How to Claim Compensation After a Commercial Vehicle Accident In Florida

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According to FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) data from 2020, there are nearly 10 million private and commercial trucks on Florida’s roads. The state’s economy relies on these and other commercial vehicles to thrive.

This is why you see semis carrying goods across state lines and delivery vans navigating busy city streets.

Unfortunately, as much as these vehicles do for the Florida (and U.S.) economy, they also have the potential to harm and destroy lives. A massive total of 523.796 truck accidents happened in the U.S. in 2021.

In 2022, Florida had the unwelcome distinction of being the state with the third-most truck accidents in the country. The aftermath of these accidents meant horrific injuries and death for victims.  

Do these victims have recourse? That is only if they claim compensation for injuries. If you sustain an injury in a collision with a commercial vehicle, there is recourse for you as well. However, you must first understand how Florida’s insurance system works and what your options are when claiming compensation for injuries.

What Does Florida’s No-Fault System Mean for Commercial Vehicle Accidents?

Florida’s no-fault system means you must file a claim with your own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. The claim will cover medical expenses stemming from the accident and lost income.

However, your insurance provider will only pay you up to your policy limits. Your insurance coverage will likely fall under Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which is mandatory for all Florida drivers.

PIP has limitations beyond your personal cover limits. If you sustain serious injuries, you will quickly reach or exceed your policy limits. And PIP does not cover anything other than economic damages. This means that you will not receive compensation for pain and suffering. You must file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party to claim compensation for these non-economic damages.

Determining Fault in a Commercial Vehicle Accident

The blame can shift to several other parties if you are not at fault for a commercial vehicle accident. For example, the driver of the truck may have been speeding. Perhaps they have been distracted or fatigued. Unfortunately, driving under the influence is also a reason for truck accidents in Florida.

Moreover, the trucking company can also be liable if it does not maintain its trucks. Also, if the company pressures drivers to keep driving while tired, it can be blamed for the accident.

If the accident happened because of cargo that fell from a truck, the person who loaded the cargo can be held liable. However, you must be able to prove that this person loaded the cargo incorrectly or carelessly. Lastly, if the vehicle malfunctions due to a defective part, the manufacturer could be liable for damages.

Determining fault includes eyewitness accounts and the version of events given by yourself and the other driver. The police would have taken a statement from you, the truck driver, and the witnesses before filing an official police report.

Police officers will also determine whether anyone violated traffic laws, contributing to the accident. Their report will include citations when necessary.

However, a police report is not the last word in determining fault. While citations may help establish carelessness, these reports cannot definitively assign blame.

What to Do After a Commercial Vehicle Accident

The correct steps to take after a commercial vehicle accident include the following.

  • Getting medical treatment: You must get checked by a doctor after being involved in a commercial vehicle accident. Even if you believe your injuries are minor, you should still get a thorough medical evaluation. This will help prevent future health issues and strengthen your legal case, too. Just remember to keep the proof of all payments made to doctors and for prescription medications. 
  • Securing the scene: You should only attempt to secure the scene if it is safe. If not, wait for the police, and let them handle it. While waiting for them to arrive, take photos or videos of the damage to vehicles and any injuries you can see. 
  • Gathering crucial information: You must get the truck driver’s contact details, their full name, employer’s name, and insurance company details. If the driver is reluctant to give you this information, take photos of the truck’s license plate and company logo. You can also get the names and contact details of any bystanders if they saw the accident happen. 
  • Contacting your insurance provider: You must inform your insurance company about the accident. Tell them the basics of what happened, but do not make statements that can be misconstrued as admitting fault.
  • Hiring a lawyer: It is important to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you when filing a compensation case. Ensure that you find an experienced lawyer who knows everything there is to know about the no-fault system and commercial vehicle regulations.

Building Your Legal Case

Your lawyer will investigate the accident using the information you have gathered. This includes the police report, medical records, eyewitness testimonies, proof of expenses, and manifestations of pain and suffering.

Depending on the injuries and losses you sustain, your lawyer will advise you to claim for either medical expenses, lost wages, or property damage. They will also negotiate a settlement with the relevant insurance companies on your behalf.

If you and your lawyer do not accept the settlement offer from the insurance provider, you can file a lawsuit and take your case to trial. According to Florida’s statute of limitations, you have four years to file a lawsuit after an accident.

Also, keep in mind that Florida also enforces the comparative negligence law. If you are partly to blame for the accident, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Persevere to Win Your Legal Fight

Commercial vehicle accidents are terrifying and traumatic. The ensuing legal process can be complex and discouraging. However, with your lawyer by your side, your legal case is a fight you can win. When you do, you can finally carry on with your life.