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The Legal Process for Filing a Truck Accident Claim in Florida

Trucking Accidents

The process of filing a truck accident claim in the state of Florida differs from many other states. This is due to the fact that Florida is one of few “no fault injury” states which requires a victim to first submit a claim against their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Also, our state puts strict time frames in place as to your need to seek medical treatment. Contacting an attorney immediately following a trucking accident is the best way to ensure that you properly navigate the system. We will be using this article to discuss the legal process of filing a truck accident claim in our state.

Florida’s “No Fault” Personal Injury System Requires Truck Accident Victims to First Pursue Their PIP Insurance

Florida requires all vehicles with a current Florida registration to carry personal injury protection insurance of at least $10,000. After a trucking accident, the victim is required to first submit a claim to their own insurance. If your damages are in excess of what is covered by your PIP, then you may bring an action against the parties responsible for the accident. Given that most trucking accident cases result in serious injuries and substantial property damage, claims against the negligent parties will often be necessary. It is important to note that, under Florida law, you must treat for your injuries within two weeks of an accident or you will otherwise be ineligible for payment from your PIP coverage.

A Truck Accident Victim Must Identify All Possible Defendants as an Initial Step Towards Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit

An initial step in a truck accident case is to identify all of the possible defendants. This is due to the fact that any wreck involving a commercial vehicle will differ from a typical car accident case. While typical car accidents only involve one defendant (the negligent driver), trucking accidents can involve several. These defendant(s) can include the driver of the truck, the owner of the truck, management companies hired by the owner to hire and train the driver, as well as other potential entities. There will be overlap in some of the causes of action which can be brought against various defendants, while other causes of action will be unique to one party. An example of this is the fact that the truck driver and the truck owner can both be held liable for the driver’s negligence. The owner, however, can also be held liable for the negligent hiring and supervision of the driver.

Steps which your attorney will take to identify all of the possible defendants can include checking motor vehicle records, verifying business information through the Secretary of State, etc. Also, if a lawsuit is filed then it is possible to name “fictitious parties” so that additional defendants may be added later after the discovery process has begun.

A Victim’s Long-Term Prognosis Must be Reasonably Ascertainable Before a Settlement Demand Can be Made

A victim will begin treating for their injuries shortly after the accident. Once their long-term medical prognosis is more clear then a settlement demand will be sent to the insurance carrier of the defendant(s). This demand is a breakdown of the amount which the victim is requesting as a settlement, as well as their basis for calculating that amount. The demand will be supported by medical bills, wage statements, and other evidence which show how their damages are being tabulated.

It is important that a settlement demand not be sent before a victim’s long-term prognosis and chances for recovery are more clear. Accepting an early settlement can result in the victim receiving far less than what they would otherwise be entitled to. An example of this would be a victim who has suffered serious neck and back injuries. They are aware that they will need multiple surgeries over a one year period but they personally believe that they will fully recover their mobility. The victim submits a settlement demand based on this belief and resolves the matter. Unfortunately, the victim does not make a full recovery and will now have difficulty walking for the rest of their life. The fact that the case has been settled means that the victim received far less compensation than what they should have been entitled to. This could have been avoided by waiting to settle until a time when their chances of recovery were more clearly known.

A Truck Accident Victim’s Attorney Will Negotiate With the Insurance Carriers After a Demand is Sent

A truck accident victim’s attorney will commence negotiations with the insurance company of each defendant after a demand for payment has been sent. Given that the victim in such a case has likely suffered serious injuries, these negotiations can take some time. The insurance carriers will often dispute the amount of the victim’s damages. They will typically base their dispute on differing expert opinions, claims that the victim’s injuries were pre-existing, and claims of comparative fault. If a settlement is reached then the case will be concluded. If a settlement is not reached, within two years of the accident, then it will be necessary to file a lawsuit in order to preserve the statute of limitations. The filing of a lawsuit does not mean that settlement negotiations come to an end; the attorneys for each side will continue negotiations while the case proceeds through the litigation process.

Contact a Florida Truck Accident Attorney Immediately if You Have Been in an Accident

If you or a loved one have been involved in a wreck then it is important that you retain a lawyer as soon as possible. As explained above, the process of bringing a claim can be lengthy and if a lawsuit must be filed then you only have two years to do so. We are experienced in handling such matters and we provide the highest level of service to all of our clients. Contact us online or at 800-780-8607 to speak with a Florida truck accident attorney.

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