In this guide will explain to you everything you need to know about Florida Personal Injury Law from A-Z.
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Truck accidents land thousands of people in the hospital across Florida every year. In some cases, the other driver is at fault. However, truckers are fallible, work long hours, and endure intense pressure, making them prone to mistakes. When a trucker errs and harms someone, the trucking company bears liability.
But truck accident cases differ from car accident cases. Because the causes of truck accidents are often less obvious (such as shifting cargo), more investigation may be necessary. Also, multiple litigants may be involved, including the driver, the trucking company, the cargo loading service, the truck manufacturer, the truck maintenance company, and the driver.
Truck accidents occur for myriad reasons, including the following:
Trucking companies expect their drivers to work up to 14 hours per day. A day that long at any job is going to cause extreme fatigue and is especially dangerous for truck drivers. Truckers falling asleep is an all too common cause of truck accidents.
Truckers need to keep a tight schedule, and they are paid by the mile. These factors give them an incentive to put the pedal to the metal.
Any human finds it difficult to remain alert and focused after spending long hours on the road, and a momentary lapse in concentration can be disastrous. Also, many drivers text or even watch movies, a reckless practice.
Trucking companies contract with cargo loading companies. These loaders must carefully pack the cargo to avoid a shirting load that can cause the driver to lose control.
As with a car, trucks need regular maintenance, including replacing brakes, tires, and other important mechanical elements. Neglect of maintenance, such as worn-out tires, can result in a severe accident.
Anyone entering a new profession needs training and a ramp-up period. However, new truck drivers are often given minimal training before being put out on the road, causing many “beginners’ mistake” accidents.
Though most truckers avoid alcohol and illegal drugs on duty, there have been cases of truck drivers being impaired on the road and causing major collisions.
Big rigs need to be free of mechanical defects to be safe. Unfortunately, manufacturing errors or poor materials can cause catastrophic failure and a collision.
Truck accident lawsuits differ from car accident cases in several ways. Firstly, the investigations are often longer and more intensive, especially when mechanical problems or shifting loads are at fault. Also, truck drivers must follow stringent requirements in terms of hours of service, so any investigation must involve determining if the driver violated state or federal regulations.
The trucking company and its insurer are the deep pockets that fund settlements in truck accident cases. As large entities, they have the resources to fight a claim and may be willing to extend litigation in an attempt to wear down the plaintiff, reduce their liability, or roll the dice on a trial. Because Florida is a comparative negligence state, the defense can limit payouts by imputing partial fault onto the plaintiff.
Truck accidents have many causes, and going up against a trucking company is more costly and time-consuming than a car accident claim. However, many truck accidents have severe consequences for the plaintiff, so getting justice is essential.
Imagine you are stopped at a traffic light on the way to work, sipping on your morning coffee, when a truck slams into you from behind. The truck strikes with such force that your vehicle is crushed, leaving you with broken bones, lacerations, and head injuries. Clearly, the truck driver is responsible for this accident, but there may be other liable parties as well, including the trucking company, maintenance provider, and others.
The key to success is proving liability against all of them.
When pursuing a truck accident case, Rosen Injury Law engages in an intensive investigation to determine the liable parties. Conducting the investigation often requires examining the vehicles, testing the truck for mechanical defects, reviewing pictures of the accident scene and cargo, and consulting experts.
Once we gain an understanding of the cause of the accident, we know which parties are liable. Possible defendants can include one or all of the following:
In cases with multiple defendants, we must build a case against each of the responsible parties. For instance, in the example of a trucker rear-ending you at a stoplight, the driver, the trucking company, and the maintenance provider may be at fault. The driver was negligent in paying attention to the road, and the trucking company is liable for the actions of its employee. In many cases, testing may determine that the brakes were also faulty due to poor installation by the maintenance company.
Evidence to prove these claims may include witness testimony, forensic evidence, dash cam video, and other proofs.
To prove negligence, the plaintiff must demonstrate four factors to prove the claim against each defendant:
To be held liable for another’s injury, the defendant must have a duty of care. Duty of care is generally the easiest factor to prove because it is the most absolute. If the defendant has a duty of care, he cannot easily deny this. For example, all drivers have a duty of care.
