Posted on November 16, 2018 in General
Florida sees some of the largest truck activity in the country as a major port for the commercial trucking industry. As a passenger vehicle driver in the Sunshine State, you most likely encounter big rigs every time you hit the road. Unfortunately, proximity to 18-wheelers puts other drivers at risk of serious and fatal truck accidents. In 2016, approximately 104,000 injury crashes and 3,864 fatal crashes in the U.S. involved large trucks. Learn how to deal with a truck company’s insurance policy after a collision with a commercial truck in Florida.
Stay Calm and Build Your Case
Before you call anyone’s insurance company, get the facts of your case straight. Your insurance company and others will want to know specific details of your accident, such as where you were going and who the crash involved. Gather evidence starting the day of the accident, collecting things such as the name of the truck driver and the company, contact information for any eyewitnesses, and your police report number. The more you know about your case, the better for your future claim. Florida is a no-fault insurance state, but building your case against who you believe was at fault can help you down the road. Once you prepare this information, your local truck accident attorney will be able to build a stronger case.
Call Your Insurance Company First
According to Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, you must seek initial financial recovery through your own auto insurance company, regardless of fault. Your insurance company should cover your damages up to the maximum amount as stated in your policy, with or without a deductible. You may need additional support, however, if your damages exceed the maximum on your policy or if your company denies your claim. In these situations, you may need to seek supplementary benefits from the truck company’s insurance policy.
File a Claim With the Truck Company’s Insurer
You may have grounds to file an insurance claim with the truck company’s insurer if your policy doesn’t cover your full damages or if you have permanent injuries according to the definition in Florida Statute Section 627.737(2). If the collision gave you permanent injuries, scarring, or disfigurement, you’ll have the right to file a lawsuit against the trucking company (or another party) right from the beginning. Potential liable parties for your damages could include:
- The truck company. A trucking company will be vicariously liable for the actions and misconduct of its workers. This includes truck drivers, although most truckers are technically independent contractors. The company will also be liable for its own acts of negligence, such as lack of fleet maintenance, if this causes an accident.
- The truck driver. If a truck driver caused your collision but was not acting “within the scope of employment,” you may have a case against the driver as an individual rather than the trucking company. These cases are rare, however, as federal law holds trucking companies responsible for most accidents involving their drivers.
- A part manufacturer. If you suffered your permanent injury because of a defective product, such as a seatbelt that malfunctioned, you may have a claim with the product manufacturer’s insurance company. Other third parties your claim could involve include property owners, truck/cargo owners, and other drivers.
If you must deal with a trucking company’s insurance policy during the claims process, protect your rights by hiring a lawyer. Many insurance companies work hard to deny accident victims’ claims and save money. Saying the wrong thing during your conversation with an insurance agent, accidentally claiming fault, or accepting a low settlement offer could jeopardize your ability to recover damages. Having an attorney take over settlement negotiations on your behalf is the best way to get the benefits your injuries deserve. It can also make processes such as determining liability and filing an injury claim easier on you as a victim.