Understanding the Role of Negligence in Truck Accidents in Florida
Being hit by a semi-truck can leave a victim seriously injured and unsure as to what they should do next. Understanding how the law applies to your situation can quickly become complicated. This is, in part, due to the fact that the negligence of numerous parties will play a role in determining the amount of compensation which you will receive. Parties whose conduct will be considered include the driver of the truck, their employer and other third-parties, as well as yourself. If you have been injured then do not try to navigate the system alone. Instead, contact us today to speak with a Florida truck accident attorney.
The Driver of a Semi-Truck Can be Found Liable if Their Negligence Causes an Accident
All drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable caution when operating a vehicle. This includes those who are employed to drive semi-trucks and other big rigs. This duty includes, among other things, a requirement to obey speed limits, to signal before changing lanes, etc. In the case of a truck driver, it can also include making sure that the semi is not overloaded, that all safety equipment is properly functioning, and more. If a truck driver violates these duties, and another person is injured as a result, then the driver may be liable for the victim’s damages.
An injured victim’s compensation can include payment for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, as well as for pain and suffering. Punitive damages will typically not be awarded on the basis of negligence, as such damages are reserved for cases where a defendant acts intentionally or with reckless disregard for the safety of others. Also, as explained below, it is important to note that a truck driver may be relieved from liability for any portion of damages which were caused by the victim’s own negligence.
A Truck Driver’s Employer and Other Third-Parties Can Be Found Liable For Negligence After an Accident
Employers are considered responsible for the negligent actions of their employees. This means, for example, that if a truck driver’s negligence causes an accident then liability automatically flows through to their employer. Additional causes of action, however, for negligence may exist against the employer. One such cause of action can be for “negligent hiring and supervision,” if it is shown that the employer did not adequately screen, train, or monitor the performance of the driver and this failure contributed to the accident.
An example of negligent hiring and supervision can be an employer who fails to conduct drug testing as part of their hiring process. Now suppose that the employer also does not conduct regular drug screening after a driver is hired. If a truck driver causes an accident, and it is shown that he or she was high on narcotics at the time, then the employer will likely be liable for failing to adequately screen and supervise the employee. It should always be remembered, however, that how a Judge or Jury will rule in any given situation will always depend on the specific facts of the case.
Additionally, other third-parties can be found liable for negligence in a truck accident case. Depending on the circumstances, these may include a third-party who hired the trucking company, the individuals or business entities who were responsible for loading the truck’s cargo, and more. Whether any such party can be found liable for the accident is a fact-specific inquiry which should be discussed with an attorney.
When discussing the potential liability of third-parties, it is important to note that Florida has abolished the concept of joint and several liability. Under this legal concept, a party could be made to pay all of a victim’s damages even if the party was only partially responsible for an accident. A third-party, for example, could be required to pay one-hundred percent of the damages, even if they were only ten percent responsible for the wreck, if the victim was unable to collect from the other defendants. Given that Florida has abolished the doctrine of joint and several liability, no third-party will be made to pay more than their share of the damages.
A Truck Accident Victim’s Own Negligence Can Reduce Their Potential Compensation
Florida has adopted the concept of modified comparative fault. Under this concept, a victim’s damages will be reduced by the extent to which they, themselves, were responsible for the accident. If, for example, a victim suffers $100,000 in damages but the jury finds that they were twenty-five percent responsible for the wreck, then the victim would only receive $75,000 ($100,000 – 25 percent). Determination of the fault, if any, that will be attributed to each party will be an issue for the jury in the event that a case goes to trial.
A key concept of the comparative fault rule is that a victim will receive no compensation if they are found to be more than fifty-percent at fault for the accident. So if the jury finds that the truck driver was only forty-percent to blame for the accident, and the injured party was sixty-percent responsible, then the injured party will receive no compensation for their injuries. This concept of modified comparative fault was adopted in Florida in early 2023. Our state had followed the concept of pure comparative fault, which was far more forgiving to Plaintiffs, before this change. Under this concept, a victim would be entitled to damages regardless of how much blame they shared for the accident. For obvious reasons, this system was far more favorable to Plaintiffs.
Contact a Florida Truck Accident Attorney If You Have Been Injured
If you or a family member have been injured in a trucking accident then it is important that you hire an experienced lawyer to assist you. Our firm prides itself on providing a high level of service and we are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals. Contact us online or call us at 800-780-8607 to speak with a Florida truck accident attorney. We look forward to being of assistance.