The breach of the duty of care goes to the heart of a negligence claim. The breach is the act or failure to act that caused the incident. For instance, if a truck driver caused an accident by speeding, then speeding was a breach of duty. Likewise, if brake failure was to cause, the company responsible for maintaining the truck breached the duty of care by failing to maintain the truck.
The breach of the duty of care must have resulted in harm to the plaintiff. For instance, if a speeding trucker struck your vehicle but did not injure you, then he has no liability under personal injury law, though he may be responsible for property damage.
Finally, to win damages, you must have evidence that the amounts you claim are for related losses. For instance, you may claim medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. The court will expect you to provide evidence demonstrating these damages are linked to the accident.
Proving negligence in a truck accident case requires investigation into the responsible parties, evidence of a breach in the duty of care, and proof of harm and damages. With solid evidence on your side, the trucking company has little choice but to settle your claim.
Truck accidents often seem to come out of nowhere. You may be traveling along the highway when, without warning, the truck you are passing swerves into your lane, striking your vehicle. Perhaps the truck’s cargo shifted, causing the driver to lose control, or a storm brought a sudden gust of wind that pushed the you-heavy vehicle into your lane.
If the truck hits your vehicle, you have legal grounds for damages. But trucking companies often contest even cases where liability is obvious. Therefore, it’s important to do whatever you can after a truck accident to help you build a strong case.
In this chapter, we discuss the steps to take after a truck accident.
As always, safety comes first. Is your vehicle in a location where you are protected from oncoming, high-speed traffic, particularly on a highway? If not, and it’s drivable, move to a location out of traffic flow.
If it’s safe to do so, leave your vehicle where it stopped after the collision, so it can be photographed in that position.
Of course, if it’s not drivable or you are too severely injured to move, this is a moot point. You may have to wait for emergency services.
Report the accident if you are in the condition to do so. Contacting 911 brings medical help, the jaws of life, and the police, who will conduct an accident investigation.
This is obvious if you are severely injured. However, you should still get a medical exam even if you feel you are okay if you have an injury that becomes symptomatic later. For instance, you may have sustained a head injury that is not immediately apparent.
Obviously, you cannot do this if it is unsafe to do so or you are severely injured. However, if it’s safe to do so and you are able, take photos of the crash sight. If you are unable to do so, the authorities will document the accident, and your attorney will access that information for the purposes of legal action.
As with taking photos, this depends on your level of injury and the scene’s safety. But, if possible, gather witness contact information.
When it comes to litigation, having a chronological record of events can be invaluable. As soon as you can, write down what happened in the order it occurred. Also, record the symptoms of your injuries, such as the pain and suffering you experience. This record helps establish your damages.
The trucking company and its insurers have deep pockets that allow them to fight personal injury actions tooth and nail. Experienced and aggressive plaintiff’s attorneys will take your case on contingency, leveling the playing field and allowing you to pursue the case without burdensome or impossibly high legal fees.
Effective legal counsel will investigate your claim, develop evidence to prove the defendant(s) liability, and negotiate an attractive settlement or win the case at trial.
Truck accidents can seriously injure you, perhaps in intensive care or traction. You should do everything possible to safeguard your legal rights and gather evidence to prove a claim against the liable party(s). By hiring expert legal counsel, you can beat the trucking company in court and receive all the compensation you deserve.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for a truck accident personal injury claim is two to five years, depending on the type of injury and other circumstances. The timeframe is lengthened according to certain exceptions but is shortened for wrongful death cases and claims against government entities.
Florida law recognizes several exceptions to the standard time limit that can extend how long you have to file a truck accident claim:
If you discover your injury at a later date, then the statute of limitation starts on the day you become aware of it instead of the day of the accident. Delayed discovery is rare in truck accident cases because injuries are usually immediately apparent. However, there are situations, such as head injuries, where symptoms show up at a far later time. In that case, delayed discovery could apply.
Fraudulent concealment occurs when a defendant hides evidence of their involvement. In that case, the statute of limitations begins on the day the plaintiff discovers the concealment. While it may be impossible to conceal a truck accident, fraudulent concealment could conceivably happen if a trucker fled the scene and it took time to identify the truck involved. Also, there could be another responsible entity that conceals involvement, such as a maintenance provider or truck manufacturer.
