Determining Fault in a Florida Truck Accident Case
Any accident between two vehicles is potentially dangerous and expensive. When one of those vehicles is a fully loaded commercial truck, it might weigh up to 80,000 pounds and be traveling at a high speed. If that truck strikes a smaller car, the injuries, property damage, and legal action that result can escalate to a completely different level.
The significant differences between cars and commercial trucks include:
- Stopping distance
- Center of gravity
- Braking systems
- Blind spots
If you’ve been injured in a Florida truck accident, these differences could mean severe injuries and complex challenges for you when it comes to determining fault.
Proving Negligence Following A Florida Truck Accident
To determine fault in a Florida truck accident, you have to prove negligence, which is a failure to act reasonably and carefully. The legal definition of negligence includes four elements:
The responsible party was legally obligated to act with reasonable care.
Breach of duty.
The party breached that duty by not acting with reasonable care.
That breach of duty caused you to be injured.
You suffered losses due to your injuries.
While a car accident victim must normally prove only that the driver of the other car was negligent, your truck accident might have been caused by the negligence of a number of parties. This means responsibility for your damages could be spread among several different defendants:
- The truck driver
- The truck owner
- The trucking company
- A truck rental company
- Cargo loading personnel
- The truck manufacturer
- A parts manufacturer
- A third-party truck repair service
You might have to file claims against more than one of these defendants and deal with all their different insurance carriers. If you bring a claim against the wrong party, it will be dismissed and you could lose the chance to get compensation for your damages.
The sooner you identify the liable parties and file claims against them, the more likely your claims are to succeed, so you shouldn’t wait. Important evidence could be lost or destroyed during the delay. When you’re under medical care and recovering from injuries, you definitely require the services of a truck accident attorney to identify liable negligent parties and start the investigation of your accident right away.
Investigation and Evidence
A truck accident is usually investigated not only by local law enforcement but also by the trucking company involved and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) might also get involved.
If any of their investigations yield conflicting or incorrect conclusions, your attorney can engage a private accident investigator to find out who is truly at fault in your accident. Evidence that your lawyer will collect includes:
- Official accident reports
- Witness statements
- Medical records
- Medical bills and receipts
- Wage and earning statements
- Expert witness testimony
- Photos or videos of the accident scene, your injuries, and property damages
- Your daily journal of treatment, recovery, and pain and suffering
Other evidence necessary to prove your claim might be in the possession of the trucking company:
- The truck and its maintenance records
- The driver’s personnel file with driving record and drug/alcohol test results
- The driver’s logbook with records of hours at the wheel
- The truck’s electronic data recorder (black box) and in-cab camera
Access to this evidence is vital because trucking companies and their drivers are held to a higher safety standard than other drivers are. Any failure to meet that standard is negligence.
Since the trucking company is permitted to destroy this evidence after a certain period of time, it’s important that you retain an attorney as soon as possible to investigate and collect all crucial evidence while it still exists. In some cases, a court order might be necessary.
Because Florida has a comparative fault statute, you might be found partially responsible for your own accident. If you are, your compensation could be reduced according to the percentage of fault you bear. Having an experienced lawyer to represent you and present your evidence to the insurance company or to the court if you should go to trial can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.
Have You Been Hurt in a Florida Truck Crash?
To determine fault and get fair compensation, consult an experienced truck accident attorney. Please contact us online, start a chat, or call our Coral Springs office at 954-755-7803 to schedule a free consultation.