Truck accidents are often complex. Besides involving multiple parties, these cases sometimes require you to decide when to seek compensation through your no-fault coverage and when to go after other parties. Here's what you need to know about the compensation process for Florida truck accident settlements.
Understanding Florida’s Trucking Laws
Specific state laws apply to truck accidents.
Florida's No-Fault Insurance System
Under Florida law, drivers must carry at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection coverage. Regardless of who is at fault, this no-fault coverage will kick in and cover a portion of medical bills and property damage.
You can also seek compensation from the responsible party if your PIP coverage isn't enough. With disabling injuries costing more than $150,000 on average, running out of PIP coverage is a common issue.
Key Differences Between Car and Truck Accidents
In 2021, large trucks accounted for 9% of fatal crashes in Florida, a percentage that has been increasing.
There are specific rules that apply to these accidents:
- Drivers must follow the Florida Hours of Service rule to prevent drowsiness. They also need to use an updated electronic logging device to track their driving activities.
- Under U.S. law, 49 CFR Part 396, trucking companies have to follow strict standards for repairs and maintenance.
- U.S. law 49 CFR Part 571 outlines detailed safety standards for commercial vehicles.
The question of liability will arise if you seek compensation via tort law or if your PIP coverage runs out. Trucking accidents can be complex and involve more than one liable party.
- A driver can be responsible if they endanger others or act outside of the scope of their job.
- The trucking company can be liable if it doesn't maintain its vehicles or fails to create a safe working environment.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has strict rules for loading and securing cargo. The business that contracted the trucking company will often load the cargo and become responsible if poorly secured cargo results in unsafe conditions.
- If an automaker sells a commercial truck with a defect that causes harm, the strict liability rule will apply.
Influence of Florida’s Comparative Fault Rule
In 2022, distracted driving was a factor in over 53,000 traffic crashes. It's an example of a behavior that can make you partially liable for an accident.
If you're seeking compensation outside of your own PIP coverage, Florida's new comparative fault rule introduced under House Bill 837 will apply. If a judge or insurance adjuster determines that you're more than 50% responsible for the accident, you won't qualify for compensation from a third party, but your PIP coverage will still apply.
Steps to Take Immediately After an Accident
Accidents can be stressful and traumatic, but there are a few steps you should take right away:
- Seek medical attention for yourself and others. Call 911 if needed.
- Don't leave the scene of the accident.
- Report the accident to local law enforcement if it involves an injury, death, or more than $500 in damages.
- Document everything. Take pictures and write down key details.
- Exchange contact information with the other drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
- Reach out to your insurer to file a PIP claim.
Unless you buy additional coverage, your PIP policy will cover the following damages:
- 80% of your medical bills, with a limit of $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident.
- 60% of lost wages up to $10,000.
- $10,000 in property damages.
If you meet the serious injury threshold, tort law will apply, and you will have the option to seek compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lifestyle modifications, and more.
The Settlement Negotiation Process
A majority of Florida car accident cases settle out of court. You'll usually receive compensation from your insurer and might get an initial offer if a party is liable for a serious injury.
A legal representative can help you navigate this process. They can assess damage with accuracy and even prove the damage exists. They can also negotiate with your PIP provider if your claim is denied or adjusted.
If you're seeking compensation under tort law, your lawyer will play a crucial role in negotiating with the responsible parties and obtaining a fair settlement.
Deciding on Legal Representation
An experienced Florida truck accident lawyer will possess advanced knowledge of liability and tort laws. They will also know how to negotiate with the different parties involved.
Having a lawyer by your side can make this process less stressful and help you obtain fair compensation.
Find a Florida Truck Accident Lawyer
If you’re in a truck accident, it's important to know your rights and explore your options. Seeking legal representation should also be a priority. The right lawyer can help you navigate the complex world of Florida truck accident settlements.
Get started today by visiting Accident.com to find a lawyer near you.