The statute of limitations for minors begins on their eighteenth birthday rather than the date of the accident. This allows minors the full benefit of the timeframe while they are old enough to bring an action on their own.
Many truck accident victims suffer injuries that incapacitate them mentally. They may be unconscious for long periods, in intensive care, or suffer a head injury that makes it impossible for them to make legal decisions. In these cases, the statute of limitations begins when the victim regains mental capacity.
For the clock to start on the statute of limitations, the defendant must be available to receive service. While many trucking companies are available to receive service, it’s possible that a truck accident defendant could leave the state of Florida, making it impossible to service a lawsuit. In that case, the clock is tolled until the defendant can be served.
While most exceptions toll the clock, a few instances result in a shorter period, including the death of the victim and cases against government entities.
Wrongful death claims have a two-year statute of limitations. The clock starts at the time of the victim’s passing, not the date of the accident. In many unfortunate situations, a truck accident victim may die of his injuries days, months, or even years after the event. The families have two years from the date of their loved one’s death to bring a wrongful death action.
The State of Florida requires personal injury victims to file a complaint directly with any government entity, so if the truck involved is owned and operated by a municipality, county, the state, or some other government entity, then you must follow these alternative procedures.
A formal complaint must be filed within three years of the incident, though the three years could be eligible for an extension under the above exceptions. The government has 180 days to respond to this complaint. If no settlement between the parties is reached and 180 days pass, then you are free to file a claim in court. If the government denies the claim prior to the 180 days, you can proceed immediately.
Florida’s statute of limitations is designed to give injured parties enough time to file a complaint while balancing the defendant’s need to gather evidence for a defense while it is still available. Claims filed based on incidents from the far distant past may be impossible for the defense to respond to, hence the statute of limitations.
To say that a party is liable for an accident is alleging that they caused it through careless or reckless acts. In terms of how a truck crash happened, you determine liability by conducting a thorough investigation. Gathering evidence at the scene and retaining accident reconstruction experts are important tasks for proving the physical, forensic causes behind a collision.
However, in the legal sense, determining who is liable for your injuries depends on the theory of liability that applies to the circumstances. You are required to prove different facts to meet the relevant legal standards and get the compensation you deserve by law. Potential parties are identified by their role in putting the 18-wheeler on the road and how their misconduct led to the accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that there are around 10,450 truck crashes in Florida every year, leading to more than 300 fatalities and 5,350 injured victims. Many of these collisions occur because of negligence, which requires you to prove that the truck operator caused the accident through a failure to drive safely. Truck drivers can commit the same negligent acts as any other motorist, such as:
In addition, truck operators can be negligent in ways that are unique to truck accidents. Examples include violations of Hours-of-Service regulations, hauling an overweight load, and distracted driving from monitoring the truck’s systems.
The truck driver may be physically present in a collision, but there are many other parties that have a hand in the operations and tasks for transporting goods. If these individuals or entities breached the duty to exercise reasonable care, they may be held accountable. For instance, you may have grounds to pursue:
If the truck driver was employed by a trucking company, there are two theories of liability against the employer:
Employers are required to use reasonable care in hiring and training truck operators. They must exercise diligence, conduct background checks, ensure the employee is licensed, and research the driver’s record with FMCSA. Failure to take these precautions may be a situation of negligent hiring.
This concept allows you to hold the employer liable indirectly, and it is based upon the employment relationship. Under vicarious liability rules, you can recover compensation from the employer when its employee causes an accident through negligent acts. The key is that the employee must have been performing job-related tasks to hold the employer accountable, which is usually the case with truck accidents.
The reality of the trucking industry means that many companies and carriers rely on leases for the truck, the driver, or both. There are also many truckers who work as independent contractors. The effect of these practices could make it legally impossible to seek compensation from an employer under the theories described above. A carrier could avoid or reduce liability by cutting the employment ties.
For this reason, the FMCSA enacted regulations on leases, creating a theory known as logo liability. When commercial carriers use trucks they do own or pay drivers they do not employ, the rule states that companies can still be held accountable. They are deemed to have exclusive possession and control over the equipment during the lease period, and the carrier assumes full liability for how it is operated. The regulations require trucks to bear the trademark of the carrier if they are leased, leading to the term logo liability.
