South Florida highways are very dangerous with the constant construction and the increased vehicular activity burgeoning the roadways. The crossovers of Interstate 95, State Road 84, Interstate 595 and Interstate 75 reveal large numbers of accidents such as the one in mid-March where a semi-truck dropped off a ramp on Interstate 95 at State Road 84.
Highway Fatalities Involving Trucks. The United States Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Administration announced in October 2018 that 2017 highway fatality numbers are down compared to the two years prior, but still estimates over 500,000 truck accidents every year, of which 81% occur in multi-vehicle crash situations. Every 16 minutes a person is injured or killed from a truck accident. Most of the time the truck accident is caused by a passenger vehicle and approximately 16% of the time the fault falls with the driver of the truck.
Classes of Trucks. Trucks fall into two classes, those weighing 10,000 pounds or less, and those weighing more than 10,000 pounds which may move them to the Commercial Motor Vehicle category and change some of the laws and damages to be sought after in personal injury and wrongful death claims. The size of a truck causes more damage than that of a passenger-sized vehicle and is accounted for in formal settlements between parties. Due to the increased load and weight on trucks, the braking ability is also compromised under emergent braking conditions.
Post-Accident Actions. If you are in an accident in Fort Lauderdale FL, you should:
- Check on the condition of the people involved in the accident;
- Call the police or emergency responders if needed;
- Get a written accident report;
- Remain at the accident scene;
- Exchange driver and insurance information;
- Get witness contact information;
- Call your insurance company to set up a claim;
- Seek out medical treatment if necessary;
- Take pictures of the scene, and the vehicle damages;
- Call an accident attorney to determine “fault” and actions toward a proceeding to address damages and injuries sustained.
Things you should know regarding your accident with a large truck, and any potential for a personal injury case. Florida laws have requirements as follows:
Commercial Motor Vehicles; additional liability insurance required (Florida Statute 627.7415) Florida Statute 627.7415 says: “Commercial motor vehicles, as defined in s. 207.002(2) or s. 320.01, operated upon the roads and highways of this state shall be insured with the following minimum levels of combined bodily liability insurance and property damage liability insurance in addition to any other insurance requirements: Fifty Thousand Dollars per occurrence for a commercial motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or more, but less than 35,000 pounds; One Hundred Thousand dollars per occurrence for a commercial motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 35,000 pounds or more, but less than 44,000 pounds; Three Hundred Thousand dollars per occurrence for a commercial motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 44,000 pounds or more. All commercial motor vehicles subject to regulations of the United States Department of Transportation, 49 C.F.R. part 387, subpart A, shall be insured in an amount equivalent to the minimum levels of financial responsibility as set forth in such regulations.”
Mandatory Insurance. State of Florida requirements are that motor vehicles must have current auto insurance coverage with a minimum requirement of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL). If you have been previously convicted of certain offenses or been involved in auto accidents, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles can request that you purchase additional auto insurance including bodily injury liability coverage (BIL).
Bodily Injury Insurance. Certain trucks and commercial vehicles in the State of Florida must carry bodily injury liability coverage, which is additional protection against claims from others for personal injuries an accident with a truck may cause including: 1) medical expenses, 2) lost wages, current and future, 3) pain and suffering, 4) mental anguish, 5) loss of enjoyment of life, and 6) death claims. This extra insurance may be necessary if the truck is of a certain gross weight; has three or more axels, owned or driven by a governmental entity, is used for interstate versus intrastate travel and carries a load that may be considered hazardous.
No-Fault Car Insurance. The Florida No-Fault Law requires drivers to carry the PIP and this no-fault coverage pays the insured’s bills, regardless of fault, up to the limit of the $10,000.
Statute of Limitations. Florida has a two (2) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must file a lawsuit within the two (2) year period following the accident.
Fault. This brings us to “Fault” as it pertains to injuries and damages. When an individual fails to exercise the degree of care expected of someone in a similar situation, and it results in an injury of some sort, it is called “negligence.” The basis for most civil lawsuits and negligence laws are established at the state level.
Pure comparative Negligence (51% Rule). Florida follows the “pure comparative negligence rule” meaning that if you were responsible for any part of the activities that led to your injury, the compensation you will receive will be adjusted in accordance with that percentage of fault assigned to you. Because the court systems in Florida follow this rule in injury cases, you may find that the insurance adjuster will also try to assign a degree of fault to decrease the settlement paid out for the accident if you go to settlement proceedings.
Court awards. Compensation will be based up a review of psychological injuries, bodily injury, liability insurance including uninsured motorist coverage, lost wages, loss of income, medical bills, physical damages to the vehicle, and percentage of fault. Call an accident attorney to determine “fault” and actions toward a proceeding to address damages and injuries sustained.
Call an Attorney.
Hire a legal profession to assist with the burden of collecting and analyzing the data related to the above list is a viable solution to this overwhelming task if you are an accident victim. Accidents may be caused by one driver, several drivers, road conditions, weather, natural or other causes. Determining the percentage of fault is a matter for those who have reviewed police reports, witness reports, car damages, roadway marks and other factors present at the time of the accident.