If you or someone you love has been in a wreck in Tampa with a tractor-trailer, commercial truck, semi-truck, 18 wheeler, or some other type of big rig, you should know that there is definitely specialized knowledge necessary to handle this type of injury case properly. Most of the time there is more to it than just the simple negligence of the driver. The truck accident lawyers you hire need to know and understand the complexities of the Federal Motor Carrier Act, the Florida Motor Carrier Act, and the various reasons truck crashes happen. At Distasio Law Firm, we know how to hold the proper parties accountable in this type of case for the injuries they have caused.
Countless large commercial trucks share the road with much smaller cars in Tampa every day. They can literally weigh upwards of 80,000 lbs. You can imagine, then, what can happen to people who get involved in a collision with one of these vehicles, and what the odds of surviving or escaping uninjured actually are. Most people involved in these kinds of accidents will sustain serious, potentially life-threatening injuries that could be catastrophic or get worse over time, particularly if proper medical treatment is not obtained. Distasio Law Firm has the experience to handle any type of catastrophic truck injury case.
For a free legal consultation with a truck accidents lawyer serving Tampa, call (813) 259-0022
How we Investigate 18-Wheeler Collisions
Many times, the trucking company will send someone out to the scene of the crash under the pretext of doing an accident investigation. It often seems like their real job is to find ways to minimize their responsibility and their driver’s responsibility for what happened. Under these circumstances, it is imperative we act fast. If we are notified immediately after the crash, we can start our investigation right away, before important evidence disappears. The following are typical investigation steps we take:
Sending an Investigator to the scene: With typical truck accidents that involve serious injury, law enforcement does a detailed investigation. They interview witnesses, take photographs, and take measurements. It’s rare that we can get to the scene while the investigation is still happening. But we can still gain valuable information after the fact. There will be some measurements and photographic angles law enforcement may miss.
Inspecting the Semi Truck: If we get involved before the truck has been repaired or salvaged, we can inspect it, take photos of it, and look for clues that may have contributed to the crash. Common systems we may inspect are the tires, the head lights, the brake lights, and the brakes themselves.
Vehicle information Tracking Systems: Today’s modern trucks have entered the information age. They have all kinds of information tracking systems inside them. The black box that records impact is just the beginning. In addition, most have GPS, video recording, and even voice recording. Not only can they capture the event itself, but they may very well capture the driver’s history of driving behaviors over the past 30 days.
Accident reconstruction experts: The truck driver’s account of what happened is often wrong. A good accident reconstruction expert can take the physical evidence from the scene to determine what actually happened. Crush damage, photographs, skid marks, and roadway conditions can be analyzed to create a true recreation of the crash to disprove the truck driver’s account.
Potential defendants: Today’s trucking companies are very sophisticated. They are experts at trying to minimize their responsibility for what happened. They often claim they are not responsible because the truck driver is an independent contractor. A good truck accident lawyer can overcome this defense and find other potential responsible parties as well. Typical potential defendants include the trailer owner and the broker that was involved in setting up the shipment.
Tampa Truck Accidents Lawyer Near Me (813) 981-1651
Tampa Truck Accidents Lawyer Near Me (813) 259-0022
What You Can do to Help Your Semi Truck Case
You or your loved one may not be in any condition at the scene to do anything other than cooperate with lifesaving medical attention that you need. Of course, your health must be your first priority. However, if you or a loved one at the scene is able to gather evidence, then definitely do so. The following are things that can be gathered:
Call 911: Most of the time truck accidents are so severe that someone else has already called 911. If not, definitely do so. Do not let the truck driver convince you it’s not necessary if your vehicle is damaged or you are in pain.
Cooperate with Medical Personnel that come to the Scene: Get checked out by medical personnel. You may be in shock and may not be able to recognize the extent of your injuries. If EMTs suggest going to the hospital, you should do so. Your health is too important to risk not going.
Be Careful What You Say: The truck driver may be looking to blame you. So do not say things that could be misinterpreted as admitting you were at fault for what happened. Even when talking with the law enforcement officer that investigates the crash, be careful about what you say. Don’t blurt out things like “I was really going fast” or “I didn’t see the truck until it was too late”. You have to tell the truth, but you do not have to volunteer things.
Gather Witness Information: Law enforcement often fail to get the full names and contact information of valuable witnesses. You should definitely take down names, addresses, and telephone numbers of witnesses if possible.
Take photos: Overtime your memory may fade about key things at the scene. So take lots of photographs. Take photos of the truck, your car, and the roadway. Make sure some of the photos of the truck include all visible words, logos, and numbers on the truck itself.
Get all the Follow-up Medical Care You Need: In the days following the crash, find a doctor skilled in treating people that have been in an accident and treat the kind of injuries you have. If you do not follow through with the medical care you need, the trucking company will say you were not really hurt that bad. If your having trouble finding a doctor or do not have health insurance, we may be able to help you find a doctor to treat you anyway.
Get an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney: It is likely that after this kind of accident, the trucking company will attempt to prevent the cause of the accident (perhaps negligence) from being traced back to them. To try to cover up their own mistakes and curtail any investigations into their company, they may act quickly and offer the injured party a low-ball settlement. What they’re really trying to do is avoid responsibility for paying out the true value of the claim. An experienced Tampa Truck accident attorney can help you get full value for your claim.
