Have you been seriously injured in a truck accident? Has a loved one recently died in a West Palm Beach truck accident? Truck accidents involve large commercial trucks, often weighing up to 20 to 30 times more than other vehicles on the road. The results of these accidents can be severe and often fatal.
Whether you’re having trouble getting fully compensated or you already know you want to file a legal claim, a top West Palm Beach, Florida truck accident lawyer at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, lvey & Fronrath can help you recover damages in full. We are prepared to help you win justice in your case.
Meet with a commercial truck accident lawyer at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, lvey & Fronrath during a free, no-obligation consultation. You don’t pay until we win. Contact us at 561-867-4117 or send us a message now to get started.
Truck accident claims we help with
When your best path is a legal claim, a Florida truck accident lawyer at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, lvey & Fronrath will help you find out what to claim from the trucking company and its insurance provider. We are not afraid to take on large insurance companies who offer settlements that don’t adequately compensate you for your physical and financial suffering.
Most common types of claims we handle
When you’ve been seriously injured in a truck accident, you may claim a wide range of damages to get compensated in full for your losses. Common claims in injury accidents include but are not limited to:
Lost wages and future wages
General damages, such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, and mental anguish
Florida has a statute of limitations that governs the time you need to bring forth a personal injury claim to the local West Palm Beach court. If you need to pursue a personal injury claim, file your claim within two years from the date that the accident occurred.
In many truck accidents, vehicles are totaled or need many different repairs, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. You can pursue a property damage lawsuit to cover all related damages from the truck accident, which can also include damage to personal possessions.
For property damage claims, the statute of limitations in Florida says that you need to file your lawsuit within two years from the date of the accident to recover compensation through legal action.
If a loved one has died due to the negligence or wrongful act of a truck driver and/or the trucking company, a winning West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, lvey & Fronrath will help the decedent’s family claim the full value of the decedent’s life, in addition to related damages.
Catastrophic accidents are worst-case scenarios, but if you need to file a wrongful death claim against the liable parties, you’ll need to do so within two years of the date of the person’s death.
What is the truck’s “black box” and what does it track?
Electronic control modules
Commercial trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. When these vehicles collide with cars on the road, they can cause extreme damage and even fatalities. Determining fault in a West Palm Beach truck accident can be difficult. Truck drivers have large companies and manufacturers on their side.
Fortunately, the development of electronic control modules, or “black boxes”, can help prove what really happened in a truck accident.
Electronic control modules are built into the engines of modern trucks. They capture data about the truck itself and store it internally. This can include:
Amount of time driving over 65 miles per hour
Seat belt usage
Air bag performance
Number of hard stops
Electronic control modules were designed to counter warranty claims that were unjustified. This way, the manufacturer could ensure that the car was performing properly without relying on the owner’s claims.
But they have another benefit: helping attorneys prove liability in truck accidents. These devices can provide information on the operation of the truck, which may have caused the accident. Its data can also be compared to a truck driver’s personal log to ensure they weren’t in excess of their driving time.
Typically, these black boxes hold data for 30 days. As the recording capacity fills, the module begins recording over previous data. Attorneys need to move quickly to ensure the critical data isn’t accidentally erased.
Electronic logging devices
Electronic logging devices connect to the electronic control module in a commercial truck. It is specifically designed to ensure that drivers are adhering to the United States’ mandated Records of Duty Status and Hours of Service. As of 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Organization requires all trucks use an electronic logging device to monitor their hours.
Electronic logging devices track:
A logging device is specifically programmed with a duty status or special driving status. This allows it to track that the driver is following federal procedure.
Unlike electronic control modules, which are included in cars by the manufacturer, a truck company or driver is responsible for their electronic logging device. They can be units physically built into the truck or can be transmissions from a mobile device. This allows a company to monitor their drivers’ performance via satellite every hour.
Attorneys can use electronic logging devices to get a full report of the truck driver’s location, speed, and whether the driver is over their hours. This helps paint a full picture of the truck accident. For example, a driver who is significantly over their hours due is at a higher risk of fatigue or falling asleep at the wheel. An attorney could connect this fatigue to erratic driving that led to a West Palm Beach truck accident, injuring their client.