There are thousands of parts, systems, and components onboard a truck’s tractor and trailer. Defects with any of these elements can lead to severe truck crashes, and victims have rights to pursue the manufacturer. Fortunately, you do not have to prove fault as you do with a negligence case. Defective products cases follow strict liability rules, so you only need to show that the part was flawed and it caused the collision.
Many truck crashes are fatal, but the victims who survive sustain serious, often catastrophic injuries from the violent impact with a semi, 18-wheeler, or other big rig. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are around 10,450 truck accidents in Florida every year that cause injuries to almost 5,350 victims. Due to the size differential, you can expect that the vast majority of these individuals were occupants of the passenger vehicle. FMCSA reports that trucks outweigh passenger vehicles by up to 30 times.
Speed of the vehicles, the point of impact, position in the vehicle, and many other factors affect the harm to victims. It is crucial to get medical treatment immediately for the most common injuries suffered in truck accidents, which include:
The US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) reports that motor vehicle accidents, including truck collisions, are among the top causes of traumatic brain injury (TBI). This type of injury affects how the brain works, leading to around 190 deaths per day and sending 292,350 victims to the hospital. TBI may range from minor to severe, and the most common injuries include:
The crushing of the impact, penetrating objects, and even your seatbelt can cause serious injuries to internal organs in a truck accident. Trauma to your lungs could lead to collapse, and some victims will experience cardiac arrest in the aftermath. Your kidneys, spleen, and liver are also vulnerable, and injuries to these organs can cause significant internal bleeding. Damage can also lead your organs to shut down, usually resulting in death.
Your spine is the body’s messaging center, transmitting information via the spinal cord from the brain to other parts and systems of the body. The violence of a truck crash may lead to two types of injuries.
With both complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries, the location of the trauma affects the harm to the patient. For instance, a complete spinal cord injury to the lumbar section in the lower back will affect the legs, feet, and hips. However, a complete spinal cord injury to the cervical spine near the neck is usually fatal.
Bone fractures are one of the most common injuries in a truck crash, affecting both the upper body and lower extremities. The height of the truck is a factor. The impact is to the cabin and top with many passenger vehicles, so the crash tends to cause broken bones in the hands, arms, and shoulders.
Victims of truck accidents may also suffer soft tissue injuries, including whiplash. This injury happens when the neck snaps forward and backward upon impact, and it leads to significant pain in the cervical spine, shoulders, and down the arms. Other examples of soft tissue injuries include herniated and bulging spinal discs, which involves damage to the gel-filled pads that provide cushioning between vertebrae.
When a child is hurt in a truck crash, he or she may sustain any of the same injuries suffered by adults. However, there are specific concerns with child injuries. A concussion has a more pronounced effect on a young brain, often causing cognitive and developmental disorders. Broken bones heal, but they remain weak at the point of fracture. An active child risks re-injuring the bone.
If your child suffers spinal cord injuries, a parent could become a full-time caretaker depending on the severity. Your child may require assistance with mobility, special machines to help with breathing, and food tubes for nutrition. The life expectancy for a child with spinal cord injuries is reduced considerably.
Large commercial trucks are the most massive vehicles on Florida roadways, capable of causing devastating destruction, death, and injuries in the event of a collision. Therefore, it is probably not a surprise to learn that the government has imposed strict, comprehensive rules to enhance safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is tasked with enacting trucking regulations that aim to protect the public. Truck operators, trucking companies, and other carriers face harsh penalties for violating the rules.
However, besides striving to reduce and mitigate truck crashes, FMCSA regulations may also affect your accident claim if you were hurt or lost a loved one. Safety rules exist for a reason, and violating them increases the potential for serious collisions.
There are thousands of rules enacted by FMCSA, and some are at the forefront for truck crash cases.
Every truck operator needs to procure a CDL from the state of residence, which will be valid throughout the US. To obtain a license, a trucker must go through a vision exam, a skills test, and knowledge test. Driving a commercial vehicle without a CDL means the driver did not go through this process.
Driving a truck takes concentration and commitment to some physical tasks, often leading to fatigue. FMCSA has established HOS regulations to get tired truck drivers off the road, but many skirt the laws. Plus, some operators get pressure from their employer to work longer hours.
