Truck Accident Lawyers in Pensacola
Dedicated Advocates for Truck Crash Victims and Their Families
Truck accidents can cause the most devastating injuries, simply due to the size and weight of the vehicles. Truck accident cases also are often the most difficult to pursue, because trucking companies and their teams of insurance company lawyers aggressively fight every claim.
At Whibbs Stone Barnett, our Pensacola truck accident lawyers level the playing field. We fight just as hard for truck accident victims and their families because we see their stress and understand the urgent need to have their bills paid.
Hiring a truck accident lawyer and contacting us as soon as possible after a crash are critical to safeguarding critical evidence and ensuring a thorough investigation.
Investigating 18-Wheeler Accidents in Pensacola
During the investigation, our legal team reviews evidence and interviews witnesses, examines trucking company polices and training methods, and obtains trucking company and driver safety and inspection records and maintenance and driving logs.
With more than 60 years of combined experience, we have the resources and knowledge of trucking and personal injury laws to obtain real results. Our lawyers vigorously pursue your Pensacola accident lawsuit while upholding the ethical principles that are the foundation of our practice.
We pursue claims against owners and operators of 18-wheelers when injury accidents are caused by any of the following factors:
Real Help with Tractor-Trailer and Semi-Truck Accidents
Our Pensacola accident attorneys understand the differences between pursuing a semi-truck accident and a car accident claim. A semi-truck injury claim involves unique factors — different state and federal laws apply to commercial drivers than to average motorists, and truck vehicle engineering and maintenance are beyond what’s required of a typical car.
Pensacola truck accident lawyers at our firm often employ the following reputable specialists to strengthen your case:
- Accident reconstruction specialists
- Human factors experts
- Expert truck mechanics
- Engineering experts
- Medical specialists
In fatal truck accident cases, a Pensacola wrongful death attorney at our firm collaborates with our truck accident legal team to achieve the best results.
What Causes Commercial Truck Accidents?
Accidents with large tractor-trailers tend to be some of the most complicated cases, because there are often multiple contributing factors, and there are several parties that may share responsibility. Here are some of the most common reasons why semi-truck accidents occur:
- Speeding/Aggressive Driving: Truck drivers have tight schedules to keep, and in order to meet deadlines that are often unrealistic, they may exceed the speed limit and generally drive in an aggressive manner. This type of driving behavior increases the risk of a collision. Speeding is especially dangerous for large trucks. Large trucks weigh up to 20 times more than the average passenger car, and as a result, require much more time to stop than do smaller vehicles. The Utah Department of Transportation explains that the average passenger car traveling at 65 miles per hour would require 316 feet to come to a complete stop (about the length of a football field). A large truck weighing 80,000 pounds, on the other hand, would require 525 feet to stop when traveling at 65 miles per hour, and under ideal conditions. Of course, the faster a truck is traveling, the more time it will require to stop. The risks of speeding trucks are clear: when truck drivers operate their vehicles at unsafe speeds, the risk of collision and severity of collision are both increased. As commercial carriers, truck drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles with a heightened duty of care; following the speed limit and slowing speeds when conditions require it are part of that duty.
- Distracted Driving: The vast majority of motor vehicle accidents involve some type of driver distraction. For truckers, there is always the temptation to send and receive texts and do similar things on their smart phones to deal with the boredom of driving for hours on end. Texting while driving is also a big problem with other vehicle drivers, and it is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes.
- Drunk Driving: To deal with the stress of the job, some commercial drivers turn to alcohol or prescription or illegal drugs. It is widely known that chemical impairment slows reaction times, alters a driver’s state of mind, and generally causes motorists to make bad driving decisions.
- Drowsy Driving: Drowsiness or fatigue is a contributing factor in hundreds (and some experts believe thousands) of fatal accidents each year. Truck drivers are particularly susceptible to driving while drowsy, because they are on the road for several hours, often during evenings and overnights when it is harder to stay awake.
- Mechanical or Product Failures: Semi-trucks log thousands of miles over the road each month. For this reason, it is absolutely essential that they are properly maintained. When this does not occur, mechanical breakdowns that lead to accidents become more likely. Another issue that is closely related to this is a dangerous or defective vehicle or vehicle part that malfunctions in the wrong place and at the wrong time.
- Improperly Loaded Trucks: Large commercial trucks have weight limits and specific loading procedures that must be followed. When these limits are exceeded and/or the truck is unevenly loaded, it increases the risk of the vehicle rolling over or getting tipped to its side under the wrong set of circumstances.