Event data recorders
Event data recorders are the third type of black box commonly found in trucks. This device is found in commercial trucks, although their model and the information they record may vary depending on the producer. While the other devices monitor the truck’s and the driver’s operation, the event data recorder specifically records information regarding a truck accident.
Event data recorders don’t start recording until they are triggered by an engine problem or change in speed. The record only contains seconds of data from before and after an accident, but the information it records can be vital to a liability case.
These black boxes may record:
Electronically sensed faults in the engine
Wheel speed change
When brakes were applied
Cruise control status
Malfunction indicator light
An event data recorder provides specific data about the moment of an accident. It begins recording when it senses a trigger and maintains a maximum of a few minutes of information that can determine if the vehicle or the driver was the cause of a truck accident.
Why semi-truck black boxes are crucial for tractor-trailer accident victims
Commercial truck black boxes provide an accurate depiction of the events of the crash. They can show the truth about an engine’s performance, a driver’s fatigue, and the truck’s behavior moments before the accident occurs. This can help a victim determine who is truly liable for their injuries.
Although the driver might seem responsible at first glance, the electronic control module could reveal a significant engine failure that is the fault of the manufacturer. Knowing this would allow the victim to skip a tedious claim against the company and/or the driver, and to seek damages from the manufacturer who is truly at fault.
However, truck companies are aware of how vital these black boxes are to a plaintiff’s case. They may not be willing to relinquish this data if it could prove their liability in a truck accident. In some instances, they may try to destroy it.
That’s why having a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer on your side is as crucial as a black box for determining liability. An attorney can ensure that the data from these black boxes is made available to the prosecution and brought to court.
These are the steps a truck attorney will take to preserve black box data before it can be destroyed:
Request the materials via a written order to the truck company, their insurance carrier, and their legal representative(s)
If that is not complied with, seek a protective order from the courts to ensure the preservation of the data
Determine custody of the vehicle
Seek access to the vehicle and the black box before inspection
Determine if another truck was on the scene and collect the black box data from it as well
Hire a company to read the data on the black box. Ensure they witness the removal of the black box(es) from the vehicle.
Common causes of semi-truck collisions
Every driver on a highway knows the force of a truck driving past their car. You can feel the power of the massive truck as it drives past you. The size of these vehicles makes any misstep a risk of tragedy.
The large blind spots, heavy weights, overworked drivers, and potential for a machine error can turn a normal drive on the highway into a catastrophe that affects you and your loved ones.
Although there are many reasons that truck accidents can occur, these are the 5 most common causes of truck accidents:
Aggressive or reckless driving
Truck drivers are on the road for extended periods of time. Legally, they are required to take breaks, leaving them with no choice but to speed up to make delivery deadlines. This can lead to stress.
Truck drivers are prone to road rage and aggressive driving tactics, such as tailgating, not signaling, or failing to yield.
Like any other driver, truck drivers are at risk of distraction while driving. In order to make deadlines, many have to eat and drink behind the wheel. When their whole life is behind the wheel, they are likely to want a connection.
Talking on the phone, texting, or using social media can put everyone on the road at risk. Multitasking while driving is one of the main causes of truck accidents in the United States, even though a number of these distractions are illegal.
Truck maintenance issues
Faulty parts and shoddy repairs can lead to serious accidents on the road. Although federal regulation requires truck companies to provide safe trucks that function properly and drivers are supposed to do inspections before each journey, inadequate or faulty parts continue to be a leading cause of truck accidents.
Many trucks have manufacturer errors or faulty parts that are unaccounted for. Repairs to electrical systems, and brakes, or even replacing bald tires are not prioritized.
Your vehicle becomes more difficult to manage when you pack it full of heavy items for a road trip. Trucks are the same, but on a significantly larger scale.
Trucks are legally allowed to carry 80,000 pounds while driving. Even though this seems like a huge amount of weight, many companies will overload the vehicle to attempt to move more cargo in fewer trips. This extra weight alters the vehicle’s balance and makes it more difficult for the driver to brake.
