Tampa sees a lot of commercial motor vehicle traffic—most of it in the form of trucks and tractor-trailers bringing in food for us to consume and hauling our industrial goods and seafood out to the rest of the nation. Plenty of commercial vehicle traffic, however, runs within Tampa, ferrying goods, mail, and packages around the city.
Unfortunately, too often, Tampa commercial vehicle crashes leave victims injured or even dead. When this happens, what legal remedies do victims have? We answer that question, and provide more information about commercial vehicle accidents in Tampa, below.
Tampa-Area Commercial Motor Vehicle Wrecks
In the most recent year for which data is available, 29,037 crashes took place in the Tampa area, 3,117 involved commercial vehicles; commercial vehicles injured 935 persons and killed 15—about 10 percent of the total.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that across the nation, 4,951 people were killed and 151,000 people were injured in large truck wrecks the same year. The FMCSA defines large trucks as vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
Why Commercial Vehicle Accidents Are so Complex
When you get into an accident with a commercial motor vehicle, you have to deal with not only your insurance company but at least one other insurance company.
If the commercial driver was at fault, you can sometimes sue more than one entity for compensation after the crash, potentially including:
- The driver;
- The company the driver works for;
- The vehicle’s owner;
- The company that provides maintenance for the vehicle, if different than the company that owns the vehicle;
- The vehicle manufacturer;
- A parts manufacturer if a faulty part caused the accident;
- The truck’s lessor and/or lessee; and
- The dispatcher, in some cases.
In cases where a trucking company uses another company to load a truck, you might also sue the loading company if a poorly distributed or secured load caused the accident.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
When you get into an accident, one of the first things you have to do, since Florida is a no-fault state, is to call your insurance company. You should not give them any information other than your name; your vehicle year, make, and model; the date of the accident; the location of the accident; and your truck accident attorney’s contact information.
If the other person’s insurance company or attorney calls you, refer them to your truck accident attorney. Insurance companies will use anything you say to twist the facts so they can deny your claim or make you an unfair and unreasonable offer.
Insurance companies are sneaky because they are in business to make a profit. The less they pay out, the higher their profit margins. Even your own insurance company, to which you have likely paid thousands of dollars over the years, will try to find a reason to deny your claim or offer you a low settlement.
Commercial Vehicle Accident Injuries
The injuries you suffer in a commercial vehicle accident depend on the circumstances of the accident, including the speed of both vehicles, the size of your vehicle, the size of the commercial vehicle, and many other factors.
Injuries in commercial vehicle accidents often include:
- Bumps, bruises, scratches, and cuts;
- Road rash;
- Sprains, strains, pulled muscles, torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries;
- Simple and/or compound fractures;
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries;
- Back and spinal cord injuries;
- Internal injuries; and
- Traumatic brain injuries.
Some injuries, such as road rash and burns can lead to disfigurement. Some broken bones can also lead to disfigurement, such as a broken nose. Other injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, can lead to long-term or permanent disabilities.
Regardless of the severity of your injuries, you should always seek medical attention after an accident. Some injuries take hours or even a day or more to manifest. When you get to the hospital, let the medical team know that you were in an accident with a commercial vehicle and that you need them to check you from head to toe.
After an accident, you may recover economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Punitive damages are only available if the driver or entity that caused the accident was grossly negligent in their behavior. To receive any damages, you must prove the other party was at fault for the accident and present evidence of the economic and non-economic impacts of your injuries.
If you decide to seek punitive damages, the trial process is a little longer. While asking for punitive damages is complicated, if the defendant was grossly negligent, it might be worth the extra hassle going after punitive damages.
Special damages, or economic damages, are damages with a set dollar amount.
These are often reimbursement for things you have already paid for and can include:
- Past medical expenses, for those you incur between the time of the accident and the time of settlement or trial award.
- Future medical expenses you expect to incur after a settlement or a trial award.
- Medical aids.
- Replacement or repair of personal property, including your vehicle.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses if you lost a loved one in a commercial motor vehicle accident.
General damages, or non-economic damages, are designed to compensate you for the ways the accident has impacted your quality of life.
They can include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Loss of use of a bodily function;
- Loss of use of a body part;
- Inconvenience; and
Keeping a diary of what you can and cannot do, along with your medical records, can provide proof of how the accident changed your life.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a commercial motor vehicle accident, contact a Tampa truck accident lawyer for a free consultation.