Proving Bonita Springs truck accident liability (necessary to obtaining compensation for resulting injuries) requires the commitment of a local injury law firm with extensive experience, skill and resources.
Truck crashes cause substantial damage, mostly because of the sheer size and weight disparity between the truck and the vehicle or individual who is struck (and as statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal, it’s almost always the person in the other vehicle – not the truck – who suffers the worst of it).
In addition to filing a claim for damages with one’s own personal injury protection (PIP) insurer, those with disabling or long-term injuries may step outside Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system to seek damages – often from more than one defendant. Defendants can include:
- The negligent driver of the truck.
- The employer of the negligent truck driver (either alleging vicarious liability – which does not require proof of negligence by the company – or direct liability, which does).
- The federally-registered carrier of the truck.
- The registered owner of the truck and/or trailer.
- Third parties, such as city governments that failed to address or adequately mitigate dangerous road or intersection designs or other drivers who were involved.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, our veteran Bonita Springs truck accident attorneys know these cases can quickly become incredibly complex. Crash victims need to search for an injury attorney or wrongful death lawyer with a track record of success specifically in cases involving large trucks.Proof Burdens and Defenses in Bonita Springs Trucking Accident Cases
The fact of a truck crash or even serious injuries don’t on their own establish the right to collect damages from truck drivers or trucking companies. One must prove negligence, which is to show a duty of care, breach of duty and evidence that breach caused plaintiff’s injuries. On the road, the “duty of care” is essentially to use reasonable care that aligns with what a reasonable driver would do in the same or similar circumstances. One thing in truck accident plaintiffs’ favor in these matters is Section 401.6 of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, which underscores the fact that common carriers (including truck drivers) have an even higher duty of care. Rather than determining whether the driver/defendant acted as a reasonable person would, they are required to act “as a very careful person would.”
However, because trucking accidents tend to cause such extensive damage, carriers often fight back aggressively on issues of both liability (it wasn’t their fault or you were at-fault too) and damages (your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim).
One example wherein a trucking company may attempt to deny liability is a challenge to a claim of vicarious liability, founded on the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, Latin for “let the master answer.” This doctrine may hold employers responsible for damages caused by the negligence of employees. Employers, in turn, may argue the driver/employee was not an employee, but rather an independent contractor. However, companies misclassify workers all the time to cut costs on things like workers’ compensation insurance, overtime, and yes, liability for negligence. However, the company’s assertion on this isn’t final, and can be challenged. In determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor, Florida uses a “right of control” test, which includes a checklist of sorts that largely boils down to the company’s control over the worker. For instance, did the employer exert control over details of the work? Was the worker engaged in a distinct occupation or business? Was the work performed part of the company’s regular operations? Did the employer supply tools and instrumentalities? It’s also instructive to turn to F.S. 436.036(18)-(21), which defines employer, employee leasing company, and employment.
Another example of a trucking accident defense is comparative negligence, which is defined in F.S. 768.81. In some other states, if you are found to be even the least bit at fault for a crash, you will not be able to collect any damages. In other states, it’s only if you’re more than half to blame that you lose your right to collect damages, but the amount you can collect will be proportionately reduced by your percentage of fault. Those injured in Florida truck accidents can be up 99 percent at-fault – and still collect on the remaining 1 percent of the damages. Of course, that’s not ideal, which is why our Bonita Springs truck accident attorneys will always look for evidence that successfully refutes any assertion of comparative negligence.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident in Bonita Springs, call our injury law firm office for a free initial consultation.
If you or someone you care about has been hurt, contact the Bonita Springs truck accident lawyers at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured. You pay us no fees unless we win.