In recent months, headlines surrounding commercial truck accidents in Florida have been nothing short of startling. From a truck loaded with a staggering 1 million bees overturning on a busy highway to the harrowing chase for a road rage suspect believed to have caused a devastating crash involving a dump truck and multiple tractor-trailers on I-75, the stories are diverse and alarming.
Further compounding the gravity of these events was the tragic incident of a young 25-year-old Florida woman losing her life when she rear-ended a logging truck, causing logs to penetrate her car’s window.
Though there are many reasons why truck accidents happen, if you’ve experienced such an incident, understanding your legal rights is essential if you’ve been injured or lost a loved one. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the truck driver, the trucking company, or other parties responsible for the accident.
However, truck accident claims can be complex and difficult to win which is why we want you to know your legal rights and essential steps to take after a Florida truck accident. Keep reading to learn more.
Commercial Truck Accidents
A commercial truck accident is a collision between a commercial truck, such as a semi-truck or tractor-trailer, and another vehicle or pedestrian. Commercial truck accidents are often more serious than other types of car accidents due to the size and weight of the truck.
Commercial truck accidents are unfortunately common in Florida. According to 2022 statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 9,824 commercial truck accidents in Florida, resulting in 3,397 injuries and 303 fatalities.
The leading causes of commercial truck accidents include:
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Improper vehicle maintenance
The most common types of injuries suffered in commercial truck accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
Complexities of Truck Accident Claims
Truck accident claims are generally more complex than car accident claims for a number of reasons.
- Multiple parties may be involved. In a car accident, there are typically two drivers involved. However, in a truck accident, there may be multiple parties involved, including the truck driver, the trucking company, the cargo owner, and the manufacturer of the truck or its parts. This can make it more difficult to determine who is liable for the accident and to negotiate a settlement.
- Truck accident injuries are often more severe. Truck accidents are more likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities than car accidents due to the size and weight of trucks. This can lead to higher medical bills and lost wages for the victim.
- Truck accident cases are more heavily regulated. The trucking industry is heavily regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This means that there are a number of laws and regulations that must be followed by truck drivers and trucking companies. If a truck driver or trucking company violates any of these laws or regulations, they may be held liable for the accident.
- Truck accident cases can be more difficult to investigate. Truck accidents can be more difficult to investigate than car accidents because of the complexity of the vehicles involved and the potential for multiple parties to be liable. Additionally, trucking companies often have large legal teams that are experienced in defending truck accident claims.
As a result of these factors, truck accident claims can take longer to resolve and can be more difficult to win. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, reaching out to a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale truck accident lawyer is crucial.
Essential Actions After a Florida Truck Accident
If you’re involved in a truck accident in Florida, safeguarding your rights and interests begins with immediate, appropriate actions:
- Prioritize Safety: Call 911 if there are injuries. Move your vehicle to a safe location, if possible.
- Document the Scene: Exchange contact and insurance information with all involved parties. Take photographs of vehicle damages, injuries, and the overall scene. Gather witness contact details.
- Official Report: Always report the accident to the police to ensure an official record. Even seemingly minor incidents can have legal implications later on.
- Contact Insurance: Inform your insurance company about the accident and initiate the claims process.
- In Florida, you’re legally obliged to offer reasonable assistance if someone is injured in an accident. This includes notifying emergency services and staying at the scene.
- Departing an accident scene without offering help can lead to felony charges.
- Florida law requires that any accident involving a commercial truck must be reported to authorities, irrespective of the presence or absence of injuries.
Florida’s Comparative Negligence Changes
With Governor Ron DeSantis enacting HB 837 on March 24, 2023, Florida’s approach to shared fault in personal injury claims underwent a significant transformation.
- What Changed?: Previously, Florida employed a different system. Now, with the comparative negligence system, if you bear more than 50% of the blame for the accident, you won’t qualify for compensation.
- Impact on Compensation: If your fault is determined to be 50% or less, you can still claim damages. However, your compensation will reduce proportionally to your fault percentage.
It’s crucial to consult a Plantation personal injury lawyer who has experience in truck accident cases to guide you on how to file a claim, what to expect, and the types of damages you can claim, such as the following:
- Economic Damages: These are quantifiable losses, encompassing medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other tangible expenses stemming from the accident.
- Non-Economic Damages: More intangible, these cover emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other similar non-monetary adversities.
Trucking Companies and Insurers
While you’re seeking rightful compensation, remember that trucking companies and their insurers have their interests to protect.
- Early Offers: They might approach you with settlement offers, often lower than what you deserve. While it might be tempting to accept and avoid prolonged legal battles, you might be short-changing yourself.
- Legal Assistance: It’s essential to consult with a Plantation personal injury lawyer familiar with Florida’s truck accident claims. They can guide you, ensuring you’re adequately represented and compensated.
Statute of Limitations in Florida
Time is ticking post-accident. Florida has a statute of limitations that restricts the time window during which you can file a negligence lawsuit. And thanks to changes in the law earlier this year, as of March 2023, you no longer have four years after the accident to file your claim.
From the accident date, you now have two years to initiate a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, their employer, and/or their insurance companies. While it might sound ample, building a robust case often requires time. Don’t procrastinate or your claim will be permanently barred.
- Claim Compensation: You may file a lawsuit against the truck driver, the trucking company, or other parties responsible.
- Involve Multiple Parties: Truck accidents might involve several parties, from drivers to manufacturers.
- Adhere to Regulations: Truckers and trucking companies must follow strict FMCSA regulations. Violations can influence claims.
- Time Limitations: As of March 2023, you have two years from the accident date to initiate a personal injury claim.
- Shared Fault Considerations: With Florida’s new comparative negligence system, your fault percentage can influence compensation.
- Types of Damages: You can claim both economic (quantifiable losses) and non-economic damages (like pain and suffering).
Armed with this knowledge, it’s evident that the aftermath of a truck accident in Florida presents numerous complexities. As attorneys, we understand firsthand how challenging this can be. Being informed and proactive is your strongest asset as you navigate these turbulent waters.
Especially considering Florida’s evolving legal landscape, it’s imperative to seek legal counsel promptly if you’ve been injured in such an accident. Your rights and rightful compensation hinge on it.
Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. We’re here to help and guide you every step of the way.
Seeking Justice After a Florida Truck Accident? Let Cohen and Juda Personally Fight for Your Rights!
Experiencing a commercial truck accident in Florida can be an overwhelming ordeal. The path to healing and justice might seem daunting, but choosing the right Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorneys can make all the difference in that journey. At Cohen and Juda, we aren’t just legal representatives — we’re your staunch allies during these difficult times.
With over three decades of experience, we’re ready to safeguard your rights and work diligently to ensure you obtain the maximum compensation you are entitled to receive. Face this challenge with confidence, knowing you’re backed by seasoned professionals.
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The information in this blog post (post) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.