Fort Walton Beach Truck Accident Attorneys
Fort Walton Beach Truck Accident Attorneys with Decades of Experience and a Nationwide Reputation
Accidents involving tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, tankers, and other large commercial trucks can have devastating consequences. Innocent drivers and passengers can sustain life-altering injuries, and families can lose loved ones who simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you have suffered a disabling injury or lost a family member, we offer our sincere sympathies, and we want you to know that our Fort Walton Beach truck accident attorneys are here to help you in any way they can.
Our attorneys have handled serious and fatal truck accident cases around the country; and, with offices in Tallahassee, we regularly represent clients in the Fort Walton Beach area. Whether your (accident occurred on the Mary Esther Cut Off or the Miracle Strip Parkway, or you live locally and were injured out of town, we can help you recover just compensation. However, it is important that we start working on your case as soon as possible. We offer free initial consultations and you pay nothing unless we win, so contact us now for a risk-free consultation about your legal rights.
Proving Fault in a Commercial Truck Accident
There are two main things you need to prove when seeking financial compensation for a truck accident. The first of these is fault. This fault can either take the form of negligence (i.e. a driving mistake that led to a collision) or placing a defective vehicle on the road. While most truck accident cases involve negligence claims, defect claims are common as well, and our attorneys have particular experience in this complex area of the law.
So, what are some of the most-common causes of commercial truck accidents? In our experience, there are several factors that fall into this category. Large trucks are complex vehicles that are difficult to operate safely, and errors at all stages from manufacturing to driving can play a role in dangerous collisions. This includes errors such as:
- Truck design and manufacturing flaws
- Improperly loading truck cargo (i.e. overloading one side of the truck or failing to secure cargo properly)
- Failing to pressurize liquid cargo
- Using defective cargo straps and other safety equipment
- Hiring unlicensed or unqualified truck drivers
- Allowing or requiring truck drivers to spend too many consecutive hours on the road
- Tailgating, sudden braking, exceeding the speed limit, and other driving mistakes
- Driving while distracted, drowsy, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failing to check blind spots before merging or turning
- Failing to prevent truck jackknifes and rollovers
When examining potential causes (and potential sources of financial compensation), it is important not to overlook the possibility that a non-truck-related factor is responsible, or at least partially responsible for what happened. For example, other drivers’ negligence, hazardous road conditions and various other factors may have been involved as well.
What is “Vicarious Liability” in a Commercial Truck Accident Case?
The law of vicarious liability makes employers legally responsible for their employees’ conduct. As long as an employee is acting “within the scope of employment,” then his or her employer can be held liable just as if the employer had engaged in wrongful or negligent conduct directly. In virtually all circumstances, a truck driver who is behind the wheel will be considered to be acting within the scope of his or her employment, and this means that trucking companies can be held vicariously liable for truck accidents in most cases.
Why is vicarious liability important for truck accident victims? As we mentioned above, the losses stemming from a commercial truck accident can be substantial. Trucking companies know this (and they also know that they can be held liable for their drivers’ negligence), so they purchase insurance coverage to protect their assets when they get sued. As a result, in a typical case, a vicarious liability claim will provide an opportunity to recover full compensation even if the victim’s (or the family’s) losses are well into the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
Damages Your Fort Walton Beach Truck Accident Attorneys Will Pursue
The second thing you need to prove is the amount that you are legally entitled to recover. This, too, is a highly case-specific matter that requires an intimate understanding of the losses that you and your family have endured (and that you will endure in the future). Generally speaking, the damages that are available to truck accident victims and their families in Florida include:
- Medical, rehabilitation and prescription expenses
- Other out-of-pocket costs (including funeral and burial expenses in cases of wrongful death)
- Loss of income and future earnings
- Compensation for scarring, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and emotional trauma
- Compensation for loss of companionship, consortium, support and other forms of non-financial loss
Truck Accidents Caused By Company Negligence
Due to the complexity of large commercial trucks and the amount of time these trucks spend on the road, keeping up with maintenance is essential to mitigating the risk of serious and fatal collisions. Unfortunately, many trucking companies and owner-operators do not perform necessary maintenance—choosing instead to “minimize downtime” and keep their trucks driving as many hours as possible.
Common Maintenance Issues that Can Cause Serious and Fatal Truck Accidents
As Fort Walton Beach truck accident attorneys, we have significant experience handling accident claims involving maintenance issues. When we represent individuals and families in truck accident claims, we always consider the possibility that inadequate maintenance played a role. We examine all other possible causes, and we build comprehensive cases for securing maximum compensation on behalf of our clients.
Some of the most common maintenance issues involved in commercial truck accidents include:
- Failing to change oil, brake fluid or other fluids
- Failing to perform routine scheduled maintenance
- Failing to replace or retread worn tires
- Failing to replace worn brake pads or rotors
- Failing to replace burnt-out tail lights, brake lights, headlights or marker lights
- Ignoring dashboard warnings, such as “Check Engine” lights and other warning lights
- Ignoring other signs of possible maintenance needs (i.e., unusual sounds, slow acceleration or limited stopping ability)
- Missing manufacturer-recommended or federally-mandated safety inspections
In addition to these types of issues – for which the trucking company or owner-operator will typically be liable – faulty maintenance work is a common factor in truck accidents as well. If a dealership or maintenance shop performs a faulty repair job, for example, then the driver could be completely unaware that there is a safety issue with his or her truck. In cases involving faulty maintenance work, the dealership or maintenance shop that performed the work will usually be liable.
Trucking Companies and Owner-Operators Have Legal Duties to Maintain Their Trucks
Performing necessary maintenance is a fundamental aspect of ensuring that large commercial trucks are safe for the road. Not only do trucking companies and owner-operators have a duty to maintain their trucks under Florida’s negligence law, but they also have responsibilities under federal law as well. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes strict maintenance requirements for commercial trucks. When trucking companies and owner-operators fail to meet these requirements, they can be held fully liable for any accidents that result from their failures.
How Your Attorney Will Collect Evidence from Your Fort Walton Beach Truck Accident
To determine whether inadequate maintenance was a factor in your accident, our Fort Walton Beach truck accident attorneys will hire forensic and engineering experts to inspect the truck, and we will seek to gather evidence from various other sources as well. There are many ways to prove that a maintenance issue played a role in a truck accident—the key is to investigate as soon as possible and to collect the available evidence before the truck gets fixed or the evidence otherwise disappears.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Fort Walton Beach Truck Accident Attorneys
Have you been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident? For a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights, call us at 800-760-8607 or request an appointment online today.