Due to their sheer size and weight, 18-wheeler trucks have the potential to cause catastrophic damage in traffic collisions. Thus, truck drivers must undergo specialized training to operate these vehicles safely. Additionally, federal and state government bodies regulate 18-wheelers to ensure their safety.
Unfortunately, truck accidents are not uncommon along Interstate 4 or throughout Polk County, even with numerous precautions in place. If you sustained injuries in one, a Lakeland 18-wheeler truck accident lawyer with the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine could help you gather evidence and negotiate a settlement with the responsible parties.
Compensation Options After Your 18-Wheeler Truck Accident
Since Florida is a no-fault US state, you must first rely on your mandatory Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy to cover your injury-related costs in Lakeland, regardless of whether the 18-wheeler truck driver or company is liable. State law requires that you carry at least $10,000 in coverage to avoid paying for your expenses out of pocket.
However, if you only need to cover your auto repairs and other property damage expenses, you could proceed with a property damage claim.
When Can You Qualify for Third-Party Claims in a Lakeland Truck Accident?
According to Florida Statutes § 627.737, you could file a claim against the liable party under conditions such as:
- You lost significant bodily function (e.g., you lost a limb)
- You have a permanent injury (e.g., permanent brain damage)
- You suffered substantial scarring or disfigurement
- A loved one died in the crash
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association requires all companies with motor carriers, including 18-wheeler trucks, to carry liability insurance for all their vehicles. Therefore, you can bring your claim to their insurance provider to cover your expenses. However, if the driver was off duty at the time, the trucking company will likely not cover them. Instead, you would have to file a third-party claim with the driver’s auto insurance company.
A Lakeland 18-wheeler truck accident attorney can help you present your claim to the insurance company and negotiate a better settlement if you disagree with their initial offers.
Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Your lawyer may suggest bringing a trucking accident lawsuit if the liable party has insufficient coverage. For example, the driver might not have bodily injury liability insurance. We may also advise you to file suit if the trucking driver intentionally harmed you—insurance policies usually do not cover willful behavior.
Since your accident happened in Lakeland, you would bring your suit to the Polk County Courthouse. The judge and jury will decide the amount you could recover from the other party. Since it can take several proceedings before the judge and jury reach a verdict, your Lakeland 18-wheeler truck accident lawyer can handle the entire litigation process.
Statute of Limitations for 18-Wheeler Truck Accident Cases
Florida Statutes § 95.11 gives you up to four years to file your truck accident case. The filing deadline remains the same whether you file for injury or property damages. However, if you file for wrongful death damages, you would have only two years to initiate the suit.
In either case, it would be in your best interest to begin building your lawsuit as soon as possible. For example, courts will not consider lawsuits filed after the deadline, preventing you from receiving compensation. However, your truck accident lawyer can help you stay on schedule and monitor the case’s progress.
We can also check for applicable exceptions in Florida Statutes § 95.051 that could stop the statute clock. For example, the timer would stop if the liable truck driver left for another state.
What Damages Can You Recover for Your Truck Accident Injuries?
Your attorney can estimate your damages by helping you compile your expenses and evaluating your injury’s severity. You can typically receive two types of damages in a truck accident settlement: economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages cover your financial costs, such as medical bills and auto repairs. Meanwhile, noneconomic damages pay for your pain and suffering. Their value typically depends on the severity of your condition. So, for example, if you suffered multiple bone fractures, you would likely get a higher payout than if you had a dislocated shoulder.
How Shared Fault Affects Total Damages in Truck Accident Cases
If you can file a third-party claim or lawsuit against the at-fault parties, you would be subject to the comparative fault rules in Florida Statutes § 768.81. This law states that a court will reduce your recoverable damages if you share some of the fault for the accident.
For example, suppose the 18-wheeler driver did not follow Florida’s truck lane restrictions when passing through Lakeland. However, they can show that you were driving faster than the speed limit when the crash happened. Therefore, the court could find you 35 percent liable, while the truck driver is 65 percent. This decision would reduce your award by 35 percent, meaning if you had $100,000 in recoverable damages, you would receive $65,000.
Your 18-wheeler accident attorney will review your claim before filing it. Then, we’ll evaluate if you have enough evidence to back up your claim and decrease the proportion of blame assigned to you.
Speak With Our Truck Accident Team Today
Dealing with the aftermath of a trucking accident is a harrowing experience for anybody. Fortunately, you do not have to deal with it alone. The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine is here to help you take legal action against those at fault for the collision. Our Lakeland 18-wheeler truck accident lawyers can work with you throughout your claim or case. As contingency-fee attorneys, we don’t get paid unless you do.
We handle a wide range of practice areas throughout Florida, including auto accidents, medical malpractice, and premises liability injury cases. We’ve helped hundreds of clients recover the compensation they needed to maintain their financial situation following an accident. Contact us today to get started.
We Can Help.