What to Do After an Accident With a Big Rig
The steps you take immediately after a vehicle accident will have a major impact on your health and well-being, and your right to file a legal claim to obtain compensation for your losses. Whether you are reading this on your phone right after an accident or you are doing research, we are going to give you five of the most important things you need to do if you are in an accident with a commercial vehicle:
- Get Medical Help
The first priority above everything else is making sure everyone who may be hurt gets proper medical attention. So, the first call you should make is to 911 so an ambulance can be summoned to the accident scene. You may or may not feel injured, but sometimes, injuries can be masked by the shock and adrenaline rush of the event. For this reason, you should always get checked out by a medical professional, so any injuries you may have suffered can be treated immediately.
- Call the Police
Whenever there is an accident with injuries (which is highly likely if a large commercial truck is involved), the police should be brought to the scene. Oftentimes, the 911 operator will contact the police for you. If that did not occur, call them directly. Bringing the police is important for many reasons. For one thing, they will help safely secure the accident scene by getting the vehicles to the side of the road and directing traffic. The police will also produce an official accident report, which will be relied upon heavily to determine what caused it.
- Gather Information About the Accident
Even though the police will create an official report, you should also put together your own documentation about what happened to help ensure that your legal rights are protected. If you are physically able, take multiple photographs of the accident scene from as many angles as possible. And if you happen to have a dashboard camera, be sure to capture any video footage of the crash. Finally, write your own report about the accident while everything is fresh in your mind. If you are unable to write at the moment, use the voice recorder on your cell phone to create an audio report that can be transcribed later on.
- Secure Statements from Witnesses
If there are any individuals who saw what happened, obtain their contact information and ask them if they are willing to provide statements. Sometimes, witnesses may be willing to provide a video or audio statement (which you can record on your cell phone) while at the scene. Memories fade over time, and stories can change. So, if any witnesses agree to provide statements, secure them while you have the opportunity.
- Be Careful What You Say
As you exchange information with the commercial truck driver and speak with the police, witnesses, and later the insurance company, be polite and courteous, but never apologize or in any way imply that the accident was your fault. Anything you say could be used against you to undermine your claim. For this reason, be cautious about what you say and let the experts sort out who was to blame for the accident.
How to Drive Safely Around Large Trucks
Consider the following tips for driving safely around large trucks:
- Provide trucks with plenty of room. One mistake that many passenger car drivers tend to make is assuming that large trucks require the same amount of space to stop and otherwise navigate their vehicles as do passenger cars. However, this could not be further from the truth; large trucks, due to their weight, need a significantly greater amount of room than do passenger cars. Whether you are driving behind or in front of a big rig truck driving, make sure there is plenty of distance between your vehicle and theirs. This is especially important if you are changing lanes in front of a big truck – never cut an 18-wheeler off.
- Know where truck blind spots are and avoid them. Another important thing to know when driving around large trucks is the location of a truck’s blind spots. Named as such because drivers cannot see vehicles or objects within blind spots, large trucks have bigger blind spots than do smaller vehicles. Large blind spots exist:
- Directly in front of a large truck for 20 ft.;
- Directly behind a large truck for 30 ft.;
- Two lanes to the right of a large truck; and
- One lane to the left of a large truck.
- Always pass on the left and avoid “squeeze play.” You should always pass a big rig truck on the left-hand side, in large part because a truck driver may not be expecting vehicles to pass on their right, and the blind spots on the right-hand side of a truck are larger. In addition to this, though, drivers who attempt to pass on the right may become victims of what is known as “squeeze play.” Squeeze play occurs when an 18-wheeler is planning to make a right-hand turn, and as such may move their vehicle to the left lane in order to provide more room (large trucks require more turning room, and have to swing wide as such). A driver may mistakenly think that the driver’s move to the left is a sign that the truck is planning to travel straight, and therefore may attempt to pass the truck on the right. As the truck begins its right-hand turn, the smaller vehicle may be “squeezed” between the truck and the curb, resulting in a devastating accident.
When You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer in Pensacola, FL You Can Trust
More than 500,000 trucking accidents occur each year in the United States, and about 5,000 of these result in fatalities. If you or a loved one has become a statistic, contact a truck accident lawyer in Pensacola, FL or Fort Walton Beach, FL at Whibbs Stone Barnett online or at [phone]. We offer a FREE CONSULTATION on all personal injury claims and look forward to delivering the service you expect and the compensation you deserve. We really can help.