If you got hurt in a truck accident in Florida, you need to know the laws that control these situations. If you do not follow the Florida truck accident laws, it could diminish the value of your injury compensation claim and could even land you in jail.
Florida Law Requires That You Report Truck Accidents
If no law enforcement officer came to the scene of the accident, every driver involved in the collision must submit a written report within 10 days, using the document form the Department of Motor Vehicles requires. If an officer came to the scene, the officer has 10 days after completing the investigation to file the official report.
Accident reports are essential in injury compensation claims. We use them to establish the cause of the accident, the severity of the accident as measured by things like the extent of damage to the vehicles, and the injuries that were noticeable at the time. The report is one piece of evidence that can link your injuries to the wreck.
How Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law Works
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, so the general rule is that your vehicle insurance pays for your losses, even if you did not cause the accident. You must carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
PIP will pay up to 80 percent of your medical, surgical, x-ray, dental, and rehabilitative services if they are reasonable and medically necessary. You must have your first medical services within 14 days of the accident, whether this initial care is from a doctor, urgent care center, or emergency room. PIP will not pay any of your medical bills if you miss the 14-day deadline.
PIP can also pay some of your lost wages. PIP will pay no more than a total of $10,000 for your medical expenses, lost wages, and disability altogether. A nominal death benefit of $5,000 is also part of PIP coverage.
How to Go After Damages That Exceed PIP Coverage
The PIP policy limits of $10,000 for medical expenses, lost wages, and disability combined can be grossly inadequate in many truck accident cases. To help people in this situation, Florida law allows you to file a lawsuit for personal injuries against the at-fault driver if you meet the “permanent injury threshold.” To satisfy this threshold, your case must include at least one of these requirements:
- An injury that you can prove, within a reasonable degree of medical probability, is likely to be permanent.
- Permanent and significant scarring and disfigurement.
- Permanent and significant loss of an important bodily function.
Once you meet the requirements of the permanent injury threshold, you then have to prove that the defendant is legally liable for your losses.
How to Prove Liability for Truck Accidents in Florida
If someone’s carelessness caused the accident, we can file a lawsuit under the legal theory of negligence. We have to prove all four of these factors for liability in negligence:
- Duty of care. The defendant driver must have owed you a duty of care. Everyone who operates a motor vehicle on the roadways has a legal duty to drive safely and cautiously.
- Breach of the duty of care. It is negligence when someone fails to live up to the standard of the applicable legal duty of care. Let’s say that a tractor-trailer carried a load of cargo that significantly exceeded the weight allowed by law. The heavier a truck is, the longer it can take for the vehicle to come to a stop. It is negligent for the truck driver to transport an overweight load of cargo.
- The negligence must be the thing that caused the accident and your injuries. Because of the illegally heavy load of cargo, the truck driver could not come to a stop when he approached an area of road construction. The vehicle slammed into your car, which was stopped due to the highway work. The negligent overload caused the accident.
- Measurable damages. Physical injuries satisfy the fourth prong of liability under the theory of negligence. If you sustained physical injuries in the collision, the negligent truck driver will be liable for your losses.
How Truck Accidents Are Different from Standard Car Accidents
Even though cars and trucks are both motor vehicles, there are essential differences that can affect maneuverability and liability. For example:
- Large trucks need more time to stop because they are heavier and larger than passenger cars.
- Because of their dimensions and proportions, tractor-trailers are prone to flip over or fishtail.
- Commercial trucks usually have to carry higher amounts of liability insurance than passenger cars.
- Federal laws can apply to the commercial trucking industry, and violations of these laws can impact the trucking company’s liability.
- There is often the possibility of more than one defendant in a truck accident, including the truck driver, trucking company, cargo loader if incorrectly loaded cargo caused the wreck, and manufacturer if defective brakes, tires, or other equipment caused the accident.
At the Montero Law Center, our experience in handling truck accident cases is valuable for investigating and evaluating the liability and insurance components of these legal matters.
The Deadlines for Filing a Lawsuit for a Florida Truck Accident
Every state set deadlines for the amount of time you have to file any lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, you will not be able to bring a lawsuit to collect compensation for your damages.
The legal theory you are using for your lawsuit will determine how much time you have to file the case. For example:
- You usually have four years to sue someone whose negligence caused the truck accident.
- You also have four years to file a lawsuit against the company whose defective or dangerous product caused the wreck.
- On the other hand, there is no time limit for filing a wrongful death action against a defendant whose intentional act when operating a motor vehicle caused the death of another person. Road rage is an example of an intentional act.
- Sometimes the law will extend the deadlines, such as when the injured person was a child or someone suffering from mental incapacity.
We help people who get injured at the hands of others. You can call the Montero Law Center today at 954-767-6500 for a free consultation.