What to Do After a Truck Accident Involving Injuries
Truck accidents happen all too often in Florida. Trucks are enormous death traps, holding truck drivers to a higher safety standard than other drivers. If a trucker causes your accident, you may face extremely serious, life-threatening injuries. Fortunately, Florida laws provide you the right to compensation from the truck driver, their company, and others who caused your injuries, damages, or losses.
Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
Large trucks can cause some of the worst collisions on the road. These vehicles require extra time to slow down and stop, compared to smaller cars. In bad weather, trucks require even longer stopping distances. As such, individuals in cars and SUVs tend to suffer the dire consequences of multiple-vehicle collisions involving trucks.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration identified several common factors that lead to collisions involving large trucks. Those factors include:
- Prescription drug use
- Over the counter drug use
- Unfamiliarity with the road
- Traveling too fast for road conditions
- Road problems
- Interruptions in traffic flow
- Brake problems
- Lack of proper surveillance
How Many Hours Can a Trucker Drive?
Commercial truck drivers travel for long hours. Federal regulations allow truck drivers traveling interstate to operate their vehicles for up to 11 hours each day. Florida's regulations allow for 12 hours on the road.
Violations of these truck regulations can pose a serious danger to others on the road. Studies suggest that drivers become fatigued and experience a higher risk of being involved in a crash after just 8 hours on the road. The hours that truckers are allowed to drive in a day are already potentially risky. So, truck drivers who violate driving regulations can put other drivers in life-threatening situations.
Moreover, trucking companies must follow the rules regarding the maintenance of their trucks. After crashes, inspectors often find that trucks involved in accidents had poorly maintained brakes, bad steering columns, or other flaws. When a truck driver or truck company fails to properly maintain a commercial vehicle, the risk of crashes understandably increases.
Proving Negligence in Your Florida Truck Accident Claim
To be successful in your negligence claim, you must prove that the truck driver failed to operate their vehicle as would a reasonably prudent trucker, which caused you to suffer injuries and damages.
Some unsafe driving behaviors that could prove negligence include:
- Drinking and driving
- Texting while driving
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Failing to yield
- Violating traffic signals
Truck crashes may involve other forms of negligence as well. For example, a truck driver who violates the hours-of-service regulations could indicate that they neglected to use proper caution. Truck drivers might also create risks by failing to load their trailers properly. Unstable loads may lead to debris falling onto the road and injuring other motorists.
Further, truckers must have proper licenses for a good reason. Driving these large vehicles is not the same as operating a passenger car. Truck drivers who stop short, speed, or maneuver their vehicles erratically can cause rollovers and jackknife collisions.
Evidence of a trucker’s irresponsible driving and violation of commercial trucking regulations help build a negligence case against a truck driver.
Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident?
Proving negligence in truck collisions involving passenger vehicles can be complicated. Sometimes, more than one motorist does something that leads to a wreck. A truck driver might carelessly change lanes into the path of another car, but that other car may be speeding. As such, fault may lie with both drivers. If the person in the car suffers injuries, then the trucker may seek to hold them liable for their own injuries.
Fortunately, injured victims (plaintiffs) in Florida may recover damages even when they are partly at fault for their injuries. Courts will assign a share of liability to each person whose actions contributed to the crash, so the injured victim might recover a lower amount of damages to reflect their share of fault.
For instance, if the court finds the truck driver to be 60% at fault and the injured driver to be 40% at fault, then the victim can recover 60% of the total damages. So, if the damages amount to $100,000, the plaintiff could collect $60,000.
As a pure comparative negligence state, Florida plaintiffs may collect a percentage of damages even if they are more at fault than the other driver. Many other states block a plaintiff from recovering damages if they are 50% or 51% liable, unlike Florida. If a plaintiff is 90% at fault in Florida, they can collect 10% of the damages.
Available Damages in Truck Crash Cases
Damages available in truck accident lawsuits include economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages cover medical expenses, lost wages, future lost wages or medical expenses, and property damage. Non-economic damages compensate victims for their pain and suffering, emotional distress, and negative impacts on their quality of life. Spouses and children can also recover from certain losses caused by the victim's injuries.
Punitive damages, which penalize particularly egregious behavior, might be available in some cases involving intentional conduct or gross negligence.
Statute of Limitations for Truck Accidents in Florida
Florida’s statute of limitations prevents injury victims from filing claims more than 4 years after the date of an accident. With this in mind, speak to an attorney right away to provide them the best possible opportunity to develop a strategy and negotiate a worthwhile settlement on your behalf.
Injured in a Truck Accident in Florida?
If you got injured in a truck accident caused by a bad truck driver in Florida, then you can potentially sue them, their employer, and others who are at fault. Since truck accident cases are far from simple, you need a dedicated truck accident lawyer who has what it takes to hold the defendant accountable and fight for maximum compensation n your case.
Our skilled personal injury attorneys at The Watson Firm, PLLC are devoted to helping Florida truck accident victims get compensation from those who harmed them. Get in touch with us by calling 850-607-2929 or reaching out online for a free consultation.