Potential Defendants In Florida Trucking Accidents
Being involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler or other type of big rig can lead to life-changing injuries, and if you have been harmed in this type of accident, it is understandable that filing suit might be the last thing on your radar. Some do choose to file suit, and it can be cathartic (as well as helpful in terms of stabilizing life while you focus on healing). If you do choose to seek compensation for your injuries, though, it is crucial that you have a good idea of just who can be held liable for what you have been through.
Can I Sue?
The first thing to keep in mind after a trucking accident is that Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. This means that in most cases, an injured plaintiff cannot file suit, instead filing a claim with their own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. All Florida drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in PIP coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage, though there is a significant minority that remains uninsured or underinsured. If their own insurance coverage runs out, they may be able to file with the other driver’s insurer.
That said, Florida does allow some auto accident lawsuits to go forward. If you have sustained permanent injury, “significant” scarring or disfigurement, or the “significant and permanent loss” of a limb or “important bodily function,” the exemption on tort lawsuits is lifted. This means that if you have sustained any of these injuries as a direct result of your trucking accident, you can file suit in court as you could in other states that do not have no-fault laws.
Multiple Defendants Possible
Once you have determined that you are able to file suit, you need to determine who to file suit against. While many would simply sue the driver of the 18-wheeler, this is not often a good idea, simply because most truck drivers are judgment proof (meaning that if you prevail in court, a truck driver cannot generally afford to pay any judgment levied against them). Depending on the specifics of your situation, it may be possible to have other defendants included in your suit – most commonly, the driver’s employer, under a theory called vicarious liability.
In addition to the trucking company, it is sometimes possible to include those responsible for truck maintenance and upkeep, especially if the cause of the crash can be attributed to a defective part or other mechanical failure. Keep in mind, however, that if you have multiple defendants in your case, you can only collect the amount of their percentage of fault if you prevail – for example, if a defendant is ruled to have been 40 percent liable for your injuries, you can only collect 40 percent of your damages from them. In some other states plaintiffs can collect the entire amount from any one defendant, but Florida banned this practice in 2006.
Contact A Tampa Truck Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident with a large truck, it can feel hopeless to try and seek compensation for what you have been through. However, with the help of a Tampa truck accident attorney, you may be able to get closure on a terrifying time in your life. Call a compassionate and dedicated attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group today – we are ready and willing to help you with your case.