When a truck accident occurs – and these kinds of accidents take place far too often – injury victims find themselves in a complex legal situation. There are a lot of laws that will have a substantial impact on not only your ability to obtain compensation, but also on the amount of compensation you may eventually receive.
At The Jones Law Group, our attorneys have years of experience working for people who have suffered injuries due to the negligence of a truck driver, as well as any other potentially liable parties that contributed to the accident. We can put that experience to work for you, helping you get the money you deserve. If you would like to learn more, please schedule a free consultation as soon as you can by contacting us online or calling (727) 571-1333.
The following is a brief look at just a few of the Florida laws that will largely determine the eventual outcome of your case.
No-Fault and Comparative Fault Laws
Florida is different from a lot of states in that it’s a no-fault state when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. Regardless of the cause of the crash, or who was to blame, injury victims can file claims with their insurance providers in order to get money to help pay for accident-related expenses, such as medical bills.
The problem is that most insurance policies will only pay up to a certain amount. PIP (personal injury protection) coverage will typically only cover 80 percent of medical bills. It will also pay for some of your lost wages, although the amount is typically nominal at best.
When a truck accident takes place, the injuries that result are typically much more severe than those that occur after the typical car accident. The expenses associated with those injuries are usually far higher than what an average insurance policy will cover. That’s why Florida law also allows people who are seriously injured to take action against at-fault drivers through lawsuits.
In order to be able to do this, you have to meet what is known as a “permanent injury” threshold. This means you must have:
- proven, within a certain degree of medical probability, that your injury is permanent.
- suffered substantial, permanent disfigurement or scarring due to the accident.
- suffered a substantial, permanent loss of a vital bodily function.
If you meet any of these requirements, you’ll then have to provide proof that the defendant’s negligence resulted in your injury.
However, there’s another part of Florida law that you’ll need to keep in mind. This is the so-called “comparative fault principle.” This states that your compensation could be reduced if an investigation finds that you played any sort of role in causing the accident.
Negligence Laws on Liability
To obtain compensation, you’ll need to prove that the truck driver was to blame for the accident. In other words, you’ll have to prove the driver is liable for the damages you’ve incurred (medical bills, lost wages, etc.).
There are a lot of ways a truck driver can be negligent and cause an accident. Truck drivers can be impaired when behind the wheel, due to drug or alcohol use. They can run red lights or make sudden lane changes without using their lights.
One of the reasons you’ll need to hire an attorney as soon as possible will be to gather the evidence it takes to prove your case. Your attorney can begin a thorough investigation into the accident, and find proof that the truck driver was to blame.
While most truck accidents occur due to driver negligence, there are other factors that could play a role. For example, the company responsible for loading the truck could have been negligent. This could have caused it to roll over due to an imbalanced load. The trucking company may have failed to maintain the truck. And that could result in a malfunction that caused the driver to lose control.
If you can prove that other parties were to blame, you may be able to take action against them. This may increase your compensation in the process.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is one of the most important laws as it pertains to your case. It sets a time limit for how long you have to take legal action. The Florida statute of limitations is four years from the date the accident occurred. If you don’t file a lawsuit within this period of time, you won’t be able to obtain compensation for the damages you’ve incurred.
Both truckers and trucking companies are required to follow stringent regulations. These regulations come from not only the federal government, but the state as well. For example, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration) establishes the number of hours that truckers can stay behind the wheel without taking time off. All operators of commercial vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or more have to follow these rules.
Florida also has laws that truck drivers and trucking companies must follow. The Office of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, part of the Florida Highway Patrol, enforces these laws. One example is that trucks in Florida can’t be higher than 13 feet, 6 inches. If a truck is transporting automobiles, it can’t be any higher than 14 feet.
Unfortunately, truck drivers and trucking companies routinely violate these laws. There are far too many instances where truckers are behind the wheel much longer than the law allows. They may then become too fatigued to operate their vehicles safely. In many instances, this leads to devastating accidents. When violations occur, that can provide the proof you need to win your case.
Speak to An Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Today
There are a lot of ways a skilled attorney can help you build the strongest case possible, including launching an investigation into your accident, as well as calling in reconstruction experts to recreate the circumstances that led to the crash.
At The Jones Law Group, we have the skill and the resources it takes to get to the bottom of what happened, collecting the evidence it will take for you to obtain fair compensation. Schedule a free case review by calling (727) 571-1333 or using our online contact form.