The FMCSA maintains a Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse that collects information on truck drivers who are apprehended for impairment. The database is a resource for employers and government agencies that seek information on drug and alcohol violations.
The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for a truck is the maximum amount of weight that an axle can safely handle. When a trucker hauls loads that are overweight, jackknife truck crashes are common because the driver loses control over the trailer.
There is an entire section of FMCSA regulations dedicated to truck drivers that transport dangerous chemicals, fuels, and other dangerous substances. A special permit is required, and hazardous materials must be handled and secured according to the rules.
FMCSA will take swift, harsh enforcement action against any truck driver or company that does not comply with these and other regulations. However, the most critical outcome for violations of trucking regulations is that the roads are less safe. Violations of these rules increase potential for accidents, whether the issue is a tired truck driver, an operator who drives while impaired, or a trucking company that forces an overweight commercial vehicle on the road.
Noncompliance with hazardous materials regulations probably could increase the risk of truck accidents, but a primary threat is the release of substances that can kill or harm anyone in the vicinity. Some materials are also combustible or will explode on impact. When a truck collision happens, violations of hazmat rules make the situation far worse.
Trucking laws may also affect your rights and the legal process, but they will usually function in a way that favors your claim. Truck crash cases are based upon the legal concept of negligence, which requires you to prove four essential elements, including:
A violation of trucking regulations could be strong evidence for proving #2, because a prudent truck driver who exercises reasonable care behind the wheel would never break the law.
When failure to comply with trucking regulations is a cause or contributing factor in a truck crash, you probably expect that you can pursue legal remedies against the trucker who was in the driver’s seat. However, it is also possible to seek compensation from the truck operator’s employer. Negligence with hiring or operating the business is one theory of liability, especially where there is evidence that the trucking company pressured the trucker to violate the law. Employers may also be accountable through vicarious liability, which arises out of the employment relationship.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that there are approximately 10,400 truck accidents in Florida every year, leading to more than 5,600 casualties. Many collisions are caused by truck driver negligence, such as speeding, violations of FMCSA regulations, improper lane changes, and impaired driving. However, a truck operator is sharing the road with numerous motorists. Any of them could be partly to blame for the accident through their own negligence, including victims who suffer injuries.
When a victim had a hand in causing a truck crash, Florida’s comparative fault law applies. It does allow you to recover damages if you are partially at fault for the accident. However, it could also bar compensation in some cases due to recent changes to the statute.
The concept of comparative fault comes from the underlying theory of liability that applies in most truck accident cases, which is negligence. To recover compensation, a plaintiff must prove that the at-fault trucker directly caused the crash by failing to drive safely. However, the laws also put the focus on the actions of the victim in a collision. If you were also negligent, your damages could be reduced.
Florida’s comparative fault law was recently amended, making a significant change to the previous statute. Now, the state follows a modified comparative fault rule. You can recover compensation as long as you are less than 50 percent to blame for causing the truck accident, with apportionment being determined by the jury. Therefore, your damages could be reduced by the amount of fault attributable to you, up to 50 percent. At the point where you were 51 percent negligent, you are barred from recovering any damages.
There are other rules on comparative fault that are important to know, including the law that was in place in Florida before the recent changes. The state followed the rule of pure comparative negligence, where the 50 percent threshold does not apply. A plaintiff could be up to 99 percent for a truck accident, but he or she could still recover that 1 percent in damages.
Another concept that holds a victim responsible for their own misconduct is contributory negligence. This rule only applies in a few US states, and it is the harshest when compared to pure and modified comparative negligence. With contributory negligence, a victim is prohibited from recovering any damages if there was even a tiny percent of fault.
A victim could be partially at fault for a truck accident in the same way as the truck driver, which will often involve violations of traffic laws. Some examples of negligence by the victim include:
If the victim engaged in any of these forms of negligence, it will be up to the jury to decide how much these violations contributed to the truck collision.
From this description of Florida’s modified comparative negligence law, you can guess that unsafe driving by a victim could constitute a significant weakness in the case. There are risks with going to trial, because the jury could side with the truck driver in finding that you were more than 50 percent responsible. Under the circumstances, a settlement agreement is a wise strategy.
