person if you weren’t at the scene, but you can help your loved one navigate complicated insurance and legal systems. Trailer tractor accident lawyers can assist in several ways. They will work to get you the settlement amount you need for all of your current and future medical treatments and lost wages. There are often multiple parties involved in truck accidents, including the driver’s employer, the trucking company, the shipper, or the manufacturer. As well as following the rules of the road, there are also specific federal regulations associated with commercial trucks.
Why Act Fast After a Tractor-Trailer Accident in Florida
The truck’s insurance company representatives and the trucking company will be on the scene quickly to begin collecting information that they may be able to use later against any people who were hurt by the truck.
The insurance company will almost immediately hire attorneys who specialize in defending these accidents before you even know how severe your injuries are.
Trucking companies may even try to get rid of evidence that might help your case.
Why Your Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyer Should Also Have Trial Experience
The majority of insurance companies use their own highly skilled attorneys to discredit serious injury claims. There are a variety of tactics used by insurance defense attorneys to undermine the validity of the case in court such as claiming pre-existing conditions caused your injuries, the car was not damaged enough for you to be injured, or delays or gaps in treatment had caused your condition. It makes all the difference to the settlement or verdict value to hire a tractor-trailer accident lawyer who knows how to handle these instances before they become a problem.
How Tractor Trailer Accident Claims Differ from Car Accident Claims
Wrecks involving tractor-trailers often involve serious or catastrophic injuries. One major difference between cars and trucks is that the damage they cause is usually far more serious. In the event of a truck collision, many motorists suffer serious or fatal injuries. The recovery process for people with paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, limb loss, and multiple fractures can be lengthy and even lifelong. Treatment can be extensive, complicated, and expensive. The more medical treatment required, the more important it is to work with an attorney and a team who will ensure that your future needs will be met.
An extensive investigation is needed for truck accident claims. When a trailer tractor crash occurs, it can be difficult to determine the cause. The evidence includes the black box of the truck, the driver’s hours-of-service logs, and the inspection and repair records for the truck. There is a good chance that the employer of the truck driver will try to withhold evidence of fault, meaning you need someone who knows what to look for, and knows how to preserve and obtain evidence. A truck wreck always involves more than one party trying to avoid liability. The reason it sounds technical is that it is. Almost all truckers involved in a crash are working for someone else. Consequently, the employer of the driver may share some responsibility for the crash. Trucking companies may be partially or fully responsible for a maintenance issue, low driver qualifications, or overworking the driver to the point where it was unsafe for them to operate the truck.
As mentioned earlier federal trucking laws and regulations typically play a role in tractor-trailer accidents. Several federal regulations apply to truckers and trucking companies, including the hiring and licensing process, hours-of-service regulations, and truck inspection and maintenance requirements. For instance, the company and the driver violate federal law when a driver goes over their hours. It is vital that you hire an attorney who knows the federal regulations as well as how to demonstrate that laws have been broken.
Riskiest Roads in Pinellas for Tractor Trailer Accidents
Pinellas County’s US 19 has been ranked as the most dangerous road time and again. Within the stretch from Clearwater to Palm Harbor, there are eight of Pinellas’ top 25 most crash-prone intersections. Unfortunately, I-275 and Ulmerton Road fall onto this list. These three roads have more traffic-related deaths than any other in the county in Florida. High-speed traffic intersecting many lanes is a deadly combination. Pedestrians are at a particularly high risk of death. Each of these roads has a speed limit of over 40 mph. When a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian at this speed, 85% of them die. In a collision with a car, 45% of people are killed at a speed of 30 mph.
The 25 Most Crash Prone Intersections
- US 19 and SR 584/Tampa Rd
- US 19 and SR586/Curlew Rd
- I-275 and SR 687/4th Street N
- I-275 and 22nd Ave N
- US 19 and Alderman Rd
- SR 686/SR688/Ulmerton Rd and 34th Street N
- I-275 and 38th Ave N
- Alt. US 19/ Seminole Blvd and Park Blvd N
- US 19 and Nebraska Ave
- I-275 and SR 600. Gandy Blvd
- I-275 and 54th Ave N
- I-275 and SR 686/ Roosevelt Blvd
- SR 586/Curlew Rd and CR 611/McMullen Booth Rd
- SR 688/Ulmerton Rd and CR 611/49th Street N
- CR 1/Starkey Rd and SR 694/Park Blvd
- SR 584/Tampa Rd and Forest Lakes Blvd
- US 19 and Klosterman Rd
- CR 1/Starkey Rd and CR 296/Bryan Diary Rd
- SR 686/Roosevelt Blvd and CR 611/49th Street Rd
- I-275 and SR 688/Ulmerton Rd
- US 19 and SR 688/Ulmteron Rd
- SR 580/66th Street and 54th Ave N
- US 19 and Republic Dr/Hammock Pine Blvd
- SR 693/66th Street and 54th Avenue N
- US 19 and Belleair Rd
How to Handle Medical Expenses For Tractor Trailer Injuries in Florida
When there is an accident involving a commercial truck that is the driver’s fault, there is an assumption that the trucking company will pay for the medical bills automatically. If a truck driver negligently causes a crash, the injured victim should not be held liable or responsible; however, in Florida, there are laws that govern the payment and responsibility for medical bills following a truck accident. In the event of a truck accident, it is important to understand the applicable laws as well as insurance policies in place that may provide potential coverage for medical bills.
To demonstrate how medical bills are typically paid after a truck accident, let’s look at a truck accident scenario. Suppose someone drives a motor vehicle insured by State Farm. A semi-tractor trailer crashes into the back end of their Nissan Altima. During the crash, the rear end of the car hits a guard rail. The airbags are deployed. After arriving on the scene, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper issues the truck driver a citation for careless driving. Firefighters transport the driver of the insured car to the hospital and have them evaluated in the emergency room. Let’s suppose the fire department bill is $800 and the emergency room bill is $2,000. A neurologist follows up with them and they receive therapy. The medical bills incurred over the next 3 months amount to $6,000. The sum total is $8,800.
Many people believe that the truck company should and will pay these medical bills under these facts, but this is not the case. Florida law requires every registered automobile owner to carry PIP (Personal Injury Protection). Purchasing insurance is mandatory if you own a vehicle that is operable and requires at least the purchase of PIP and property damage coverage. Up to $10,000, 80 percent of the reasonable and necessary expenses will be covered by PIP. This general coverage and rule are not applicable to everyone.
The Statute of Limitations for Tractor Trailer Accidents in Florida
State laws define the time limits during which a victim has to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. A judge can dismiss the case based on these grounds alone if the victim waits until after this point to file a claim. In Pinellas, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and auto accidents all have a four-year statute of limitations. In order to protect your rights after an accident, it is crucial to contact a Florida trailer tractor accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact Our Pinellas Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyers Today
In the wake of a semi-truck accident, we aid our clients by obtaining crucial items, like skid mark measurements, photos of the damaged vehicles before they are altered or destroyed, videos from local businesses, and preventing document destruction by the trucking companies and their insurance companies. We obtain police reports, hire experts, and handle the insurance company for you. All of this is done to gather evidence that will be needed in the future to convince the insurance company to pay the fair, right amount in a settlement, or to prove the case to a jury in a trial. Contact Herman & Wells to get in touch with a tractor-trailer accident lawyer today.
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Our client, a teenager, was severely injured as a passenger. After gathering the evidence, we persuaded all of the insurance companies involved to resolve the case for our client.
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