These incidents are hardly ever “accidental” in the ordinary sense of the word. For the most part, these crashes are not unavoidable and inevitable incidents. Rather, they are caused by drowsiness, speed, or some other driver carelessness. However, these incidents are accidental in the sense that they are unintentional. So, Florida’s negligence law applies.
Damages in Florida large truck crash cases typically include compensation for tangible losses, such as medical bills, and intangible losses, such as pain and suffering. Due to the often catastrophic nature of these damages, many individual tortfeasors (negligent driver) lack the insurance coverage to fairly compensate victim/plaintiffs. Fortunately, third party liability nearly always applies in these cases.
Large Truck Crash Injuries in Florida
Fully-loaded large trucks often weigh at least 80,000 pounds. Moreover, regulators often give waivers to even larger trucks. As a result, freeway-speed collisions often feature catastrophic injuries like:
- Head Injuries: A person can scramble and egg simply by shaking it. Similarly, the forces in a large-truck collision can scramble the brain without even cracking the skull. These injuries are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat.
- Serious Burns: Diesel fuel combusts at a different temperature from ordinary gasoline. Diesel fuel also has a higher energy mass. So, Florida crash victims often sustain serious third and fourth-degree burns. These wounds always require skin grafts and almost always cause permanent disfigurement.
- Broken Bones: Most physical therapists can help victims regain mobility after a routine fracture. But the broken bones in large truck collisions are a different matter. Because of the metal pins or screws used during surgery, it’s even more difficult to regain mobility.
A Florida personal injury attorney can connect large truck crash victims with the medical help they need in order to fully recover. Typically, these professionals charge no money upfront for their services.
Liability in Florida Large Truck Crashes
Fatigue and excessive speed cause many of these crashes. Recent technological advances have made liability easier to establish in both these areas.
The Electronic Logging Device grace period ended on April 1, 2018. The government is using aerial drones to enforce the rule (the so-called “Pigs in Space” program). ELDs contain data about the Florida truck driver’s hours of service. Even a slight deviation is evidence of negligence in a civil case.
Moreover, most large trucks contain Event Data Recorders. These gadgets keep track of steering angle, acceleration rate, vehicle speed, deceleration rate, and other key numbers. Most passenger vehicles have EDRs as well.
So, if the tortfeasor was drowsy or speeding, an attorney has concrete evidence. To preserve this evidence, a Florida attorney must usually send a spoliation letter within the first forty-eight hours after the crash.
Vicarious Liability in Florida
Even if the tortfeasor was an independent contractor or owner-operator, employer liability probably still applies. The respondeat superior (let the master answer) rule has two basic prongs:
- Employee: Any individual whom the employer controls is an employee. Such control could be the pay scale, route to drive, hours to work, or almost any other area of the commercial relationship.
- Scope of Employment: Even something like driving an empty truck back to a warehouse is within the scope of employment. The employer benefits from such activity, and that is the only requirement.
In Florida, if there are multiple responsible parties, the judge usually apportions damages among them based on their relative percentages of fault.
Contact Experienced Attorneys
Large truck collisions often cause extremely serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).