Who is Responsible for Your Semi Crash
Inexperienced truck accident lawyers look no further than the semi-truck driver. But the cause of most truck accidents is often more complex than just blaming the driver. Other potential responsible parties are:
The Trucking Company: Today’s trucking companies have set up their drivers as independent contractors in an effort to avoid responsibility for the driver’s actions. We know how to prevent this from happening in most cases. In addition, we explore potential claims against the trucking company for negligent hiring, negligent maintenance of the truck, and failure to follow other safety measures required by the Federal Motor Carrier Act.
The Owner of the Trailer: Semi-truck tractors pull large trailers full of cargo behind them. The trailer is rarely owned by the Trucking company or the truck driver. Instead, the trailer is usually owned by some other company. Often that company also owns the cargo inside the trailer. When the trailer is improperly maintained, the trailer owner may have some responsibility for the crash.
Brokers: Sometimes the loads carried by the trailers are not arranged by the trucking company. Instead a separate broker is responsible for setting up the load. A good lawyer can often find a way to hold the broker responsible in some cases for broker liability.
Mechanics: Trucking mechanics can make critical mistakes in inspecting, diagnosing problems, repairing the vehicle, or maintaining the vehicle. These mistakes can lead to the truck malfunctioning and or the driver losing control of the truck. Many times, these mechanics are not employed by the trucking company and we have to investigate to find out the entity that should be held responsible for their actions.
Cargo Loaders: Sometimes improperly loaded cargo can lead to driver loss of control. Our job is to find the company responsible for employing these cargo loaders.
Defective 18-wheelers: Sometimes the truck or trailer is defective either because of faulty design or because it was altered after being sold. When this happens, the vehicle manufacturer or the entity that altered the vehicle may be responsible.
Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
Accidents with large tractor-trailers involved can happen for many different reasons. But certain causes seem to happen more than others. The following are a list of the most common causes of truck accident crashes:
- Pressure to get the cargo delivered fast causes the driver to speed
- Pressure to drive long hours without proper breaks causes driver fatigue
- Negligent hiring of unqualified drivers or drivers with a poor track record
- Failing to properly maintain the safety systems of the tractor including the tires, brakes, axles, or lights
- Failing to properly secure the cargo or overloading the trailer
- Distracted driving that includes texting, using a cell phone, or other risky behavior
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
- Aggressive driving such as following too closely, cutting off other drivers, speeding, and improper lane changes
- Failing to stop at red lights
Serious Truck Accident Injuries
The momentum created by a tractor-trailer truck, often causes severe impacts. The injuries caused in the collision can be serious, long-lasting, permanent, and even life-ending. Typical injuries include:
- Traumatic Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Crushed or broken bones
- Neck and back traumatic injury
- Herniated Discs
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Severe burns
The ongoing medical costs from these injuries can be more than anyone could afford on their own. With these types of injuries, loss of work in the past and into the future is often inevitable as well. Paying for these medical expenses and lost wages should be the responsibility of the trucking company whose driver caused the collision.
In addition to the financial losses, there are devastating human losses that can include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical pain and suffering
- Wrongful Death
The Tampa truck accident lawyers at Distasio Law Firm know how to make sure the true cost of these injuries are taken into account when holding the responsible party accountable for their actions.
Tampa is a Hub for Interstate Trucking
One of the reasons Tampa is a place in Florida where a large number of trucking accidents happen is because of the Port of Tampa. Located in the Channelside district of Downtown Tampa, Port Tampa Bay is considered the largest cargo tonnage port in Florida. Cargo ships arrive daily at the port. The containers full of cargo that arrive on these ships are loaded onto trailers and driven from the port of Tampa by semi-truck tractors all over Florida.
Another reason Tampa has a large number of collisions involving commercial trucks stems from the roadway system created to support the Port of Tampa. Special Tampa truck routes have been created to support the Port. Common trucking routes that flow to and from the port include:
- East 4th Avenue from Channelside Driver to N 22nd Street
- East 7th Avenue from N 22nd Street to N 34th Street
- N 21st Street from Adamo Drive (SR 60) to E 23rd Avenue
- N 22nd Street from Adamo Drive (SR 60 to E Hillsborough Avenue
- Interstate 75: I-75 is a main trucking artery that flows right past Tampa
- Interstate 275: I-275 branches off I-75 and acts as a bypass to route local traffic throughout Tampa Bay
- Interstate 4: I-4 Is the main trucking corridor that allows truckers to travel east and west across Florida
- Highway 60: 60 runs parallel to I-4 and allows for more local travel
- Highway 301: 301 is another important local highway that allows truckers to move to and from Tampa.
How the Tampa Truck Accident Attorney’s at Distasio Law Firm Can Help
Truck accident cases not only have very complex legal issues, but they can also be very expensive for a law firm to pursue. You need a law firm that is both experienced in handling these types of cases and also has the financial resources to take on the trucking company involved. Some of the ways Distasio law firm can help include:
- Using our experience to evaluate if you have a right to recover for your losses
- Help you find doctors that will provide you medical care even if you do not have health insurance to pay for it
- Having the financial resources to properly investigate and prove your case
- Hiring the right expert trucking witnesses to prove what was done wrong
- Demonstrating to the trucking company the extent of your injuries, the cost of your medical care, and the extent of your lost income
- Knowing the true value of your case and negotiating a fair settlement
- If a fair settlement is not offered, filing a lawsuit and proving your case
- When necessary, having the willingness and the ability to go to trial
Searching for a Lawyer for a Truck Accident in Tampa?
At Distasio Law Firm we know you are going through a difficult time and our attorneys will guide you through the process and be there to provide you advice in private and be your advocate in public.