When you settle, the issue of comparative fault does not go to court and before the jury. However, you will be negotiating with the trucking insurance company, which will look for reasons to deny your claim or make a lowball counteroffer. Negligent driving by you is one of them. The amount you recover may be reduced because comparative negligence weakens your claim, but at least you do not risk getting nothing at trial.
If you are accused of being at partially at fault in a truck collision, the best strategy is to fight the allegations with solid evidence that you were not more than 50 percent responsible. Examples include:
The injuries from a truck crash may be severe, but victims also suffer consequences in other areas of their lives. Physical, emotional, and financial losses are devastating. When you do have sufficient evidence to prove your truck accident claim, there are multiple types of compensation you qualify to recover under Florida’s statute on damages. You will include the specifics in your demand package when filing an insurance claim, and the details about compensation will also arise during litigation.
Keep in mind that the severity of truck accident injuries means the losses for victims are likely much more overwhelming as compared to other traffic collisions. The compensation will also be higher as a result, so there can be challenges dealing with insurers who are trying to protect their bottom line.
Compensation and monetary damages are often used interchangeably in personal injury law, and they are similar. The objective is to make the victim whole and as if the truck accident never happened, at least as much as practical based upon your injuries and potential disabilities. There are two types of compensation available for victims:
In a truck accident claim, the costs of medical care will comprise a large part of your economic damages.
Depending on the details of your case, your compensation may include:
Besides the costs for medical care, there are other losses you can recover in the category of economic damages. For instance, it is likely that you will be out of work for some time due to truck accident injuries. You are entitled to lost wages you sustain until you return to your position.
Plus, you may incur additional costs that are related to your injuries and medical care. For every doctor’s appointment, you pay transportation costs by driving yourself or taking other transportation. When you fill a prescription or buy an over-the-counter pain medication, these are out-of-pocket expenses you would not incur had the truck crash never happened. Victims can recover for these costs and losses as economic damages.
The other class of damages focuses on your quality of life and how it is affected by truck accident injuries. You may not have receipts or invoices for noneconomic losses, but you most definitely suffer hardship as a victim. Through category is often referred to by the familiar term pain and suffering, there are some specific types of noneconomic damages:
When a truck collision leads to a fatality and survivors pursue a wrongful death claim, compensation works somewhat differently. In these cases, the surviving family members are considered victims who suffer losses after the death of their loved one. It is possible to recover economic damages, such as the costs of funeral expenses, burial, and medical treatment for the decedent prior to death.
Survivors can also obtain noneconomic damages for how the fatality affects their quality of life, including:
All motorists are required to comply with minimum auto insurance requirements under Florida law, and truck operators are no exception. However, liability insurance requirements are very different from what you pay as the driver of a passenger vehicle. Truck crashes are capable of massive destruction, loss of life, and injuries. Recognizing the potential for tragic outcomes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets special regulations on liability insurance coverage amounts.
To the insurance company, the higher coverage means the possibility of paying out large sums to injured victims. The insurer certainly wants to avoid hefty losses, making it challenging to recover fair compensation for your losses. Despite the pitfalls, there are strategies for dealing with the insurance company when filing a truck accident claim.
Under FMCSA regulations, truck drivers are required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance coverage to pay for the losses of victims. This requirement applies to all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) regardless of gross weight over 10,000 pounds, which is where FMCSA rules on insurance kick in. There are exceptions when the truck is hauling dangerous cargo. Truckers are responsible for carrying $1 million to transport oil and $5 million for hazardous chemicals.
With this financial exposure, insurers assign truck accident claims to their most knowledgeable, experienced employees. Their job is to find reasons to deny your claim or make a lowball counteroffer. These tactics are the reason why dealing with the insurance company requires a proper strategy.
As you are recovering from your truck collision injuries, you may be contacted by the insurance company even before you have time to consider legal options. You know the importance of retaining a truck accident attorney to handle these communications, but it is understandable if you have not done so within the days after the incident.
Depending on your circumstances, it is crucial that you handle the conversation appropriately.
The insurer might be somewhat aggressive in trying to reach you right away after the truck accident, knowing that you might not have counsel and you are starting to understand your losses. Insurance companies pressure for settlement before you can consult with an attorney, so they get away with paying less without you even realizing what would be fair.
