Driving alongside a massive commercial semi-truck or 18-wheeler is intimidating while operating a passenger vehicle. You quickly realize the massive size difference between the two vehicles and the potential for catastrophic injuries in the event of an accident. Insurance companies, trucking companies, and truck drivers themselves are also aware of this risk, which is why truckers are required to have a commercial driver’s license as well as a number of other certifications depending on the type of vehicle they drive and the type of cargo they haul. In addition to these regulatory requirements, insurance companies typically have policy limits in excess of $1 million of liability coverage for these truck drivers.
Truck accident cases can be complex, and an accident victim may quickly find themself overwhelmed with seemingly endless reams of legal paperwork and confusing statements or offers from the insurance adjuster assigned to the case. A truck accident victim is entitled to a host of damages, each of which is unique to their motor vehicle accident, their resulting injuries, and the impacts that these injuries have (and will continue to have) on their lives. Working with an experienced truck accident lawyer is one of the best ways to ensure that a victim is taking the proper steps to recover fair compensation.
Work With a Proven Truck Accident Attorney To Get The Money You Deserve
The team at Fasig | Brooks has years of experience with truck accident law, and fighting for the money that our clients deserve after a Florida truck accident caused by the truck driver. Truck accidents can lead to serious injuries or death, and victims deserve compensation for all of the damages they have suffered.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are typically focused on settling claims for as little as possible, not on ensuring that victims get a settlement that accurately reflects their damages. They may resort to aggressive tactics to achieve this goal. Insurers believe that they can take advantage of a claimant’s anxieties and stresses about the many effects that Florida truck accidents have on their lives in order to settle quickly and protect themselves and their clients from any further legal action.
When a Florida truck accident lawyer from our award-winning law firm contacts the insurance company to initiate a claim, the company knows from the start that you are prepared to fight for what you rightfully deserve in your truck accident case.
Contact our law firm as soon as possible to request a free consultation about how we can help you work through your Florida truck accident claim. Read more below to get a general sense of some high-level topics relating to large commercial trucks and large truck accidents, but keep in mind that the information below is meant to give you a broad idea of the subject. The best way to learn all about your unique situation is by partnering with a Florida truck accident attorney today.
Who Is Liable After a Truck Accident?
If you have been involved in a trucking accident, your first priority should be your health — especially if you have suffered any serious injuries. Working with a doctor, taking time off from work, and focusing on recovery are the best ways to move forward from such a traumatic and painful experience, but the unfortunate reality is that each of these priorities is costly.
As your medical bills continue to mount, so do the number of missed days at work, lost wages, and responsibilities or obligations that you are unable to meet in both your personal and professional lives — all while dealing with immense pain.
These costs and losses are known as “damages” and are the central issue that must be resolved after a trucking accident case. In order to determine who must pay for these damages, the first question that must be answered is a question of liability, or who is responsible for the financial aspects of your tractor-trailer accident.
Proving Fault After Large Truck Crashes
The first step in determining liability requires making sense of how the accident happened, including whether or not truck driver negligence or recklessness were factors, and if so, who was acting dangerously in the events leading to the semi-truck accident. Some accidents are easy to make sense of, such as a situation where the commercial truck driver readily admits fault, or there is a large body of evidence that clearly shows what happened. In other truck accident lawsuits or claims, the evidence may not be so straightforward, and this step may take time to resolve fully.
Your lawyer will go through all of the available details after your large truck accident in order to prove how the accident happened and who caused it.
Pure Comparative Fault
In Florida, there is a rule known as pure comparative fault that allows for multiple parties in an accident to assume partial fault while still having the right to seek compensation. After semi-truck accidents where a victim may have partially contributed to the accident, this is an extremely important rule because the alternative would be that a victim is blocked from seeking any damages at all if they were partially responsible for the collision.
Fortunately, victims in Florida do not need to worry about being blocked from seeking compensation in the event that they are partially at fault. In situations where pure comparative fault is used, a claimant’s final award is simply reduced proportionately to the percentage of fault they assume. However, insurers may use this law to their advantage by trying to pin additional blame on a victim to reduce their financial losses. The truck accident attorneys at Fasig | Brooks know the tactics that insurers use to avoid paying full damages and will counteract these efforts as they fight to get you the money you rightfully deserve.
Once fault is established, the next step will be to identify the party liable for the damages because truck accident cases may not always fall on the truck driver.
Assigning Liability in Truck Accident Claims
Trucking accidents have a few additional layers of complexity when compared to passenger vehicle crashes. That is because commercial trucking involves many participants that each have specific roles. Therefore, these roles, and consequently the liability, change depending on whether or not a truck driver owns the vehicle, who loaded the trailer, and more.
If a truck driver owns and operates their truck, as opposed to working for a trucking company, then they are responsible for nearly all aspects of their vehicle, including maintenance. If the driver does not own the truck, then the company they work for may be responsible for maintaining the truck. So if the accident were due to a mechanical failure with the truck, liability would likely fall on the party that is responsible for maintenance. This may not always be the case, though, because a driver may be responsible for maintaining safe tire pressure in their vehicle even if the trucking company is responsible for other responsibilities.
