Commercial trucks are responsible for some of the most serious accidents on the roads of Florida. Due to their size and weight compared to that of passenger vehicles, they can cause extensive damage, serious injuries, and even death.
Following the initial shock of truck accidents, it is normal to think, “who can I sue?” You have probably accumulated significant medical bills, may be unable to work, and have been left traumatized. It is only fair that the responsible party should be held liable for their actions. If you or a loved one have been involved in a serious accident involving a commercial truck, it is important that you consult with a truck accident attorney right away, who can answer this question for you.
We have provided some information here, but to discuss your case in more detail, you can call The Law Place for a free consultation. Our telephone number is (941) 444-4444 and our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Truck Accidents in Florida
Unfortunately, truck accidents are all too common on Florida’s roads. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) estimates that in 2018, there were as many as 225 truck accidents that resulted in serious injuries and 771 that resulted in minor injuries. Sadly, a further 46 people were killed in truck accidents during the same year.
Speak to Your Own Insurance Company First
As most residents of Florida will know, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that you will need to file a claim with your insurance company before you think about filing a personal injury lawsuit.
All registered drivers are required to have $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. No-fault rules are in place to avoid the inevitable hassle, time, and cost of having to establish who is at fault in every road traffic accident. Furthermore, $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) is also required to cover any damage to your property, such as your vehicle.
Your PIP coverage should cover 80 percent of any medical bills that are a direct result of the truck accident, no matter who was at fault. Your insurance coverage will also cover 60 percent of any lost earnings from your job if you have been unable to work as normal and have needed time off to recover from your injuries.
If Your Insurance Company Will Not Cover All of Your Damages
The reality is, a truck accident is likely to cause damages far greater than $10,000, and you could be left out of pocket. Fortunately, a personal injury lawyer can help you to go beyond Floria’s no-fault system if you find yourself in this position. This is referred to as “stepping outside” of no-fault.
According to Florida law, this can only be done if you have suffered a severe injury as a direct result of the truck accident, for example:
- A fractured/broken bone(s).
- Permanent limitated use of an organ or another part of the body.
- A significant limitation of a bodily function.
- An injury that has caused full disability for 90 days or more.
If you have been seriously injured in a truck accident, you will be entitled to file a third-party lawsuit against the at-fault party’s insurance company or to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. A truck accident attorney can fight for compensation on your behalf.
Determining Fault in a Truck Accident Case
Anyone who has been seriously injured or has lost a loved one in a truck accident can sue the at-fault party for damages. However, determining fault is not always simple, and in some cases, it is not the truck drivers who are liable for the truck accident; it could also be a trucking company or a manufacturer.
Liability is determined by establishing negligence. A person is considered negligent when they have failed to adhere to a legal standard of reasonable care and as a result have caused harm to others. In the case of a truck accident, many factors would need to be investigated. For example, say the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, you may automatically assume that they are 100% responsible, but further investigation might find that the driver has been forced to work too many hours with no rest breaks, in this case, the driver’s employer could be partly responsible. Another example is in the case of a truck accident that was caused by faulty breaks; perhaps the company that installed, manufactured, repaired, or inspected the brakes is at fault. In fact, there are a whole host of people who could be sued for your truck accident, including:
- The truck driver.
- The owner of the truck.
- The trucking company.
- The maintenance/repair company.
- The truck loading company.
- The truck part manufacturer.
Any of these parties or the insurance companies of these parties could be sued if they are found liable for your injuries. An experienced personal injury lawyer would be able to investigate your truck accident case thoroughly and secure the compensation that you deserve.
How to Prove Who Is at Fault in a Truck Accident Case
Determining fault in an accident case requires sufficient proof. It can be a very complex and lengthy process. Your truck accident attorney will do the main investigative work, but there are some simple things you can do to help your case:
- Call law enforcement – A police officer should be called to the scene of an accident, especially if someone has been injured. The officer will issue a police report, which will document what occurred, where the accident took place, the time and date, and the people/ vehicles that were involved. They will interview any eye-witnesses, make a note of the weather, the road conditions, and any other important details.
- Take photos – Photographic evidence can be very useful when it comes to accident lawsuits. It is a good idea to use your smartphone to take as many photos as possible of the vehicles involved, the accident scene, and your injuries.
- Make notes – Write down anything that could be helpful at a later date. For example, are there any CCTV cameras that may have captured the incident?
- Take details – Ask the truck drivers involved for their contact details, their license plate number, and their insurance and registration details. If there were any eye-witnesses, ask them for their contact details.
- Seek medical attention – Even if you think that your injuries are minor, you should get checked over by a medical professional. Some injuries don’t appear serious until later on but could cause issues in the long term. Without a medical report, you will struggle to claim compensation for your injuries.
How Will a Truck Accident Attorney Investigate My Case?
An experienced truck accident lawyer is the only person that can investigate your case adequately. They would:
- Search for surveillance camera footage.
- Gain access to the truck driver’s logbooks, which can provide evidence of when the truck driver last stopped and when the truck was last inspected.
- Interview federal accident inspectors.
- Gain access to any emergency department’s records of injuries, which can be used to reconstruct what happened.
- Work with forensic investigators to reconstruct the accident. They will look at evidence such as skid marks, damaged or broken road barriers, and damage to vegetation, such as roadside trees.
Call us for a free consultation, and we will explain what we can do to win your truck accident case.
What Damages Can I Claim Following a Truck Accident?
If you have been injured in a truck accident, a personal injury attorney can sue for the following on your behalf:
Economic damages are those that can be calculated in monetary terms, such as:
- Medical bills including doctor’s bills, hospital bills, surgery bills, and prescriptions.
- Expected future medical expenses, such as physical therapy.
- Lost wages.
- Future loss of wages.
Non-economic damages cannot be calculated in the same way economic damages can. For example, if a victim has experienced severe emotional trauma, their pain and suffering will be difficult to put a price on, but they deserve to be compensated all the same. Pain and suffering damages will not be covered under no-fault, so a victim will need to sue. These damages will usually be calculated by multiplying economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, by the ‘amount’ of suffering the victim has endured on a scale from 1-5.
Call The Law Place Today for a Free Case Evaluation
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident in Florida, a truck accident lawyer from The Law Place can help. Using our combined knowledge and experience, we have helped countless victims secure the compensation that they deserve. For more information, call us today for a free case evaluation. Our telephone number is (941) 444-4444 and our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.