You should avoid any conversations with the insurer. Insurers use tactics to get you to make admissions of fault or otherwise put your truck accident claim at risk. Do not provide any medical records, answer questions, or allow your discussions to be recorded. If presented with a document called a release, never sign it. You could give up important legal rights.
As soon as you are able based upon your injuries, it is important to retain legal counsel to help deal with the insurance company after a truck accident. There are three stages to the process:
A truck crash claim must be supported by solid, credible evidence, as the insurer will meticulously review it. Your attorney will thoroughly investigate and gather strong proof.
You will prepare a demand package to officially file a claim, and your lawyer will supply all relevant evidence. The documents will include a request to pay the amount of your economic and noneconomic losses.
An insurer will conduct its own investigation, typically followed by a counteroffer. Many truck crash claims settle for a fair amount after settlement negotiations, and your lawyer will review the agreement to make sure the compensation is sufficient. As part of settlement discussions, you may also participate in mediation to try and reach a compromise.
If the insurance company will not agree to a fair amount as damages, you can still sue in court at any point during the claims process. When suing for a truck accident, you will also be dealing with the same insurer. These companies are obligated to defend the truck driver and trucking companies in lawsuits, and you can expect them to fight your case in court just as aggressively during litigation. Insurers also have large budgets and legal departments dedicated to defending lawsuits.
When you hear statistics about truck accidents, there is one important detail that some people tend to overlook. The total numbers on fatalities and injured victims may not reveal it, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that the majority of casualties are occupants of the passenger vehicle. This should come as no surprise when you consider the physics and violence of a truck collision. The differences in size and weight between the vehicles are substantial, and there are additional risks when the truck is hauling hazardous materials.
These factors mean victims suffer serious injuries, meaning they sustain significant losses that deserve compensation. You will need legal help with a truck accident case, so trust a personal injury attorney to assist with the important tasks.
The two main options for resolving a truck crash case are settling with the insurer and suing in court, and you will need a strong strategy for both. Your attorney will help you by advising you on the most appropriate resolution for your case, and you can count on support with putting your strategy into effect. Keep the following points in mind:
With any legal strategy, you need proof to support your claim for damages. For one, you need to show that the truck driver or other party was at fault in the crash by engaging in negligent acts. You must also have evidence to show the losses you suffer because of your injuries. Your truck accident lawyer has access to skilled investigative resources who will obtain:
Once you have your evidence collected and organized, you can begin preparing your demand package. Your attorney will draft a cover letter summarizing your claim, as well as a more specific demand that covers:
Your claim will include a narrative on how the truck accident happened, highlighting the actions by the trucker that were negligent.
In your demand package, you must go into exhaustive detail about your care, including:
For both fault and medical care, you will include all supporting documents as evidence.
It is unlikely that the insurer will immediately pay out on your claim. It will conduct an investigation to confirm your allegations and carefully review the evidence you provided. Then, the company will make a counteroffer for your consideration. Your truck crash attorney will assess the offer and advise you on the details, so you can make an informed decision about whether to agree. You have confidence knowing that you did not leave money on the table by accepting an amount that is insufficient to cover your losses.
Mediation may also be part of your settlement discussions, and the parties will attend a session before a trained mediator. This person aims to get the parties closer on agreement.
If settlement is not possible and mediation does not resolve your dispute, your truck accident lawyer will discuss moving forward with a lawsuit. You will need guidance with the process, which includes:
At trial, your attorney will develop solid opening and closing arguments to support your position. You have the burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant is liable for your losses. The jury will render a decision, as well as determine an amount to award as damages.
The stakes are high for the insurance company in a truck crash case, so it will take advantage of all potential defenses that could avoid liability. You must anticipate the insurer’s strategy and be prepared to counter it with your own evidence and arguments. Many of the defenses used by insurance companies carry little weight, such as allegations that you were not hurt badly or the trucker was not at fault.
However, there are some defenses that are legitimate. They could have an impact on your rights or on the compensation you might recover. These are issues that impact settlement discussions, as well as serving as defenses in the courtroom.
Every US state has a deadline for filing a lawsuit in court based upon personal injury, including truck collision cases. The statute of limitations recently changed, from four years to two. You have two years to initiate litigation in court, as measured from the date of the truck accident. A lawsuit seeking damages for injuries to a child must be filed by the victim’s eighth birthday.