The trailer that a semi-truck hauls is often packed and maintained by a third party, meaning that the truck driver simply arrives at a shipping warehouse, attaches the trailer, checks the cargo, and hauls it to the destination. After a Florida truck accident caused by a mechanical failure stemming from the trailer, an improperly balanced load that leads to a rollover, or overloaded trucks that have braking failures, this may again complicate the matter of liability depending on who is responsible for loading the cargo.
Trucking companies will often have explicit contracts with drivers that state the responsibilities assigned to everyone involved, and these contracts can help identify the liable party after truck accidents.
These are just a few hypothetical situations that can further complicate the first steps of your truck accident. That is why it is so important to partner with a Florida truck accident lawyer to establish your case and fight for the compensation you rightfully deserve. Once liability is established, you and your attorney will be able to move forward with calculating the money you deserve after your truck accident.
Calculating Damages After a Trucking Accident
The steps necessary to determine fault and liability can be tedious depending on the specifics of your Florida truck accident. Still, once these details have been established, you will be able to move forward with calculating the actual compensation you are owed for the many damages you have suffered — and may continue to suffer in the future. Your truck accident lawyer will take as much time as necessary to go through and catalog each of these effects and losses before quantifying them and assigning dollar values.
Truck accident law allows a victim to seek compensatory damages from the liable party (or, more likely, their commercial insurance company). These damages are divided into two distinct categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. After a fatal truck accident, surviving family members or financial dependents of the decedent have a legal right to file a claim in order to recover damages through a wrongful death claim.
Economic damages are the backbone of a personal injury case and apply to any repercussion in an accident that has a set and measurable dollar value. The most obvious damages of this type include property damage costs, medical treatment expenses, and a wide range of impacts related to income such as lost wages, a decreased ability to earn a living. Also, paid time off, sick leave, or vacation days a victim needs to use to cover missed time in the early days after a crash.
While economic damages seem like they will be simple to identify, there are countless smaller damages that are typically overlooked — to the benefit of the insurance company. Other damages, such as the cost of services a victim would otherwise be able to perform on their own, or the cost of “minor” things like prescriptions or over the counter painkillers. As you will learn in the following section about non-economic damages, it is essential to identify and include every “insignificant” cost or loss in this section. Failure to include these will also lead to missing out on between 1.5 to 5 times that dollar amount in non-economic damages.
Trucking accidents cause more impacts to a victim than just their medical bills and income loss. There is also the actual pain that their injuries cause, the mental anguish they must endure. Additionally, there is also the temporary or permanent inconvenience that serious injuries such as a spinal cord injury, TBI (traumatic brain injuries), or broken bones pose to a victim’s ability to live a normal life. However, trying to quantify something as subjective as “pain and suffering” is difficult for those unfamiliar with personal injury law, but something that Florida truck accident lawyers have spent years doing for many different clients.
Insurance companies representing a trucking company or commercial truck drivers will be quick to dismiss “amateur” calculations for non-economic damages. They know that the claimant is likely dealing with enormous stress and anxiety about their financial situation, their health, and their claim all at once, and are easily overwhelmed by aggressive tactics. Fortunately, the team at our personal injury law firm will be able to handle this process on your behalf while you focus on getting your life back on track.
Non-economic damages are calculated using a number of methods that Florida truck accident lawyers are experienced with, including calculating a “per diem,” or daily cost that is multiplied by the number of days the victim suffered these damages or a “multiplier method” that uses a scale to indicate the severity of these damages. Once the number — typically on a scale from 1.5 – 5 — has been chosen, this number is then multiplied against the total economic damages.
Your attorney will choose the non-economic damages calculation method that best suits your situation and maximizes the amount of money you are fighting for.
Punitive Damages After Truck Accidents
In certain instances, a victim may be awarded additional punitive damages at the end of a personal injury lawsuit. Punitive damages are awarded by a judge or jury at the end of a trial and are meant to punish particularly egregious conduct. In this case, wanton driver negligence that causes severe injuries or wrongful death in a truck crash may result in these additional damages. They are solely calculated to impose severe punishments, as opposed to compensatory damages, which are meant to repay a victim for measurable losses.
Your attorney will not be able to request punitive damages and will not factor them into any out-of-court settlement negotiations. Suppose your Florida truck accident lawyer believes that your truck crash was caused by seriously reckless or negligent behavior. In that case, they may choose to file a lawsuit with the Florida courts before attempting any meaningful negotiations with insurers.
Fight For Fair Compensation After Your Tractor-Trailer Accident
Contact our law firm as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney. Truck accident cases involving large trucks and passenger vehicles commonly lead to serious injuries. Whether your accident was caused by distracted driving, an intoxicated truck driver, or anything else that was not your fault, we are here to help.
Taking on major trucking companies alone can be overwhelming, even without suffering serious injuries. After being seriously injured or losing a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, it can feel impossible. Our law firm is here to help. With years of experience fighting for fair compensation after truck accidents, we are confident that we can help you get past this difficult situation and look towards the future with confidence.