18-wheelers, also known as semi-trucks or commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), have a significantly larger size and weight than most other vehicles on the road. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) defines a CMV as a bus, hazardous materials vehicle, or a vehicle weighing 10,001 pounds or more. When these vehicles collide with passenger cars, disastrous consequences often result, particularly for occupants of the lighter vehicles.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 4,000 people across the United States lost their lives in accidents involving large trucks in 2018. Passenger vehicle occupants accounted for more than two-thirds of the victims. If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a CMV collision in Florida, a Punta Gorda 18-wheeler accident lawyer can help you seek financial awards for your damages. Call the legal team at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine anytime at 1-800-747-3733 to get started on your free consultation.
18-Wheeler Accidents in Florida
FLHSMV reported over 30,000 accidents involving 18-wheelers in 2017 alone. Nearly 400 occurred in Charlotte County, which experienced an increase in CMV accidents from 2015 to 2016 and again between 2016 and 2017. Within those three years, eight people lost their lives, and more than 200 people suffered injuries in these collisions.
The agency has a division dedicated to the prevention and reduction of CMV accidents. Known as the Office of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, it must fight back against widespread issues to further its goal. As the third most populated state in the country and one with a thriving tourism industry, Florida has drivers from all over the U.S. traveling its roads at all times, all with their own driving styles and level of familiarity with local roads. Congestion can make navigating some of the nation’s deadliest roads, such as U.S. 17, difficult and dangerous.
18-wheelers may help drive the local economy, but they also present a danger to others on busy Florida roads. If the truck driver’s negligence caused your injury or took your loved one’s life, you may qualify for financial recovery.
Reasons for 18-Wheeler Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) attributed fault to the large truck in more than 40% of the two-vehicle accidents they studied, and most of those collisions resulted from driver error.
Making unsafe decisions accounted for more than one-third of the accidents, followed closely by the driver’s failure to recognize hazards. Two other causes, performance errors such as overcompensating or panicking and non-performance such as falling asleep at the wheel, made up a smaller portion of the collisions.
How No-Fault Insurance Affects Your Ability to File a Lawsuit Against the Liable Driver
Florida has a no-fault insurance law, which requires all drivers to carry auto insurance policies that cover their injuries regardless of who causes the accident. However, exceptions to the law apply in certain circumstances, particularly when a person suffers serious injuries or loses a loved one.
Florida Statutes §627.736 requires auto insurance holders to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $5,000 in death benefits in the event of their fatality in an accident. However, victims and their loved ones may qualify to file a claim against the liable driver if damages exceed the total policy amount. Additionally, they can file claims for pain and suffering benefits in instances of:
- Permanent loss of a critical bodily function
- Permanent injury
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
A Punta Gorda 18-wheeler accident lawyer can help you determine if you can file a claim against the liable driver in your case.
Financial Recovery for 18-Wheeler Accident Victims and Their Loved Ones
Determining whether or not you qualify for financial awards requires an investigation of your case to establish liability. An attorney will usually collect evidence from the accident and those involved to help prove that the other driver acted negligently and caused your injuries or the death of your loved one. If your case meets the requirements for pursuing legal action against the at-fault party, you may receive one or more types of awards, including compensation for:
- Emergency medical bills
- Ongoing injury-related medical care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Pain and suffering, such as permanent disfigurement or loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses
It can be difficult to calculate your damages without legal assistance, and accepting a settlement on your own may leave you with less financial recovery than you deserve. A Punta Gorda 18-wheeler accident lawyer can assess the value of your damages and move forward with a request for adequate financial awards on your behalf. Contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine right away at 1-800-747-3733 to talk to our legal team about the details of your case.
Statute of Limitations on 18-Wheeler Accident Claims in Florida
Florida Statutes §95.11 sets the statutes of limitations on personal injury and wrongful death claims, which determine the amount of time a victim has to file a claim against the liable party in their 18-wheeler accident case. Victims generally have up to four years to file claims for their own injuries. The personal representative of the victim’s estate can usually file a wrongful death suit within two years of their loved one’s passing.
If you do not file your claim within the statute of limitations that applies to your case, you forfeit your opportunity to seek financial awards. A lawyer can ensure that you file your claim before the deadline passes.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine Can Help You Pursue Compensation
If you, your spouse, or another family member suffered severe or fatal injuries in an 18-wheeler accident in Punta Gorda, the lawyers at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine might be able to help you pursue financial recovery for your damages. Contact our legal team today at 1-800-747-3733 for your free consultation.
We Can Help.