If the truck crash was caused by defective truck parts, you may have additional time to file even after the statute of limitations expires. Florida has a statute of repose, but it applies in very specific circumstances.
Under the Florida comparative negligence statute, your actions could either lead to a defense for the truck insurance company or grounds to reduce your compensation. This is another law that recently changed, and it is not in favor of victims unfortunately. The statute states that you cannot recover any monetary damages if you were more than 50 percent at fault in causing the crash. When you were at fault but your actions were less than 50 percent in contributing to the accident, your compensation is reduced. For instance, an award of $100,000 goes to $80,000 if you were 20 percent responsible.
Florida is no-fault for purposes of traffic accidents, and the laws require motorists to first seek compensation from their own insurer. One of the requirements established by the no-fault system is that every motorist must obtain Personal Injury Protection insurance (PIP). When you file a claim with the trucker’s insurance company, it may try to defend on the grounds that your losses are covered by insurance.
A basic rule about the no-fault system is that you can seek compensation when you suffer severe disability, disfigurement, effects on organs and bodily systems, and other serious injuries. This defense is not usually effective because your truck accident injuries will most definitely be severe.
An insurer may also counter your claim by alleging that you have not met the requirements of a negligence-based case. Recall that you must prove that the truck accident was a direct result of the truck driver’s failure to operate the rig safely. The defendant will try to discredit your proof and contest the credibility of your evidence. You must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence, which is essentially a 50-50 standard. Your burden is to present proof that facts are more likely than less likely to be true, leaving the matter for the jury to decide.
When you suffered an injury in the past, the insurance company will seize on all opportunities to prove that your current losses are a result of the pre-existing condition. The truck accident was not the incident that caused your injuries. However, this defense is typically easy to overcome with the right tactics by your truck collision lawyer. The goal is to present proof of your physical condition immediately before the accident, and how the crash exacerbated prior trauma.
There may be multiple potential parties in a truck crash case, and they could have defenses that pertain to each other. They are usually trying to throw blame on other defendants, and they will probably not affect your claim.
As we reach the final chapter of this comprehensive Truck Accident E-guide, we hope that you have found the information provided here valuable and informative. We have covered a wide range of topics related to truck accidents, personal injury claims, and the legal aspects involved in seeking justice and compensation for your injuries. At Rosen Injury, we understand that the aftermath of a truck accident can be overwhelming and confusing. Our goal with this guide was to empower you with knowledge and insights to make informed decisions during this challenging time.
Throughout the previous chapters, we have explored:
Understanding how truck accidents differ from car accidents and recognizing the common causes that lead to them.
Learning how to establish negligence in a truck accident case, is a crucial element in pursuing a successful claim.
Discovering what steps you should take immediately after a truck accident to protect your rights and well-being.
Being aware of the time constraints when it comes to filing a personal injury claim for a truck accident.
Understanding the complex process of identifying who is liable for your injuries in a truck accident.
Exploring the most common injuries sustained in truck accidents and their potential long-term consequences.
Gaining insights into how trucking regulations and laws can impact your accident claim.
Learning about your options for recovering damages even if you share some responsibility for the accident.
Understanding the types of compensation you can seek to cover your injuries and losses.
Navigating the challenges of interacting with insurance companies and their tactics.
Discovering how an experienced attorney can be an invaluable asset in your truck accident case.
Exploring potential defenses that may be raised by the opposing party in a personal injury lawsuit.
We hope that this guide has provided you with clarity and guidance in your journey to seek justice and recover damages after a truck accident. Remember, you do not have to face this ordeal alone. The team at Rosen Injury is here to assist you every step of the way, offering expert legal counsel, support, and advocacy tailored to your unique circumstances.
Truck accidents can have devastating consequences, and we believe that every victim deserves the opportunity to rebuild their life, receive fair compensation, and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. If you have any further questions or require personalized assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Your well-being is our priority, and we are committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcome for your truck accident case.
Thank you for entrusting us with your time and for considering Rosen Injury as your legal advocate. We wish you strength, healing, and a successful resolution to your truck accident claim.
Your consultation with an attorney member of Rosen Injury Law is FREE! You can connect to a representative by calling 954-451-0532 or filling out the contact form below.
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