Long hours of driving would make anyone tired. Where many of us can stop for a rest, truck drivers are under significant time crunches. Many are paid per delivery and can even get bonuses for shorter delivery times. They may even attempt to skip rest periods or sleep less to improve their time.
However, choosing profit over sleep puts everyone at risk. Truck drivers are so likely to fall asleep at the wheel that the government implemented mandatory rest times. Still, drowsy driving continues to be a significant factor in truck accidents.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a truck accident caused by one of these common factors, or any others, call 561-867-4117 to speak to an expert West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer to find out how we can help you.
Click here to learn what the law says about drivers who were partially at fault for their accident.
Common types of truck accident injuries
Truck accidents frequently result in severe, traumatic injuries, or death. Those who survive an accident can be left with life-long injuries that require ongoing medical care.
If your insurance company isn’t covering your medical care, contact our expert West Palm Beach truck accident lawyers. We’ll investigate the accident and demand that your insurance honor your claim. Common injuries our clients have suffered are:
Concussions and chronic headaches can lead to nausea, dizziness, vision issues, difficulty concentrating, loss of motor skills, speech issues, and confusion.
Lacerations, contusions, and fractures
The impact of a massive truck is bound to lead to some scrapes and bruises. Unfortunately, the force can result in scarring or even broken bones.
Spinal cord injuries
Spinal cord injuries can significantly change a victim’s life. In their most minor form, they can lead to back aches or difficulty moving for a period of time. However, spinal injuries due to truck accidents can be severe enough to cause paralysis.
Seat belt injury
Seat belt injuries are caused by the force of a truck accident, such as bruising, internal bleeding, or whiplash.
Internal bleeding that a victim may not notice immediately. It is imperative that you seek medical attention after a truck accident, even if you feel fine. Don’t risk a ruptured organ or significant internal injuries that could be fatal.
Losing a loved one is a deeply painful and devastating experience. The sudden and tragic nature of such an event leaves family and friends grappling with profound sadness, anger, and a sense of profound loss.
What damages can I collect in a truck accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, our expert West Palm Beach truck accident lawyers can help you collect damages. But what are you entitled to?
There are three main types of damages you can collect: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Additionally, if the accident caused the death of a loved one, you may be able to seek damages for wrongful death.
Economic damages are the most common way to recover damages after a truck accident. These damages refer to things that you had to pay for and can prove with a receipt. For example, you can collect economic damages for medical expenses, long-term medical care, property damage, substitute transportation, legal fees, and lost wages.
Non-economic damages are things you cannot prove cost you financially. Rather, they are meant to compensate you for your suffering due to the accident. These are more challenging to calculate as you do not have a receipt with the exact amount. However, an attorney can help you determine what compensation you are owed.
You can collect non-economic damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring or disfigurement, fear or anxiety, humiliation, or physical pain.
Punitive damages are the rarest type of damage that you can collect. These can only be sought if the at-fault party was criminally negligent, fraudulent, or malicious. These damages are meant to act as a form of punishment for the liable, rather than as compensation for the victim’s pain.
If a family member died in due to a truck accident, you may be able to collect wrongful death damages for their lost wages, loss of companionship, their medical costs, funeral expenses, and pain they endured before they died.
Contact us to find out what kind of damages you may be owed
When you’ve been in a truck accident, it is often more severe than a typical car accident, and the claims process looks a lot different. Since these accidents involve commercial vehicles, there are more parties that can be held responsible for your damages, including the truck driver, the trucking company, and the trucking company’s insurance provider. In rare cases, more parties can be held liable, such as the truck manufacturer.
When the trucking party is responsible for the damages, you’ll likely be contacted by the company’s insurance adjuster, who may offer you a low settlement to keep his client’s expenses down. Any commercial truck accident lawyer in West Palm Beach will tell you that you don’t have to take a less-than-acceptable settlement offer.
With the help of a leading West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, lvey & Fronrath, you can negotiate the settlement outside of court to meet your actual expenses and suffering in full. If settlements outside of court don’t meet your needs, we can pursue a legal claim to recover the maximum compensation possible.
Click here to learn more about the average claim for an 18-wheeler accident.