Semi-trucks are large commercial vehicles known by several names. Whether you’re calling it a semi-truck, eighteen-wheeler, or tractor-trailer, their composition sets these vehicles apart from other commercial vehicles. A box truck has a cab and a separate cargo area; these components are permanently attached as one unit. A semi-truck has a detachable cab with an engine that can haul a trailer or operate independently. The trailer can’t be operated separately and must be pulled by the semi-truck cab.
Semi-trucks are obviously much larger vehicles. A detached cab can weigh up to 25,000 pounds, while cars, SUVs, and light trucks weigh up to 6,000 pounds. Semi-trucks hauling a full load weigh between 35,000 and 80,000 pounds, more than 13 times the maximum weight of passenger vehicles. The size discrepancy is one of the main reasons accidents involving semi trucks can cause severe injuries.
If you were in a car crash involving a semi-truck, you may wonder if you could receive compensation by filing a lawsuit. Let’s look at some truck accident settlements, what you could receive compensation for, and factors affecting truck accident settlement amounts.
What is the average truck accident settlement in Florida?
Several factors determine the amount paid for Florida truck accident settlements, including the following:
- The severity of injuries: Truck accident victims with more severe injuries receive higher settlements than those with minor injuries. Settlements for more severe injuries include compensation for higher medical bills. Severely injured persons may also miss more time from work or need retraining for a new career, justifying a higher settlement amount.
- Property damage costs: The at-fault party’s insurance company compensates victims for property damage incurred in the accident. Suppose a semi-truck caused an accident totaling two vehicles. One victim owned a Porsche, and the other owned a Camry. The Porsche owner would receive more compensation because it would cost more to replace a Porsche.
- Injury-related expenses: Injury-related expenses are incurred because of a victim’s injuries or loss of personal property. Suppose an injured person was the primary caregiver for minor children and an ill parent. Suppose they also relied on their vehicle to transport their spouse to work. However, they cannot perform these tasks because both their legs were broken in the accident, and the family no longer has a car because their vehicle was destroyed. The accident victim can seek compensation for childcare expenses, in-home nursing costs, and transportation expenses.
- Reason crash occurred: Florida allows injury victims to seek punitive damages when they believe the at-fault party was guilty of gross negligence. Proving fault after an accident involves proving that the at-fault party either did something most people wouldn’t do in the same circumstances or didn’t do something most people would do. Breaking traffic laws is an example of negligence. Gross negligence occurs when the person knowingly engages in actions that jeopardize the safety of others. Suppose a truck driver consumed alcohol, ignored people who said they shouldn’t drive, and initiated a street race with another truck driver. The victim’s lawyer could argue they’re guilty of gross negligence and that the victim should receive punitive damages.
Bernstein Injury Law has secured settlements of up to $3 million for Florida commercial truck accident victims. As of 2022, the highest settlement paid for a semi-truck accident in the United States was $150 million.
Truck accidents in Florida
Florida has a high volume of traffic on the road. Over 8.5 million trucks are registered in Florida, including publicly and privately owned commercial trucks. The state has over 7.7 million automobiles and over half a million registered motorcycles, totaling over 16.7 million vehicles.
Florida is also a significant tourist destination, attracting over 117 million American tourists in 2021. Many domestic tourists drive from their home state, adding to the traffic volume on Florida roads.
Higher traffic volume increases the risk of truck accidents. Florida can also experience hurricanes from June through November, increasing the risk of weather-related traffic accidents.
Florida has a no-fault rule; what does that mean?
Florida’s no-fault law requires all drivers to have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance for bodily injury and property damage. Although truck accident victims may receive some compensation through their PIP insurance, they may have grounds to sue for a truck accident causing catastrophic injuries. You could also pursue a claim if your insurance company doesn’t offer the compensation you deserve.
How much are you entitled to if you’re in a truck accident with a semi?
Personal injury victims can seek economic and non-economic damages from a lawsuit. You can work with your lawyer to calculate the amount you should seek when preparing your truck accident case.
Economic damages are costs with hard numbers. The total economic damages you should seek come from adding up your bills for medical expenses, lost income, and other injury-related costs, such as child care or transportation costs.
Non-economic damages don’t have hard numbers. These damages provide compensation for the way the accident affects your life. Almost 40% of motor vehicle accident victims develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after their accident. Suppose you develop PTSD and are housebound because you’re afraid to ride in a vehicle after your accident. While you can include your therapy bills when calculating your economic damages, the non-economic damages allow you to seek additional compensation for loss of enjoyment of activities and social opportunities. Non-economic damages also include compensation for grief and pain and suffering.
As noted earlier, some accident victims can also seek punitive damages if they can prove the at-fault party was guilty of gross negligence.
Who can be held liable for damages in a commercial truck accident?
Determining responsibility for a commercial truck accident can be complicated. Parties who could be liable for the truck accident include the following:
- Loading company
- Vehicle manufacturer
- Vehicle owner
Suppose a semi-truck driver runs a red light and hits your vehicle. It may seem like the driver is at fault for the accident.
However, an investigation could reveal that the truck’s manufacturers installed defective brakes. In that case, the vehicle manufacturer could be liable for the accident.
It’s also possible the investigation could reveal that the loading company overloaded the vehicle. Although the driver tried to stop, the weight of the load prevented him from stopping in time, causing him to run the red light and resulting in a collision. In that scenario, the loading company could be liable.
In some situations, multiple parties are liable. In these cases, all parties would be liable for a portion of the settlement amount.
Determining liability and damages in a Florida truck accident
Your lawyer will ensure there’s a thorough investigation following your accident. Your legal team will look for evidence of mechanical failure and review documents to ensure they identify every party liable for the accident.
Sources of evidence your legal team will review include the following:
- Company documents
- Dash cam footage
- Driving records
- Eyewitness statements
- Security camera footage
- Social media posts
- Vehicle maintenance logs
Once your legal team reviews the evidence, they’ll ensure you seek damages from the parties liable for your accident. They’ll also handle settlement negotiations and prepare your case for trial if you don’t reach an out-of-court settlement.
Suing for truck accident injuries in Florida
Consulting a truck accident attorney after your accident is crucial because determining who’s liable for truck accidents can be complex. You may not realize you have grounds for a lawsuit or how much your lawsuit could be worth.
Consult an attorney before talking to the at-fault party’s insurance company or accepting a settlement offer. You’ll receive a free consultation and confirm your legal options. It’s crucial you have expert legal insights so you can be confident you’re making informed decisions after your accident.
How a lawyer can help you with your semi truck accident claim
Your truck accident lawyer will help calculate the compensation you should seek and investigate your accident. They’ll gather the evidence to establish who was at fault and whether gross negligence was a factor. Your truck accident attorney is your legal advocate. They’ll use their legal knowledge to fight for you to receive justice after your accident.
Injured in a semi accident? Contact Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys now.
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